A chorus of voices in China has been demanding the boycott of a French bank after one of its staff allegedly called the pro-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong “monkeys” in a Facebook post that has since been deleted, reports the Daily Mail.
The derisive comment was said to have been made after hundreds of Beijing supporters carrying Chinese national flags and chanting patriotic slogans stormed a mall in Hong Kong on 14 September in a counter rally amid raging anti-government unrest.
While Facebook is banned in China by Beijing's “Great Fire Wall”, a screenshot of the post was reportedly shared on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Chinese web users also blasted the financial institution, BNP Paribas, for listing Hong Kong and Taiwan as separate nations on its website, demanding that it correct the mistake.
BNP Paribas, which employs more than 18,000 workers in the Asia Pacific region, has apologised for the employee's remarks and posted a statement on its Chinese and global websites that reads:
“We deeply apologise for the offence caused by a social media post that was expressed on one of our employees' personal accounts. The views expressed in the post do not reflect the views of BNP Paribas.”
The employee in question has been identified as “Jason Y. Ng” on Facebook, but BNP Paribas has not confirmed this.
The BNP Paribas apology failed to placate Chinese web users, who branded it as “insincere”, with netizens demanding the bank dismiss the employee, clarify its stance on the Hong Kong matters and apologise properly.
One Weibo user urged:
“Fire him directly!”
Another wrote that if the bank continues to employ him,
"it means BNP Paribas supports Hong Kong independence. On what basis can you earn money in mainland China? Get out of China”.
Others have been insistently demanding that Beijing block the company from operating in China.
Another user commented:
“It's time for our country to take action [to deal with] such foreign trash.”
Other comments typically offered their take on capitalism in general, with a user writing:
“The tricks Western capitalist [countries] play are quite interesting. [I] feel they still live inside the wall. In this era, [they] are still day-dreaming and feeling happy about it.”
BNP Paribas has nearly 500 employees in five branches in mainland China and is the latest international company to be swept up by the vortex of events in Hong Kong, as anti-government protests have been raging unabated for over 100 days.
The mass protests in Hong Kong began in early June as a reaction to proposed amendments to the city's extradition laws. While the amendment bill was withdrawn after weeks of rallies, protesters continue to demand resignation of the the region's chief executive, Carrie Lam, the retraction of the government’s classification of the violent clashes as riots, an independent inquiry into police violence and the release of everyone arrested in the conflict.