French banks in Hong Kong (1860s-1950s): Challengers to British banks?
French banking expansion in China and South-East Asia had to respect the powerful influence of British banks there. From the 1860s French merchant and banking interests had been involved in Hong Kong business because of the colonial developments in Indochina and the links between this area and the Hong Kong centre. The growth of commercial links between the colony and China favoured further integration of banking and currency exchanges with Hong Kong, through the Banque de l’Indochine corporation, competing with Hsbc. It was itself committed to finance Asian-French commercial flows (silk, etc.) directly (Lyon, Bordeaux, Paris) or indirectly (London branch) took part to banking links with France. But Hong Kong also became a bridgehead for Banque de l’Indochine into southern China (Canton, etc.) from the1890s up to the 1930s and, in parallel with the Shanghai branch, its branch there asserted itself as a part of French expansion in the Far-East.
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