HK protesters march, withdraw money from Bank of China

Anti-extradition protesters begin their march in the North District Sports Ground. Photo: RTHK. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

HONG KONG, Jul 13, 2019, Asia Times. Hong Kong protesters on Saturday continued through different means to oppose the controversial extradition legislation, despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s Tuesday description of the bill as “dead,” reported the Asia Times.

Queues were seen at certain branches of the Bank of China (Hong Kong) in the morning after netizens called for a money-withdrawal campaign to stress-test the cash storage situation of the Chinese bank.

Since last week, netizens have been promoting the campaign as a way to urge the Hong Kong government to “withdraw,” not only suspend, the extradition bill. They also called for the retraction of “riot” characterization of the June 12 protest, the release of the arrested anti-extradition protesters, the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the police brutality and Lam’s resignation.

Over the past week, an online poster had been circulated, saying that Hong Kong citizens should avoid depositing money in the Bank of China as the bank is facing the risks of cash shortage due to non-performing loan problems in China. The poster said the warning was issued by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

On Thursday, HKMA said in a statement that such online claims are “untrue and totally unfounded.” It said the warning was falsely attributed to the HKMA. It urged the public to be discerning when dealing with online information.

On Friday, netizens said on discussion groups that the Bank of China had taken the abnormal precaution of ordering all staff to work on Saturday.

An unnamed Bank of China staff member told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that the bank’s staffers were verbally told by their supervisors to work on Saturday. Citing bank staff members, Ming Pao reported that the Bank of China increased manpower on Saturday for the launch of “silver bonds,” which target elderly customers. The report said some staff were relocated to the branches in Sheung Shui in New Territories, where protests would be staged in the afternoon.

Bank of China’s spokespersons did not respond to media enquiries.

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