Peter Wong, HSBC’s top man in Asia, is stepping away from day-to-day management to take up a position as the bank’s chair in Hong Kong.
Wong has been credited with the bank’s rise to become the undisputed financial heavyweight in the region, with the firm booking most of its profits on the continent.
Wong has been at the bank for more than 15 years, and served as Asian boss since 2010.
But despite a glittering banking career, he has become a lightning rod for criticism of the bank after signing a petition last year backing a controversial, authoritarian crackdown in Hong Kong.
Wong put the bank’s support behind China’s National Security Law, which severely restricts democratic freedom in the territory and has led to a number of pro-democracy protestors seeking exile.
The bank had previously pursued a neutral course in debates around the governance of the territory, which in theory has more freedoms than the rest of China.
But Beijing has recently sought to bring the territory more in line with the rest of the country, effectively ending the “one country, two systems” framework which was supposed to last until 2047.
The National Security Law is so strict that the United Kingdom opened up immigration avenues for Hongkongers fleeing from the new restrictions.
Wong, along with a number of other senior business figures, backed the crackdown. Critics noted that he also sits on the Chinese Communist Party’s Political Consultative Conference.
David Liao and Surendra Rosha will step into Wong’s shoes.