Among central banks, the PBOC has a unique history. The bank was established in 1948 shortly before the establishment of the People's Republic of China. After the communist victory, all Chinese banks were nationalized and incorporated into the PBOC. The headquarter was first located in Shijiazhuang, Hebei. It moved to Beijing in 1949. Between 1949 and 1978 the PBOC was the only bank in the People's Republic of China and was responsible for both operations associated with central banks in addition to operations associated with commercial banks.
In the 1980s, as part of Chinese economic reform, the commercial banking functions of the PBOC were split off into four independent but state-owned banks, and the mission of the PBOC was refocused to undertake only the functions of a central bank. This change was reflected in the People's Bank of China Law which was adopted in 1995 whose goal was to complete the transformation of the People's Bank of China into a central bank, consciously modelled after the United States Federal Reserve System. Accordingly, in 1998, the PBOC underwent a major restructuring. All provincial and local branches were abolished, and the PBOC opened nine regional branches, whose boundaries did not correspond to local administrative boundaries. Like its American counterpart, this was intended to reduce the influence that local officials had on the PBOC policy making process.