The two British institutions that dominate Hong Kong’s banking system backed Beijing in the standoff over a proposed new security law, joining Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd. and some of the city’s biggest developers in wading into the political minefield of the former colony’s future.
HSBC Holdings Plc, born in the 19th century as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., and Standard Chartered Plc on Wednesday endorsed a Chinese proposal that critics say will diminish freedom and violate the “one country, two systems” principle that governs the territory.
The timing highlighted the growing tensions amid the coronavirus pandemic. The banks’ statements came on the eve of the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and with the U.S. convulsed by violent protests. The Trump administration issued an order suspending passenger flights from China-based airlines and the U.K. government has offered refuge to as many as 3 million Hong Kong residents.
“They have to protect their business, which doesn’t make it right,” said Tom Kirchmaier, a visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics. “The issue is that Britain is very weak on the global stage at the moment, and I doubt China will be concerned about any serious repercussions.”Dominating Market HSBC gets more than one-third of its global revenue from Hong Kong Source: Company filing
While not being the first to back Beijing, HSBC and Standard Chartered are in a uniquely de...