Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for attending this celebrative reception tonight. Among our guests, there are esteemed politicians and businessmen, leading figures from the local Chinese community, and leaders in the world's financial market. Your presence has brought glory to Bank of China London Branch. On behalf of Bank of China, I would like to thank you for your long-existing and continuous help and support to Bank of China.
I took the trip to follow Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's state visit to the United Kingdom. Like many of you, within this short 3-day visit, I feel I am in a carnival, shifting from one party to another, to attend the various events hosted by the local political and business communities. For me personally, it has been the first time I experienced such an intensive, broad and in-depth communication with friends and peers in UK. And I believe, we all indulge ourselves very much in this carnival celebrating the China-UK friendship.
Last night, I found it very hard to fall asleep. Maybe it was because of the excitement from the dinner party at the natural history museum, or maybe because the jet lag was still there. Standing in front of the window of my hotel room and looking at the Thames running quietly down there, I was occupied with a question: Why did Bank of China made such a big decision as to set up an overseas office in London, only 17 years after its birth on February 5, 1912? What were exactly motivating our fellow pioneers in those early years, with tremendous courage and braveness? Please keep in mind that the decision was made during a time when China was suffering from economic backwardness, political disturbance and a lack of professional talent. And it was exactly this decision that played the miracle. It started Bank of China on the track of internationalized operations, and it actually genetically constructed the Bank of China into a venture destined to expand globally.
Today, Bank of China is at a time that is completely different from where it started. The bank now has a total asset of 15 trillion RMB yuan, one of the world's largest. It has 620 overseas offices in 40 countries and regions. From time to time, I take the pleasure in thinking about the great success the Bank has achieved for its international operations, thinking about the unique role it has played in promoting China to evolve from an old nation that for long had been shut to the world, into one that has been increasingly integrated into the global community, and thinking about how Bank of China works as a major driver for the internationalization of RMB. Every time I think about this, I can't help thinking of where all these have come from, and paying my respect to our fellow predecessors, for their wisdom and vision.
Over the past 85 years, the fate of Bank of China London Branch has been so closely connected to the China-UK political and economic relations. During the WWII, the London Branch helped UK government and civil efforts in mobilizing funds and material, and acted as a bridge among the allied nations. In 1954, shortly following the ice-breaking visit by the well-known 48 Group Club to China for restoring China-UK trade relations, Bank of China London Branch issued the Letter of Credit that facilitated the first trade transaction after the visit between the two countries. And that deal marked a new page in the history of China-UK economic and financial cooperation. Tonight, Mr. Perry is with us and his father was the founder of the 48 Group Club. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank Mr. Perry and all of our old friends for your contribution.
Today, the total assets of our London branch have reached 60 billion US Dollars, and the Branch has around 2000 corporate clients, 50 thousand retail clients and 300 financial institution clients. Its after-tax profit is expected to exceed 200 million US Dollars. And the Branch has created 400 jobs for the local community. Premier Li's visit marked a new height of China-UK practical cooperation, and this creates a huge space for Bank of China London Branch to work with our clients for shared success and for shared growth in future.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Among the many traditional values for the Chinese nation, there is one that has been particularly deep rooted and it goes like: the favour of a drop of water from others, should be returned with a burst of spring. In the 85-year history of the London Branch, at the when China was poor and weak and when Bank of China was just starting its journey, you were giving us your support, your help, your generosity, your understanding, your encouragement and your strong commitment to standing with Bank of China. We have kept all of them in our mind, and owed our deepest gratitude to you. Today, China is the world's second largest economy and the largest trading nation, and Bank of China has grown into a much more important player in the global economic scenario. It is the time for Bank of China to return to your favour and kindness, for being with us through all the ups and downs.
In the five years to come, China will import 10 trillion US Dollars, and invest 500 billion US Dollars abroad. The Chinese corporations "going global", and the internationalization of RMB provide us with a once-in-a-millennium strategic opportunity. We are willing to working with you, to share future success brought by China's rapid growth, and to help you to gain a greater share in the benefits thereof. Bank of China is willing to be your consultant and guide when you expanding in China, and willing to introduce more Chinese companies to do business in UK and to cooperate with you. Wherever you go across the globe, and whenever you need financial services, please keep in mind that Bank of China is standing with you, providing you with strong support.
Again, thank you for your presence!