What Is the People's Bank of China (PBOC)?

The People's Bank of China is the central bank of the People's Republic of China and is located in Beijing. Since July 2017, the PBOC has had the largest financial asset holdings of any central bank in the world.

Understanding the People's Bank of China (PBOC)

The PBOC was established on Dec. 1, 1948, and is responsible for monetary policy and fiscal regulation in Mainland China. The PBOC is currently the largest central bank with close to $3.7 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in 2017. The Huabei Bank, the Beihai Bank, and the Xibei Farmer Bank were consolidated to form the PBOC after the Chinese Communist Party's victory and the creation of the People's Republic of China.

In September 1982, the State Council decided that the PBOC should become the central bank. The bank's first headquarters were in Shijiazhuang, Hebei and were later moved to Beijing in 1949. Between 1950 and 1978, the PBOC was the only bank in the nation and oversaw both central banking and commercial banking operations. All other banks within Mainland China, such as the Bank of China, were either divisions of the PBOC or did not accept deposits.

Responsibilities of the People's Bank of China

The PBOC is responsible for drafting laws and regulations for its financial functions, including implementing monetary policy to maintain financial stability and economic growth in China. Additional responsibilities involve setting interest rates, regulating financial markets, issuing the Renminbi currency for circulation, regulating interbank lending and the interbank bond market, managing foreign exchange and recording foreign currency transactions.

Public companies in China are funded by the PBOC. Funding for companies was previously provided through grant transfers by the state. The State Owned Bank, under the direct supervision of the PBOC, manages grant transfer operations.

Management and Structure of the People's Bank of China

The bank is run by a board of directors. In 2017, there were nine deputy governors with Dr. Zhou Xiaochuna acting as the governor of the PBOC. The PBOC has nine regional branches located in Tianjin, Shenyang, Shanghai, Nanjing, Jinan, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Xi'an, two operations offices in Beijing and Chongqing, 303 municipal sub-branches and 1,809 county-level sub-branches.

People's Bank of China and Interest Rates

The interest rate set by the bank was historically always divisible by nine instead of by 25 as is the case for the rest of the world. However, the central bank began to increase rates by 0.25% on Oct. 19, 2010, and the interest rate is now divisible by 25. The PBOC’s foreign exchange reserves have grown from $416 billion in 2004 to close to $3.7 trillion in 2015, which is the result of a consistently positive balance of payments (BOP) over the years.