HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – Senior British and U.S. politicians criticised HSBC (HSBA.L) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) on Thursday after the banks backed China’s national security law for Hong Kong, in conflict with the British government’s opposition to the proposed legislation.
In a break from their usual policy of political neutrality, the British banks on Wednesday expressed support for the law even as it drew global condemnation, including from Britain, and revived anti-government demonstrations in the Asian financial hub of Hong Kong.
Shares in HSBC, which is Britain’s biggest bank, fell more than 1% in London, paring earlier gains in its Hong-Kong listed stocks while Standard Chartered shares in London were flat.
“I wonder why HSBC and StanChart are choosing to back an authoritarian state’s repression of liberties and undermining of the rule of law,” Tom Tugendhat, British Conservative Party member and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted.
Florida senator Rick Scott tweeted that HSBC had “chosen profits over human rights.”
Asked about the position taken by both banks, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “If China proceeds with this security legislation, it would be in direct conflict with its obligations under the Joint Declaration … our message is both clear and shared by our international partners.”