HSBC holds more than £2m worth of shares in a subsidiary of a China paramilitary organisation that has been accused of human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, it has been revealed.
The British bank has £2.2 million of shares in Xinjiang Tianye, which is a chemicals and plastics company, for an anonymous client.
The firm’s parent company is Xinjiang Tianye Group – a paramilitary and economic organisation that has helped the Chinese government monitor and detain Uyghur Muslims in the northern province of Xinjiang – which is currently under US sanctions.
The Sunday Times reports that the firm is under a raft of American sanctions, which make it illegal for US citizens to do transactions or services for Xinjiang Tianye Group.
This incudes American workers who work for companies that are based in other countries.
Beijing has placed around 1m Uyghurs in labour camps and there have been widespread reports of forced sterilisation and the wholesale destruction of mosques.
Many international organisations have labelled Beijing’s actions as genocide.
Senior Tory and arch China sceptic Iain Duncan Smith told The Times: “Project Kow-Tow is alive and well in some British companies. After all, HSBC seem more and more to have thrown their lot in with the despotic Chinese government.”
There has been growing concern among UK human rights groups about HSBC’s involvement with the Chinese government.
The bank supported China in imposing the National Security laws in Hong Kong, which effectively ended freedom of speech in the region.
A senior executive from HSBC – which is headquartered in the UK, but does much of its business in Hong Kong – explicitly and publicly supported the draconian new laws at the time.
HSBC executive Noel Quinn, shortly before the laws came into place, called for Beijing to stablise the security situation in Hong Kong after more than a year of local protests against the Chinese government.
The bank has also moved to freeze the accounts of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong under command of local police.
Then foreign secretary Dominic Raab criticised HSBC for supporting Beijing in Hong Kong last year, saying that human rights should not be “sacrificed on the altar of bankers’ bonuses”.