Hong Kong anti-government protesters plan to empty their bank accounts in the latest escalation of the ongoing civil unrest on the island. The action was officially scheduled for today but there is evidence suggesting that protesters have been making large withdrawals over the past few days.
The bank run was proposed by a Hong Kong student and has been dubbed ‘Cashout HKD to USD.’ The goal is to put sufficient pressure on the banks to force more leniency from both Beijing and the Hong Kong governments towards the pro-democracy protesters’ demands.
Hong Kong Protests Intensify
According to a report cited in Business Insider, the student claims that more than HK$70 million (over $8.8 million) has been withdrawn prior to the official day of the bank run. However, this claim cannot be verified.
Today, Hong Kong’s version of Reddit, LIHKG, featured numerous photographs of large piles of hard cash withdrawn from banks, as well as ATMs claiming to have run out of money. A Telegram channel dedicated to the bank run also boasts around 1,500 members.
Business Insider speculates that the action began early to maximize its effectiveness. Daily withdrawal limits mean that each citizen can only take withdraw a maximum of $20,000 or every 24 hours. However, there is a strong case to be made that people are withdrawing what they can prior to the bank run out of fear that the action itself may force banks to adopt more stringent limits on withdrawals or stop them altogether.