UK foreign secretary urges HSBC not to sacrifice Hong Kong for bankers’ bonuses

Latest criticism of Europe’s largest bank for supporting controversial national security law

Britain’s foreign secretary Dominic Raab has castigated a number of leading British banks for supporting China’s controversial new national security law for Hong Kong.

Although Standard Chartered also signalled its support for the strict measures some weeks ago, HSBC has come under the most severe criticism from political leaders in the West.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Raab said: “I’ve been very clear in relation to HSBC and… all of the banks: the rights and freedoms and our responsibilities in this country to the people of Hong Kong should not be sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses.”

Once a key figure of the British colonial establishment in east Asia, HSBC moved its headquarters to London following the handover to China but maintained a significant interest in the region.

Mr Raab’s comments echo those made by his American counterpart Mike Pompeo, who last month accused HSBC of being “browbeaten” by Beijing, which he argued “continues to use the bank’s business in China as political leverage against London”.

Widespread demonstrations in Hong Kong against the ruling Communist Party of China dominated news headlines for much of 2019, plunging the territory into recession, delaying a number of IPOs and triggering a degree of capital flight.

The measures signed into law by President Xi Jinping on June 30 will undermine subversion, terrorism and foreign meddling, according to Beijing. Although Western nations have voiced their concern that the civil liberties guaranteed by the one party, two systems agreement in 1997 are now under threat.

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In retaliation to the new laws, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to open a pathway to citizenship for those nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens who also hold a British National passport.

HSBC is yet to respond to Mr Raab’s comments. Last month the bank stated: “We respect and support laws and regulations that will enable Hong Kong to recover and rebuild the economy and, at the same time, maintain the principle of ‘one country two systems’.”

In mid-afternoon Thursday trading, the bank traded up 4.43 per cent at 388.80 pence.

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