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Author: Tan KW   |   Latest post: Fri, 3 Jul 2020, 11:56 PM

 

Former Hong Kong leader lashes out at HSBC over security law

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HONG KONG (May 29): Hong Kong’s former chief executive Leung Chun-ying has lambasted HSBC Holdings plc over not publicly voicing its support for China’s plan to enact national security legislation in the city.
 
The public should pay close attention to the Asia-focused bank’s stance on the law since it has yet to express its view after more than a week, Leung said in a Facebook post today. An HSBC spokeswoman declined to comment.
 
Leung called on business people from the mainland and Hong Kong, members of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) delegates who hold accounts at HSBC to take immediate action to protect themselves.
 
“Neither China nor Hong Kong owes HSBC,” said Leung, who’s a vice chairman of the CPPCC, China’s top political advisory body. “HSBC’s China business can be replaced by banks from China or other countries overnight.”
 
HSBC now risks being dragged into the turmoil that is roiling its biggest market and where it gets about a third of its global revenue. The London-based bank last year became a flashpoint in the anti-government protests, with its branches vandalised after it closed an account linked to the protests. While HSBC cited inconsistent activity, its motives were questioned at a time when it is pushing into China and repairing its relationship with Beijing after cooperating in the US probe of Huawei Technologies Co.
 
HSBC shares slid 3% to HK$35.90 as of 3.27pm in Hong Kong.
 
Chinese lawmakers yesterday approved a proposal for sweeping new national security legislation in Hong Kong that democracy advocates say will curb essential freedoms in the city. Chinese officials could now take months to sort out the details of laws banning subversion, secession, terrorism, and foreign interference before they are given to Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed administration to promulgate.
 
The UK, the US, Canada, and Australia yesterday issued a joint statement urging China to halt its plans. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned the government will open a path to citizenship for 300,000 Hong Kong residents unless China backs down.
 
HSBC has deep roots in the city where it was founded 155 years ago. The city accounts for its biggest chunk of customers and its name even adorns local bank notes. Earlier this year it angered local retail investors by cancelling its dividend at behest of UK regulators.
 
The lender has taken steps to help struggling customers in Hong Kong, offering at least HK$30 billion in relief and paused planned job cuts.
 
“Over political issues, the self-proclaimed British bank can’t make money from China while following Western countries to do things that damage China’s sovereignty, dignity, and people’s feelings,” said Leung. “We have to let the UK government, politicians, and British firms such as HSBC know which side of the bread is buttered.”
 
Leung stepped down in 2017 after deciding not to seek a second term, citing family reasons. His tenure was marked by mass pro-democracy protests and the rise of a more confrontational independence movement.
 
 
 - Bloomberg
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