Raab re­news at­tack on HSBC as Hong Kong se­cu­rity law kicks in

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Lucy Bur­ton By

DOMINIC RAAB, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, has launched a fresh broad­side against HSBC over its sup­port for a bru­tal crack­down in Hong Kong, after the first ar­rests were made un­der Bei­jing’s con­tro­ver­sial new se­cu­rity law.

Mr Raab at­tacked the lender for throw­ing its weight be­hind the new rule, which crim­i­nalises anti-gov­ern- ment move­ments in the for­mer Bri­tish colony and in­tro­duces life sen­tences or long term jail terms for vaguely de­fined na­tional se­cu­rity crimes.

HSBC gave its back­ing to the rule when it was first pro­posed by China’s Com­mu­nist regime last month – spark­ing con­dem­na­tion from Western lead­ers and ac­tivists around the world.

Speak­ing in Par­lia­ment as the Gov­ern­ment of­fered cit­i­zen­ship to up to 3m Hong Kong res­i­dents, Mr Raab said: “I’ve been very clear in re­la­tion with HSBC and ... all of the banks.

“The rights and the free­doms and our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in this coun­try to the peo­ple of Hong Kong should not be sac­ri­ficed on the al­tar of bankers’ bonuses.”

Isaac Cheng, the for­mer vice-chair­man of Hong Kong’s pro-democ­racy group De­mo­sisto, said blame for the new rules must be laid partly at the door of HSBC and fel­low Bri­tish bank Stan­dard Char­tered, which also has a ma­jor pres­ence in China and of­fered its sup­port.

He said: “Clearly HSBC and Stan­dard Char­tered should share part of their re­spon­si­bil­ity for sup­port­ing the law.

“Hong Kong peo­ple will be sub­ject to se­cret tri­als, re­stricted ac­cess to bail or even ex­tra­di­tion to China’s courts.”

Close to 200 Hong Kong pro­test­ers were ar­rested dur­ing clashes with the po­lice yes­ter­day. The first ar­rest for an al­leged na­tional se­cu­rity crime was car­ried out shortly be­fore 2pm, when the po­lice de­tained a man with a Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence flag.

One HSBC in­vestor said that the bank has “hu­man rights obli­ga­tions” and must keep a close eye on how the law is be­ing used, or else share­hold­ers “will vote ac­cord­ingly”.

Aviva, HSBC’s 12th largest share­holder and one of the UK’s big­gest in­vestors, broke the City’s si­lence last month by pub­licly crit­i­cis­ing HSBC and Stan­dard Char­tered’s sup­port of the law.

The Hong Kong & Shang­hai Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 and makes al­most all of its money in Asia. But HSBC share­hold­ers are largely US and UK-based, it is the sixth-big­gest com­pany in the FTSE 100 and it has been head­quar­tered in Bri­tain since 1993 after buy­ing Mid­land Bank.

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