The freezing of Ted Hui’s assets proves HSBC is now an accessory to the Hong Kong national security law
British bank HSBC has frozen the assets of pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui and his family, writes Siobhain McDonagh MP. | PA Images
Hong Kong authorities are using HSBC to impose financial sanctions on pro-democracy figures and silence opposition. This is categorically unacceptable, HSBC should be standing with Hongkongers.
A responsible, integral and socially aware network of banks, all held responsible for their decisions and in which people trust, underpins successful economies worldwide. But not in Hong Kong. The latest reports of lawmaker Ted Hui highlight why it’s time for the international democratic world to act and stand with Hong Kong.
Last week it was reported that British bank HSBC has frozen the assets of pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui and his family. Hui is currently on bail and faces nine legal charges, all related to the new National Security Law and his pro-democracy activism.
HSBC claimed that Hui’s legal challenges are “unrelated” to the freezing of his bank account, which the bank described as containing “proceeds from unlawful activities”. But it is clear the Hong Kong authorities are now using HSBC to impose financial sanctions on pro-democracy figures and to silence the voice of the opposition.
It is not too much to expect HSBC to behave responsibly, putting the safety and needs of its customers, including those in Hong Kong, first. HSBC should be standing with Hongkongers, not the brutal Hong Kong authorities. At the very least innocent customers should have access to their own assets.
More action is necessary to pressure HSBC into doing what’s right: to protect its customers and offer them security rather than further uncertainty and abuse
If HSBC is going to freeze any assets, it should be those of the Hong Kong authorities responsible for the brutal crackdown on freedom and democracy, not those innocent protestors standing up for theses fundamental freedoms. Yet, the very opposite is happening in Hong Kong.
HSBC’s latest move to freeze the assets of Ted Hui and his family is consistent with the bank’s previous decision to support the National Security Law, which was imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in June. This support shocked the world because the law legitimised extreme brutality against pro-democracy figures and anyone who opposes the authorities. It has led to the arrest, abuse and harassment of many thousands of Hongkongers.
HSBC is now an accessory to the National Security Law. The freezing of Ted Hui’s bank account, as well as those of his family, demonstrates that the bank is now a knowing and voluntary participant in the law’s implementation.
Ted Hui is not alone. Ray Chan, a church pastor in Hong Kong, also found his bank accounts frozen after his church assisted young pro-democracy protesters. These politically motivated freezes must be countered.
The bank must change its approach if it is to retain an ounce of credibility. It must stand with its innocent customers. It must stand with those who believe in freedom and democracy. It must stand with Hongkongers.
It is categorically unacceptable for a British bank to collaborate with Beijing in the imposition of a tyrannic regime. More action is necessary to pressure HSBC into doing what’s right: to protect its customers and offer them security rather than further uncertainty and abuse.
I strongly urge HSBC to reconsider its position on this issue and, if they do not, I encourage any company who has dealings with HSBC to seek alternative business arrangements.
We all have a part to play in opposing tyranny and holding those who treat fundamental human rights with distain accountable for their actions. We will never allow innocent people’s rights to be violated without consequence.
Siobhain McDonagh is the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden.