HSBC Embraces China’s Crackdown on Hong Kong, Goes All-In on Asia Pivot

Beijing squeezes, and HSBC knows where it makes most of its money. Standard Chartered, another UK bank, did the same.

By Nick Corbishley, of WOLF STREET:

Global banking behemoth HSBC threw its full weight behind China’s imposition of security legislation on Hong Kong, arguing that the new law will help bring much-needed political stability and economic growth and development to the city. The bank’s kowtowing to Beijing is the inevitable culmination of the UK-based lender’s multiyear Asian re-pivot, but it also risks attracting U.S. ire. And if recent history is any indication, that tends not to end happily for global lenders.

In a post on one of HSBC’s social media accounts in China, the bank’s Asia-Pacific head Peter Wong signed a petition backing the law. “HSBC respects and supports any laws that stabilize the social order in Hong Kong and revitalize economic prosperity and development in Hong Kong,” Wong said in the post.

Mr. Wong’s comments were quickly seconded by the institution he represents. Asked to comment on the social media post, an HSBC spokeswoman in London said: “We respect and support laws and regulations that will enable Hong Kong to recover and rebuild the economy and, at the same time, maintain the principle of ‘one country two systems.’”

The governments of the U.S., the UK and their five-eye partners, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, would beg to differ. They assert that China’s new security law obliterates the one country, two systems principle, “dramatically eroding,” in the words of UK Premier Boris Johnson, the partial autonomy Hong Kong was granted when London handed back control of the city to Beijing in 1997. Yesterday, Johnson offered refuge to up to 3 million Hong Kong citizens, which is unlikely to have gone down well in Beijing…

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