US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said HSBC had backed Beijing’s moves to end Hong Kong’s autonomy but warned such “corporate kowtows” got little in return. Mr Pompeo said the US was ready to help Britain seek alternatives after Beijing reportedly threatened to punish HSBC and break commitments to build nuclear power plants in the UK unless the Government allowed Huawei to participate in building a 5G network.
The US Secretary of State said: “The United States stands with our allies and partners against the Chinese Communist Party’s coercive bullying tactics.”
Mr Pompeo criticised HSBC’s Asia-Pacific CEO Peter Wong for signing a petition supporting Beijing’s plans to impose new security legislation on Hong Kong.
He said the “browbeating” of HSBC by China’s communist leadership “should serve as a cautionary tale”.
He said: “That show of fealty seems to have earned HSBC little respect in Beijing, which continues to use the bank’s business in China as political leverage against London.”
China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing hoped Washington would stop using Hong Kong to stoke fires and interfere in China’s affairs.
Relations between the world’s largest two economies have deteriorated rapidly since the start of the year over the coronavirus pandemic and Hong Kong.
Washington sees Huawei as an extension of the Chinese government and urges European allies to exclude it from mobile networks.
Mr Pompeo said Australia, Denmark, “and other free nations” had faced pressure from Beijing and it showed why countries needed to avoid economic overreliance on China and to guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence.
He said: “Free nations deal in true friendship and desire mutual prosperity, not political and corporate kowtows.”
HSBC Chairman Mark Tucker has reportedly warned Britain against a ban on networking equipment made by Huawei, claiming the bank could face reprisals in China.
Senior British and US politicians criticised HSBC and Standard Chartered last week after they both backed the national security law for Hong Kong.
HSBC went against the UK Government’s position and sided with Beijing, releasing a picture of Peter Wong, its senior executive in the Asia-Pacific, signing a petition in support of the measure.
Police said 36 men and 17 women were arrested for offences including unlawful assembly and participating in unauthorised assembly.
Protesters had defied a ban on gatherings of more than eight people introduced by the Hong Kong government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
However, those demonstrating have largely continued to socially distance.
More protests are planned in coming days, with pro-democracy supporters fearing the proposed national security legislation will dramatically stifle freedoms in the city.
While details of the security law or how it will operate have yet to be revealed, authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have said there is no cause for concern and the legislation will target a minority of “troublemakers.”
The standing committee of the National People’s Congress, the top decision making body of the Chinese parliament, will meet in Beijing later this month to deliberate on various draft legislation.
Published at Thu, 11 Jun 2020 12:27:00 +0000