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How Colonialist Should We Expect HSBC To Be In Hong Kong?

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An interesting little question here. A Hong Kong democracy activist has fled the place. Seems a sensible thing to do really. At the same time HSBC appears to – this is disputed a little – have frozen his accounts in Hong Kong.

Hmm, well, no, we’re not happy with this, obviously. However, we do then come up to an interesting question – how colonialist are we?

A Hong Kong legislator who fled to Europe has called on regulators to investigate the actions of major banks including HSBC, after his accounts and those of his wife and parents were allegedly frozen.

Ted Hui is the latest pro-democracy figure to leave Hong Kong and the escalating crackdown on dissent which last week saw Jimmy Lai denied bail, and Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam jailed. On Monday eight people were reportedly arrested by the national security police over a small and peaceful student rally at the Chinese University of Hong Kong last month, including three accused of breaching the national security law.

Hui left Hong Kong for Denmark last week, before announcing that he and his family would not return. The family are now in the UK where they plan to live in exile.

At the weekend Hui alleged that bank accounts belonging to him and his family had been frozen, which he labelled “political retaliation through economic oppression”.

Yes, it probably is political retaliation and all that. We’re also agin’ it. But then what?

China is the de facto and Hong Kong itself is the de jure ruler of that piece of land. People who operate in that jurisdiction must obey the dictates of the de jure government.

Yes? I mean we do agree with that?

We have enough complaints here that Facebook, Google et al are entirely, wholly and without missing a jot not tittle, obeying the tax law of the UK. So we are all on that same page that businesses which operate here must obey UK law, right?

So, that must be true of HSBC as well then, right? That HSBC, in Hong Kong, must obey Hong Kong law?

After all, to do otherwise is to be colonialists. That foreign people in foreign must obey our law and damn what the slant eyes want to do in their own country.

Yes, yes, yes, of course the law shouldn’t be that way. Of course free speech is important, vital, protest is to be allowed and all that. No, we’re not happy that fascism is being imposed.

But still – which set of law should a legally constituted in Hong Kong business be obeying? Obviously and clearly Hong Kong law. Which is, as everywhere else, what the government of Hong Kong says it is. For we have rather got over this idea that we here get to decide what the laws there should be, haven’t we?

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Tim, in a way I agree, but banking is international, and HSBC operates in many countries, not just HK-China. They even operate here in the UK, having taken over a number of traditionally British banks.

    Are you happy that on a whim a bunch of corrupt, WuFlu spreading, murderous, criminal arseholes can steal a citizen’s money? Perhaps, as a legislator, he stole it in the first place.

    Personally, I suspect that the world would be a better place if the totality of Chinese Communists caught their own disease and died painfully from it, but not before infecting the Left across most of the rest of the world.

  2. HSBC is open about it, very senior people have gone on record, that they are enthusiastic kissers of Jinping’s ring.

    Their windows were not smashed, their branches not torched in the riots last year, during which almost every branch of every mainland-owned bank on HK island and Kowloon was damaged.

    Hong Kong was handed over to a construct called the “Peoples Republic of China”, not to the country with which the lease was agreed. If any handover was even necessary (it’s debatable whether the China of 1898 has a successor state at all), then Hong Kong should have been returned to Taipei.

    • I’ll agree the UK could have called China’s bluff and dared them to invade as the Injuns invaded Goa. But since the UKlanders had horrid white skins unlike the noble yellow Chinee, I’d say the Chinese would have got away with it.

      Of course Maggie could have bombarded China with nukes, but the Chinese had nukes too. You’ll have noted that Maggie simply rubber-stamped Mugabe’s takeover of Zimbabwe. The fact is, quite reasonably, Britain simply wasn’t interested in further colonial squabbles at that time.

      • Hong Kong was militarily indefensible. Although the UK owned the island (and, I think, Kowloon), the ‘New Territories’ were on a 99-year lease that had expired, so we had no legal right to keep them. And without them HK has no water supply. The PRC could have just turned the taps off and stood back.

  3. It’s not so much HSBC having to obey HK law, it is that the CCP-controlled administration and, in particular, the police force, are abusing the law. However, HSBC is not an innocent party. As BiG says, the company is an enthusiastic CCP-arse licker and the local CEO, Peter Wong, is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and publicly signed a petition praising the introduction and adoption of the National Insecurity Law.

    Anyone who thinks that HK is still a reliable bastion of the Rule of Law needs to consult a psychiatrist.

    Regretably I must post anonymously, merely stating what I have makes me liable for at least 10 years in gaol, or possible life.

  4. When I left Hong Kong I sent my money ahead of me. How long did Hui have? The quote states he announced he wasn’t returning a week /after/ leaving. I’d have extracted all my assets before announcing I wasn’t returning to the bosom of the CCP.

  5. I’m not happy with these people being called pro-democracy activists by the press. Sure, it’s a euphemism, but I think it’s one that people are starting to take at face value and they should not.
    These activists do not want HK to live under the 1996 constitution until 2046 and then become a part of the People’s Republic of China after that. They want HK to be a normal independent country throughout. There’s a palette of phrases for that, but the UK press won’t use them.

  6. A Hong Kong banking license is surely one of the most valuable assets in the world. You want HSBC to give it away free gratis and for nothing? I also seem to remember a piece that Tim wrote recently saying that morality is something to be decided by the customers, not the managers or shareholders. If HSBC has blundered here, their customers will soon let them know.

    • Agreed: CYBG have decided that my near-half-century tenure as a Yorkshire Bank customer shall be terminated and I shall henceforce be a Virgin customer. I’ve repeatedly warned them what would happen if they did this, and consequently I am reluctantly looking to move my debts elsewhere, as are a growing number of other customers.

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