There was a time not so very long ago when Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) owned just under 20% of the world's second biggest bank by assets, the $2.8 trillion China Construction Bank.

The moment was brief, spanning from Bank of America's initial investment in 2005 until it finished unloading the position in 2013. But to say the deal was lucrative wouldn't do the facts justice. Over the course of nine years, Bank of America's $6.3 billion investment generated pre-tax gains of $16 billion.

It's a shame that Bank of America no longer holds this position. Despite the country's current problems, China is the economic frontier of the present and the future. And aside from the behemoth Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, there is no better financial company through which to gain exposure to the Asian country's emergence than China Construction Bank.

But even if the post-financial-crisis regulations had allowed Bank of America to hold onto its stake, which is a dubious assumption at best, the capital it raised from the sale helped the North Carolina-based lender emerge from the financial crisis as an independent, though hobbled, company.

With this in mind, the slideshow below traces the history of Bank of America's investment in China Construction Bank, from its inception in 2005 to its conclusion in 2013.

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