Frozen accounts: Beijing urges Spain to protect legitimate rights of Chinese nationals|
China on Monday urged Spain to take “effective measures” to ensure that the “legitimate rights” of Chinese citizens are not violated after reports emerged that Spanish banks have frozen accounts of thousands of Chinese citizens without prior notice.
“The Embassy of China in Spain has received complaints from Chinese citizens including students there that their bank accounts have been arbitrarily frozen. The Chinese Embassy has expressed its concern to the Spanish side and offered assistance to the relevant Chinese citizens within its scope of duties,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.
“A senior official from the Department of Consular Affairs of China's Foreign Ministry has also met with the Minister of the Spanish Embassy in Beijing to make representations over this matter,” he added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang addresses a press conference in Beijing, February 18, 2019. /Photo via China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Geng reiterated that “the Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens overseas and hopes that the Spanish side will take effective measures to earnestly guarantee the legitimate rights of Chinese citizens in Spain.”
The matter came to the fore last Friday after hundreds of furious Chinese citizens took to the streets in Madrid to protest against their accounts being frozen, accusing Spanish banks such as BBVA of indulging in “racism.”
The protesters complained that the bank, after arbitrarily blocking their accounts, told them that the action was taken under Spain's money laundering regulations. The Chinese nationals vehemently deny laundering money.
Read more: Chinese protesters allege racism after Spanish bank freezes accounts
Following the rare protest by Chinese nationals in Madrid, Chen Xiongfeng, deputy director-general of China's Department of Consular Affairs, on Friday summoned the Spanish envoy over the matter, as reported by CGTN.
Chen said he expected the Spanish embassy in Beijing to deliver the message to its government in Madrid that local authorities should not take discriminatory action against Chinese citizens and to maintain the friendship and business exchanges between the two countries.
The Spanish diplomat stated that Madrid is highly concerned about the matter while reiterating that Spain does not support law or policies that discriminate against Chinese citizens. He informed that Spain's foreign ministry has sought an explanation from the Central Bank of Spain and other related financial institutions over the concern raised by China.
(Cover: Chinese protesters carry flags and placards against Spanish bank BBVA in Madrid, Spain, February 15, 2019. /Reuters Photo)