Bank of China
Bank of China is one of the big four state-owned commercial banks of the People's Republic of China – the other three are Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Agricultural Bank of China. Bank of China was founded in 1912 to replace the Government Bank of Imperial China, and is the oldest bank in China. From its establishment until 1942, it issued banknotes on behalf of the Government of the Republic of China along with the "Big Four" banks of the period: the Central Bank of China, Farmers Bank of China and Bank of Communications. Although it initially functioned as the Chinese central bank, in 1928 the Central Bank of China replaced it in that role. Subsequently, BOC became a purely commercial bank.
Bank lures staff to handover parade
Jimmy Cheung and Ambrose Leung
In move that has angered pro-democracy groups, Bank of China Hong Kong staff are being offered $100 cash and gifts to take part in a July 1 morning parade being staged to celebrate the anniversary of the handover.
People involved in Saturday's pro-democracy event say the actions are aimed at reducing the impact of their afternoon march.
Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, an organiser of the march for universal suffrage, said it was 'disgusting' that employers might abuse their powers and make people attend the parade.
'If they are that rich, then the bank should give their staff a pay rise. It shows the carnival in the morning encourages autocracy, while the July 1 march in the afternoon calls for freedom,' Mr Lee said.
A spokeswoman for the Bank of China yesterday said all staff planning to join the parade had done so on a voluntary basis.
She said the division in charge of staff recreational activities had regularly encouraged workers to join meaningful events, such as tree-planting days or a walkathon.
'We think the July 1 parade is a meaningful event that our staff would consider participating in,' the spokeswoman said. 'When our staff joined the tree-planting day in March, they were also provided with lunch.'
A memo issued to bank staff earlier this month also promised that each participant would receive a T-shirt, a cap and drinks.
'We are just giving a subsidy. It's not a case of luring them with money,' the spokeswoman said.
Legislator Chan Yuen-han, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said there was nothing wrong in the bank paying staff for attending the parade.
'I don't think there are any problems. Many organisations do it all the time, and all they want is to encourage more people to turn out,' Ms Chan said.