22 September 2021
MPs and peers to investigate if British banks contributed to political repression in Hong Kong
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong has announced that it is launching an inquiry into the actions of British banks operating in Hong Kong.
The inquiry seeks to establish whether British banks have contributed to suppression in Hong Kong, including of the human rights to freedom of expression, movement, assembly and association, and property. It will also invite evidence on whether British banks have acted in line with their duties to protect human rights and if the actions of British banks create any risk to the UK.
Following the imposition of the draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong by the Chinese government last year, a number of banks have been accused of supporting the government’s political crackdown. HSBC’s CEO Noel Quinn was called before the Foreign Affairs Committee to answer questions on the bank’s role in freezing the accounts of pro-democracy activists targeted by the Hong Kong Police Force.
The National Security Law is archaic, broad legislation being used to intimidate and repress political activism in the city. Several Hong Kong activists have complained of British banks freezing their assets, and there have also been reports that Hongkongers fleeing to the UK under the British National (Overseas) visa scheme have been unable to access their pensions savings with British banks.
Submissions for evidence to this inquiry will close at 11:59pm on 31st October 2021. More information about the APPG’s work and the inquiry can be found online here: https://www.hkinquiry.org/
Alistair Carmichael MP and Green Party Peer Natalie Bennett, co-chairs of the APPG on Hong Kong, said:
“For a long time, Hong Kong has been an extremely lucrative city for banks looking to expand their business interests in Asia. The Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly authoritarian hold on Hong Kong, however, is starting to muddy the waters.
“These banks benefit from the UK government’s commitment to the rule of law and respect for human rights, and as such these are principles they should be expected to uphold when conducting their business abroad.
“This inquiry will aim to establish whether UK banks are affording Hongkongers the rights and dignity they deserve and shed new light on the responsibilities of such businesses operating in foreign jurisdictions