The Bank of China has closed the bank account of the localist Youngspiration party and will return savings in the account to it, the party said. The personal account of the party’s ousted lawmaker Baggio Leung was also frozen by HSBC at the same time, according to a statement released by Youngspiration.

Leung and another ousted lawmaker Yau Wai-ching were using the party’s account to receive donations for a legal battle with the government over the disqualifications for their oaths of office. They have applied to the Court of Final Appeal for permission for a final battle.

The party said the Bank of China’s act “seriously hindered Youngspiration’s daily operations and made fundraising for the legal battle on the oaths even more difficult.”

Youngspiration’s Yau Wai-ching (left) and Baggio Leung Chung-hang (right). Photo: HKFP.

According to Youngspiration, the Bank of China was the only bank that accepted applications from the party to open an account in its name since its formation in early 2015.

It said a staff member told them through the phone: “We regularly review our relationships with clients – after evaluation and considering all aspects, we notify you that the bank cannot continue to provide service.”

The staff member told the party that a reason could not be provided.

A Bank of China branch. Photo: Link REIT.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department previously banned the party’s stall at the Lunar New Year fair, saying that it may be selling merchandise related to pro-independence messages.

The party said the ban and the bank account closure created more difficulties in the legal fight.

“Despite that, we will stick to our promise: for Hong Kong, for the rule of law, for justice, we will continue fighting this battle no matter the cost,” it said.

Last year, HSBC refused to open a joint account for Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow of the newly-formed Demosisto party.

The party then publicised an account belonging to Chow at Hang Seng Bank for its fundraising purposes. The bank cancelled the account’s deposit functions, telling Chow that a personal account can only be used for personal matters.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.