Everybody’s favorite dissident artist Ai Weiwei says that he has been prevented from opening up an account at HSBC in Hong Kong.
Ai posted the news to his Instagram account on Tuesday along with a photo of the HSBC headquarters in Central, saying: “I’m in Hong Kong, trying to open an account at HSBC. My request was refused due to a “commercial decision” from the headquarter. This has not happened to me in Beijing. Maybe ‘one country, one system’ is better.”
Some of Ai’s Instagram followers have denounced the bank for not opening up an account for one of the world’s most famous critics of the Chinese government, sensing political motives and accusing HSBC of “self-censorship.” “Lol they don’t take free thinkers,” commented one follower. “Sad but true… 1 country 2 systems is ‘fake’ nowadays,” wrote another.
But others have pointed toward a less nefarious reason for Ai’s account being denied. In recent years, Hong Kong banks have been instituting stricter vetting and background checks on customers trying to open new accounts as part of a crackdown on money-laundering and terrorist financing.
“You must have a proof of address of Hong Kong.Hong Kong has a Anti-Money Laundering and a Counter-Terrorist Financing,” wrote one of Ai’s Instagram’s followers.
“Actually I think the main problem is that you don’t have proof of address(of Hong Kong). It’s essential to provide that if you want to open an account in any bank in Hong Kong,” echoed another.
Meanwhile, HBSC has declined to comment on the case, Ai’s followers have suggested that the artist simply try another bank.
“It’s capitalism. Bankers are at liberty to make own decisions. It has nothing to do with the system. Just go to another bank. Good luck,” suggested one web user.
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