Russo-Chinese Bank

The Russo-Chinese Bank (Russian: Русско-Китайский банк, French: Banque russo-chinoise, Traditional Chinese: 華俄銀行) was a foreign bank, founded in 1895, that represented joint French and Russian interests in China during the late Qing Dynasty. It merged in 1910 with the French-sponsored Banque du Nord, a large domestic bank in Russia, to form the Russo-Asiatic Bank.

Advert for the Russo-Chinese Bank, 1907


Under the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) that ended the First Sino-Japanese War, the Qing empire had to pay a significant indemnity to Japan. French and Russian were involved in the syndication of Chinese government borrowing to raise the indemnity funds, and soon felt the need for a dedicated institution to handle the corresponding loans.[1][2]

The decision to create the Russo-Chinese Bank was made on 5 December 1895 at the Russian Embassy in Paris,[1] a joint initiative of Russian finance minister Sergei Witte and French diplomat Auguste Gérard [fr].[3] The bank brought together Russian shareholders (for 37.5 percent of the initial capital) and French interests pooled by the Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas (for 62.5 percent), with participation also from Crédit Lyonnais, the Comptoir national d'escompte de Paris, and Banque Hottinguer.[4][5][6] Whereas its board of directors met in Paris, Saint Petersburg was its legal place of incorporation and the seat of its executive management.[7] It opened for business on 21 January 1896 in Saint Petersburg.[2]

The bank immediately opened a branch in Shanghai in February 1896.[8] On 28 August 1896 it partnered with the Chinese imperial government for the construction of the Chinese Eastern Railway, acting as a conduit for project financing from the Russian government, and also receiving capital financing from the Chinese authorities - the only time ever that the Qing empire was involved in the capital of a foreign enterprise.[2] In Chinese, the bank was then referred to as "Sino-Russian Righteousness Victory Bank" (Traditional Chinese: 華俄道勝銀行).[9][8] By 1902, it had become the second-largest bank in China.[8] In 1898, the State Bank of Russia took a significant share of the bank's newly issued capital.[2] The Russian interests subsequently prevailed in the bank's management, and its French stakeholders were marginalized. The Russo-Chinese Bank's activity had initially been focused north of the Yangtze in order not to compete further south with the French-sponsored Banque de l'Indochine, but the bank breached that arrangement by opening a Hong Kong office in 1904.[6]

In February 1904, the bank opened another branch in San Francisco, its only one in the United States (which was damaged by the April 1906 earthquake).[10] Following the Russo-Japanese War's conclusion in 1905, the bank pared down much of its business in China and was principally active in Northern Manchuria, as well as Central Asia and the Russian Far East.[3] It had to close its branch on the main square of Dalian following the Japanese takeover of the Kwantung Leased Territory.[11] It also suffered from the cotton crises that affected Russian Turkestan from 1904.[2]

By 1907 the bank had 47 branch offices in addition to the Saint Petersburg head office:

In 1910, the merger with Banque du Nord gave the bank a new impetus, with a major network of branches in Russia, and re-established the influence of French stakeholders in the governance of the merged entity.[6]


The headquarters building of the bank in Saint Petersburg, on Ekaterinskaya Street [ru] 8,[12] was demolished during the Soviet era.


Like other foreign banks in China at the time, the Russo-Chinese Bank issued paper currency in the concessions where it had established branch offices.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Davis, Clarence B.; Wilburn, Kenneth E., Jr; Robinson, Ronald E. (1991). "Russia, the Soviet Union, and the Chinese Eastern Railway". Railway Imperialism. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0313259661.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kazuhiko Yago (January 2013). "The Anatomy and Pathology of Empire: Three Balance Sheets of Russian and Soviet Banks" (PDF). In Kimitaka Matsuzato (ed.). Comparative Imperiology. pp. 61–86.
  3. ^ a b Charles Lagrange (5 August 2014). "Gazette de Changhai - 26 : Les banques".
  4. ^ Hubert Bonin (2000). Le monde des banquiers français au XXe siècle. Paris: Editions Complexe. ISBN 9782870277782.
  5. ^ Issue in focus: Russian Bankers to Return to U.S. West Coast Archived 2007-08-16 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Hubert Bonin (1994). "L'activité des banques françaises dans l'Asie du Pacifique des années 1860 aux années 1940". Revue Française d'Histoire d'Outre-Mer: 401–425.
  7. ^ Michael Jabara Carley (1990), "From Revolution to Dissolution : The Quai d'Orsay, the Banque Russo-Asiatique, and the Chinese Eastern Railway, 1917-1926" (PDF), The International History Review, Taylor & Francis, 12
  8. ^ a b c Ji, Zhaojin (2003). A History of Modern Shanghai Banking: The rise and decline of China's finance capitalism. Russo-Chinese Bank and Russo-Asiatic Bank. Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe. p. 70-72. ISBN 0-7656-1002-7.
  9. ^ China's Loss of Sovereignty in Manchuria 1895 - 1914
  10. ^ Scanland, J.M. (July 1905). The Russo-Chinese Bank (San Francisco). Detroit, Michigan: The Business Man's Magazine and Book-Keeper. p. 236-245.
  11. ^ Mike Klein (16 October 2019). "A Rare Russian Plan of Dalian". Library of Congress.
  12. ^ a b Весь Петербург на 1907 год. ("All Petersburg in 1907: Address and Reference Book of St. Petersburg"), A.S. Suvorin, 1908
  13. ^ "Русско-китайский банк в Самарканде". STV. 29 June 2020.