MPs have hit out at HSBC after the banking giant have asked for support over the new Chinese security laws in Hong Kong.
HSBC’s chief executive Peter Wong signed a petition in favour of the new law that bans insults over the Chinese national anthem.
Wong has been accused of stabbing Hong Kongers in the back and Neil O’Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, called on people to think about switching their bank accounts.
O’Brien tweeted, “If you bank with HSBC you are with a bank that is backing Beijing’s repressive new security laws, designed to snuff out freedom in Hong Kong. Other banks are available.”
Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative member for Tonbridge and Malling said, “I wonder why HSBC and [Standard Chartered] are choosing to back an authoritarian state’s repression of liberties and undermining of the rule of law? Where does this fit in their definition of corporate social responsibility?”
In a statement, HSBC said, “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’.”
Standard Chartered said, “We believe the national security law can help maintain the long-term economic and social stability of Hong Kong. The ‘one country, two systems’ principle is core to the future success of Hong Kong and has always been the bedrock of the business community’s confidence.
“We hope greater clarity on the final legislative provisions will enable Hong Kong to maintain economic and social stability.
“We remain positive that Hong Kong will continue playing a key role as an international financial hub and Standard Chartered is committed to contributing to its continued success.”
Bill Blain, market strategist at Shard Capital said, “We can all act shocked and damn them for supping with the devil, but neither bank had any real choice but to make the unpalatable decision to support the unsupportable.
“Both know their futures depend too much on China’s patronage to survive without kowtowing. However, they have written the first lines of the final few paragraphs of their own obituaries. Banks that are run to appease regulators and flatter Governments are unlikely to thrive.”