Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP (United Kingdom) and Uffe Elbaek MP (Denmark) have written to HSBC Group Chairman Mark Tucker, after being refused a meeting to discuss HSBC’s actions in Hong Kong unless certain issues were taken off the table.
In a public letter, below, the MPs called on HSBC to release frozen assets belonging to Ted Hui and other Hong Kong pro-democracy activists. The letter also highlighted reports that HSBC is refusing to recognise BNO passports and visas issues by the UK government, leading to Hong Kongers unable to access their state pension funds.
HSBC Holdings Plc
8 Canada Square
London E14 5HQ
05 July 2021
Dear Mr Tucker,
Thank you for your letter of 2nd July.
We are surprised and saddened by your response, which raises a number of concerns.
In your letter you write that HSBC cannot choose for itself which “properly constituted rules” to obey internationally. It is our view that Hong Kong’s National Security Law is no such properly constituted law. As stated by the UK government, the National Security Law is a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration — a treaty lodged at the United Nations. That HSBC has repeatedly frozen the assets of pro-democracy activists charged under this law suggests that it is not only willing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s political repression but is also complicit in abetting direct violations of international law.
Since our last correspondence we are also aware of reports that HSBC is refusing to recognise British Nationals (Overseas) passports and visas for clients seeking to withdraw from their Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) pension accounts. If true, it is deeply disturbing that HSBC, as a bank headquartered in Britain, refuses to recognise passports and visas issued by the British government.
Together, these practices suggest a disturbing pattern of behaviour whereby HSBC prioritises profit seeking over honouring its commitments to its clients and upholding the international law on which its success depends.
While we would gladly accept an invitation to meet with open minds and a view to constructive engagement, we cannot accept the request that certain items be taken off the agenda. No firm, no matter how sizable or global, can consider itself above the gaze of parliamentary scrutiny in the jurisdictions in which it operates. To refuse to meet elected representatives without pre-conditions or caveats is an affront to the democratic values which underpin our free societies.
We urge you to reconsider your request and look forward to your reply.
Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP
Uffe Elbaek MP