The Former Chief Executive of Hong Kong Leung Chun-ying, otherwise known as CY Leung, has said those with HSBC bank accounts, especially Hong Kong officials and delegates to mainland parliamentary bodies, should be wary of continuing their accounts with the bank.
Leung – who is a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – wrote in a Facebook post on Friday that “it has been more than a week and HSBC has not yet expressed its position on the national security law”.
He made the comments after the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada issued a joint statement expressing concerns over Beijing’s future controversial national security law.
The Chinese government argues the law is necessary to quell mass protests that erupted in Hong Kong last year, but Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp and overseas governments see it as the “death knell” of the wide-ranging autonomy that the former British colony enjoys under a 50-year, “one country, two systems” arrangement with Beijing.
In his social media post, Leung said the joint statement interfered in China’s internal affairs, that Hong Kong is in China, and that “we must clearly show these countries that Hong Kong is not their colony”.
“HSBC’s profits mainly come from China, but the board of directors and senior management are almost all British,” he wrote.
“In terms of political issues, this self-proclaimed British bank can’t make money from China while following other Western countries trying to do damage the country’s sovereignty, dignity, and the feelings of the people.”
He argued that much of the business HSBC does in China can be replaced overnight by mainland banks or banks from other countries.
He wrote that deputies in the National People’s Congress, members of the CPPCC, Hong Kong government officials, and people in the business sector with HSBC accounts should “protect themselves immediately and avoid becoming hostages like Huawei”.
Leung then signed off his message saying: “We need to let British agencies like the British government, politicians, and HSBC know which side of their bread is buttered”.
HSBC makes as much as 90 per cent of its profits in Asia and the vast majority of that in Hong Kong and mainland China. It is in the middle of the deepest restructuring in its 155-year history that will see it retreat from the US and Europe and become even more dependent on Asia for growth.
HSBC is also one of three banks, alongside Bank of China and Standard Chartered, allowed to issue banknotes in Hong Kong.
When contacted by The Financial Times, a spokeswoman for HSBC declined to comment on Leung’s words.