British banks, including HSBC, ‘colluded’ in Hong Kong’s human rights suppression, lawmakers find

British banks in Hong Kong, including HSBC, have been complicit in the suppression of human rights by actively supporting the national security law in Beijing, a group of British lawmakers uncovered in an investigation.

and report The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong (APPG) said Wednesday that there were “numerous instances” of banks denying Hong Kongers access to pensions and other funds.

On June 30, 2020, Beijing imposed a broad and vaguely worded national security law, effectively banning dissenting voices inside and outside Hong Kong.

Then-British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the legislation constituted a “clear and grave violation” of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

In 2021, UK banking operations came under scrutiny after HSBC froze the accounts of former Hong Kong lawmaker and pro-democracy MP Ted Hui and his family.

A day after Hui announced his asylum application in the UK on 3 December 2020, HSBC froze his bank accounts along with those of his wife and parents.

After Hui told the media about the incident, the bank temporarily released their accounts before refreezing them under orders from Hong Kong police who accused Hui of money.
Laundering, embezzling crowdfunding he raised, violating national security laws.

Epoch Times photo
An undated photo of former Hong Kong Alderman Ted Hui at a rally in Sydney. (Huang Jiachuan/The Epoch Times)

HSBC group chief executive Noel Quinn, who was heavily criticized in January 2021 by parliamentarians on the Foreign Affairs Committee’s special committee, said banks must comply with local laws and that “these It is not my position to make moral or political judgments on the matter.” “

After launching its investigation into bank behavior in September 2021, the Hong Kong APPG received evidence from a range of respondents, including individual Hong Kong citizens, human rights groups and UK banks.

According to a study, UK banks could prevent Hong Kongers from accessing compulsory provident funds by denying UK national (overseas) status or BN(O) status as proof of permanent departure from Hong Kong. I know you refuse to do it.

This meant that Hong Kongers who migrated to the UK via the BNO route had no access to money and found it difficult to settle down.

Banks have also denied Hong Kongers access to bank accounts and pensions, contributing to “the suppression of the principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,” the report said.

The report said HSBC had violated the UN Guiding Principles, stating that “only by acknowledging that references to ‘all applicable law’ refer to domestic laws such as national security laws, the principles were in fact It also refers to applicable international human rights law.”

Lawmakers asked HSBC to at least “demonstrate an effort to respect human rights” by seeking advice on how to comply with international human rights standards.

Given the mounting pressure from Hong Kong authorities and national security laws, the report said banks “need to recognize their overarching human rights responsibilities and demonstrate the necessary moral leadership that has so far been lacking.” .

They also called on the UK government to unfreeze the accounts of political targets in the UK and Hong Kong, and demanded that the banks take action against Hong Kongers arrested or prosecuted under the security law. Banks in the UK who demand that assets be released or property disclosed and uphold strict laws.

HSBC Asia-Pacific CEO Peter Wong, who is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, signs the petition just days after China’s National Assembly passed a draft resolution on the National Security Law in late May 2020. . He also told China’s state media, Xinhua News Agency, that he supported the bill and opposed the rumored US sanctions against the law at the time.

Another British bank, Standard Chartered, also openly supported the Security Act.

Jimmy Lai
On February 9, 2021, Apple Daily founder and media mogul Jimmy Lai leaves the Court of Final Appeals in a Hong Kong prison van. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Mark Clifford, chairman of the Hong Kong Liberty Commission Foundation, said HSBC’s complicity in Hong Kong’s political crackdown should not be tolerated.

“British banks’ actions are cruel to those who want to leave Hong Kong and start a new life. Pensions are frozen for people who have nothing to do with politics. This is pure and simple. “It’s a nasty theft and banks like HSBC are robbing working families who only want a free life. Anyone who thinks this is the norm in Hong Kong today should be lying,” Clifford said. said in a statement.

“The APPG report exposes the perverse behavior of Hong Kong authorities and the collusion of international financial institutions. We should not be complacent when it comes to dealing with an organization that kills,” he added.

HSBC said in a statement: This is where our company was founded about 160 years ago.

“Like all banks, we must comply with laws and regulatory instructions everywhere, including Hong Kong.”