(Photo: Screenshot of CCB's apology posted in its Sina Weibo account)
Beijing (People's Daily) - China Construction Bank (CCB) on Friday apologized after one of its branches in Beijing came under fire for allegedly promoting sales of ivory products weeks before China’s total ban comes into effect on January 1.
"We express our deepest regret for the harm brought to the public and society," the bank wrote in a statement released on its verified Sina Weibo account on Friday morning.
Chinese Internet users were furious at the bank after a poster was found outside a bank in Beijing, calling on customers to join the "20-day countdown to the total ivory sales ban" with a 45-percent-off "exclusive discount" and interest-free installments.
The post immediately drew attention from Internet users who expressed their disappointment and opposition on Weibo or under the Beijing branch’s Weibo account.
"Will you pull out your teeth and let someone sell them?" asked one.
According to the bank, the poster used the bank logo without authorization and was erected under the branch’s loose management. The poster has been removed, while related institutes will be held responsible and severely punished.
CCB said that it firmly opposes any ivory product trade and does not participate in any related activities. Nor does it allow any advertising in the name of CCB.
China announced that all commercial ivory processing and trading is banned by the end of 2017, a decision hailed worldwide.
Chinese Net users have responded actively to the nation's latest policy for animal welfare.
According to a latest World Wildlife Fund-TRAFFIC survey, nearly 90 percent of more than 2,000 surveyed people said they supported the ban and more than half of previous ivory buyers have stopped purchasing.
A major consumer of ivory products, China is expected to help stop poaching of the declining African elephant population.
Before the ban takes effect on January 1, ivory products can only be sold at licensed designated institutes, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), citing the State Forestry Administration. CCB is not on the list, IFAW claimed.
Some Net users also found a Beijing-based art company is promoting ivory products, allegedly manufactured under government approval. The company had not responded as of press time.