A senior HSBC exec has apologised after accusing the UK of being ‘weak’ by responding to American pressure to toughen its stance on China.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles made the comments at a closed-door event, which were then leaked to Bloomberg News.
The former British Ambassador has said he was “speaking at a private event under Chatham House Rules and my personal comments do not reflect the views of HSBC.
“I apologise for any offence caused.”
HSBC also said the remarks were of a personal nature.
HSBC, which makes around four of every five pounds of its profit in Asia, has been criticised in the past for being too close to China.
In particular it was slammed for backing Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which effectively criminalised protest and dissent in the now Beijing-held territory.
It also received criticism for responding positively to demands to set up Communist Party groups within the organisation.
The US and China has been locked in an ongoing escalation of trade tariffs, with Chinese mobile company Huawei – banned first from US mobile networks and then the UK – at the centre of a number of flashpoints.
Social media phenomenon TikTok, owned by Chinese firm Bytedance, has been another bone of contention.
Cowper-Coles is also the chairman of the China Britain Business Council group.