China Merchants Bank has won approval from US regulators to open a branch in New York, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bank, which is currently China's sixth-largest by assets, will join Bank of China and Bank of Communications as the only Chinese banks operating in the US. Merchants Bank is the first Chinese bank to be approved since the US tightened banking regulations in 1991. American officials hope that the approval will give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson more clout when he returns to China in December for the next round of the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. Other Chinese banks hope that this approval will pave the way for other banks to open branches in the US. An application by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to expand to the US is still pending approval.