A renewed criticism of British Bank HSBC was initiated by the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday with a statement by talking about the reported behavior and conduct of the bank towards its pro-democracy customers in Hong Kong.
He said that China was “bullying” the United Kingdom.
Citing reports that executives of Next Media based in Hong Kong were unable to access their HSBC bank accounts, Pompeo said that the British bank was “maintaining accounts for individuals who have been sanctioned for denying freedom for Hong Kongers, while shutting accounts for those seeking freedom.”
“Free nations must ensure that corporate interests are not suborned by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) to aid its political repression,” Pompeo said in a statement.
“We stand ready to help the British government and its companies resist CCP bullying and stand for freedom.”
There were no comments available from the London based bank on the comments of Pompeo. There were also no comments available from Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office on Pompeo’s assertion that the UK was being bullied by China.
Voice on both sides of the Atlantic have been very critical of the HSBC recent months with the bank itself trying to strike a balance that is required by it to retain its access to the Chinese market while also appeasing lawmakers in the United States and Britain who have been very critical of the handling of the democracy movement in Hong Kong by the Chinese government.
HSBC and other banks, who came out in support for China’s new and controversial security law imposed in the Hong Kong, were reprimanded last month by the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. He said that executives at the banks should not sacrifice the rights of the people of Hong Kong for ensuring their bonuses.
Following the banks backing China’s national security law for the territory, HSBC and Standard Chartered were criticized by senior British and US politicians in June.
After the imposition of the controversial and sweeping new security law on Hong Kong on June 30 that was widely condemned by Western nations, the US has severely criticized the crackdown against pro-democracy opposition by China in the now Chinese-ruled city.
The already existing concerns about the about media and other freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China in 1997 as further stoked by the arrest of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai under the new national security law August 10. Lai is viewed as a prominent democracy activist and a top executive at Next Digital.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)