UK banks ‘complicit’ in suppressing rights of Hong Kong exiles according to parliamentary group

HSBC bank storefront - Chinese government accused of human rights abuses of Hong Kong citizens via British banks
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British banks are “complicit” in China’s “gross human rights abuses of Hongkongers”. This is because they refuse Hongkongers’ access to their pensions after they flee to the UK, lawmakers concluded on 8 February.

An inquiry by Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) showed:

 many Hongkongers have been denied access to their pensions and personal finances, meaning that they are unable to create new and safe lives for themselves.

Asia-focused British banks HSBC and Standard Chartered were specifically identified in the report.

Brutal crackdown

Under the British National Overseas visa system, the UK has handed permanent residency to more than 100,000 of Hong Kong residents who have fled China’s crackdown in the former British colony.

The parliamentary report noted that:

On top of brutalising protesters and political dissidents within Hong Kong itself, the Chinese Communist Party also seeks to financially isolate those who’ve turned to the British government for safety and support, denying them the pension and personal savings they have spent their lives paying into.

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It added that:

Hongkongers who have fled to the UK… are being denied what should be their rightful access to their pension fund by British banks including HSBC.

British banks complicit

Alistair Carmichael, co-chair of the APPG for Hong Kong, said that the report:

reveals that UK banks, including HSBC, have been complicit in the repression of the human rights of innocent Hongkongers, including those who have fled the increasingly authoritarian pro-Beijing government of Hong Kong.

These banks cannot continue to act with impunity, and the UK government must act to assist those… who are suffering from the impact of these anti-democratic laws.

HSBC said in a statement that the bank has:

an enduring commitment to Hong Kong, its people and communities.

It is where we were founded nearly 160 years ago.  Like all banks, we have to obey the law, and the instructions of the regulators, in every region in which we operate.

This is not, however, the first time that HSBC has been known to say one thing and do another. In spite of the bank’s commitment to attain net-zero carbon levels by 2050, it drew ire for its continued massive investment in fossil fuels. In 2021, Extinction Rebellion members smashed the windows of its Canary Warf headquarters in an act of protest. They left stickers that read “£80 billion into fossil fuels in the last 5 years”.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Mtaylor848, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license, resized to 770*403

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

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