China ‘Bullying’ UK Over HSBC Hong Kong Accounts: Pompeo

August 26, 2020 Updated: August 27, 2020

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using “coercive bullying tactics” with the UK, said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing HSBC bank’s reported conduct toward Hong Kong account holders.

HSBC UK is reportedly denying Hong Kong-based executives of the pro-democracy publisher Next Media access to their personal bank accounts and credit cards, Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday.

The obstruction of access to HSBC accounts was just one example of China’s bullying of America’s “friends in the United Kingdom,” Pompeo said.

He also criticized HSBC for maintaining the bank accounts of people who had been “sanctioned” for denying the freedom of Hong Kongers, while closing the accounts of freedom seekers.

Pompeo cited an earlier occasion when HSBC sided with Beijing in its repression of freedom for Hong Kong citizens.

“Only a few months ago, HSBC’s Asia-Pacific CEO signed a petition supporting Beijing’s decision to crush Hong’s Kong’s autonomy and its people’s freedoms,” Pompeo said.

“Free nations must ensure that corporate interests are not suborned by the CCP to aid its political repression,” he added.

Hong Kong Marks One Year Since The Yuen Long Mob Attack
Riot police secure an area inside a shopping mall during a rally in Hong Kong on July 21, 2020. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

HSBC has in recent months faced mounting pressure on both sides of the Atlantic, as it attempts to balance its need to maintain access to the Chinese market with appeasing lawmakers in the United States and the UK critical of Beijing’s handling of the democracy movement in Hong Kong.

Bankers’ Bonuses

Last month, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab reprimanded HSBC and other banks for supporting China’s new national security law, saying the rights of the people of Hong Kong should not be sacrificed for bankers’ bonuses.

Senior British and U.S. politicians criticized HSBC and Standard Chartered in June after the banks backed China’s national security law for the territory.

Washington has criticized Beijing’s crackdown against pro-democracy opposition in the now Chinese-ruled city following the sweeping new national security law imposed on Hong Kong on June 30 that was widely condemned by Western nations.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a prominent democracy activist and top executive at Next Digital, was arrested Aug. 10 under the new security law, further stoking concerns about media and other freedoms promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China in 1997.

Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founder of Apple Daily, is detained by the national security unit in Hong Kong on Aug. 10, 2020. (Tyrone Siu /TPX Images of the day/Reuters)

Foreign Commonwealth Office

“We are in close contact with a wide range of businesses in Hong Kong and are working with them on the impact of the national security legislation and related developments”, a British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said in an email.

Pompeo said that the United States would help the UK withstand China’s bullying tactics.

“We stand ready to help the British government and its companies resist CCP bullying and stand for freedom,” he said.

An HSBC spokesperson declined to comment to The Epoch Times.

Reuters contributed to this report