SOME of the leading Canadian banks are expanding aggressively in the region, establishing sizeable operations in Hongkong and the mainland. One of the more prominent Canadian banks in Hongkong is the Royal Bank of Canada. A leading financial services institution in North America and Canada in particular, the Royal Bank recently consolidated its position in the region when it established a branch on the mainland. ''On March 15, we established a full branch in Shanghai, becoming the first and only Canadian bank with a branch in China,'' said Sandy Dean, the deputy general manager of the bank in Hongkong. ''This is part of the bank's policy of establishing a niche in the fastest growing economies of the Asia-Pacific region,'' Mr Dean said. The bank maintains close contacts with many of China's national import/export corporations as well as other clients globally who trade with the mainland. ''Royal Bank has been active in financing trade flows to Canada as well as to other destinations from China,'' he said. Along with playing an active role in traditional trade transactions, the bank regularly devised new products and adapted existing ones to meet its clients' needs, according to Mr Dean. Over the past 15 years, the bank has arranged and participated in several important financings on the mainland. These include loans for the world's largest open-pit coal mine in Shanxi, a float-glass manufacturing plant in Shekou, a brewery in Zhuhai, as well as hotels in Beijing and Guangzhou. It has also advised Chinese firms on their overseas investments, particularly in Canada. In 1984, it formed a joint-venture with China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC), and later, in 1987, it acted as financial adviser to CITIC for investing in a pulp mill in British Columbia. The associated financial requirements were also managed by the Royal Bank. Another Canadian bank, which is an active player locally, is the Bank of Nova Scotia, better known as the Scotiabank, which opened a representative office in Hongkong in 1973. This was upgraded to branch status in 1978. ''Scotiabank's Hongkong branch is involved in the full range of banking activities in the local market,'' said Robin Hibberd, the vice-president and manager of the bank in the territory. ''We cover the full spectrum of banking from retail, private banking, treasury and foreign exchange operations, trade finance, commercial and corporate lending, to providing multicurrency mortgage for residential properties purchased in Canada,'' he said. The bank has also spread its operations across the border into China. In 1982, it opened a representative office in Beijing. ''Currently, the bank is in the process of expanding its presence in China. Final preparations are now in place to open a representative office in Guangzhou,'' Mr Hibbered said. The Scotiabank's representative in Guangzhou is Kenneth Lam, a long-time employee of its branch in the territory. He is already in Guangzhou, finalising the details of the new office, which will be opened some time this summer, according to Mr Hibberd. ''The operations of the Guangzhou office will be co-ordinated with the Hongkong branch in recognition of the significant links between the bank's local customers and southern China,'' he said. ''It will also be involved in building up business between Scotiabank and other mainland banks. ''We are enthusiastic about the opportunities that the economic emergence of China presents,'' Mr Hibberd said.