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