BEIJING is accelerating the transformation of its five socialist banks into commercial banking institutions and sending fact-finding teams to Hong Kong to learn from territory bankers. The transformation is a key element of Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji's economic reform package, which includes a complete overhaul of the country's taxation and enterprise systems. Policy-makers in Beijing are debating the Banking Law, which will provide the legal framework required for the transformation. The banking reform, if realised, will turn China's five leading socialist banks - the People's Bank of China, Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank, Construction Bank and Bank of Agriculture - into institutions comparable with foreign counterparts. The PBOC will become a central bank to monitor the country's interest rates and money supply. Under the present system, mainland banks bear ''dual identities'', undertaking normal banking businesses and being responsible for implementation of Government investment and financial policies. The conflicting functions limit their competitiveness, especially in the international financial markets. According to Ng Lin-fung, deputy general manager of Nanyang Commercial Bank, who is in Fuzhou attending the Fujian People's Political Consultative Conference, Beijing has sent fact-finding teams to Hong Kong to discuss issues with territory bankers. Mr Ng, who met one team in Hong Kong, said the transformation would be a long-term process. ''I told them it is going to be a difficult task. It may take five to 10 years,'' he said. He said Chinese banks must operate under the same directorship system as foreign banks for the transformation to be successful. Credit ratings also could be a problem, with credit rating companies needing to re-evaluate ratings of mainland banks after the transformation.