A group of UK MPs and peers have demanded asset management giant BlackRock and the Wimbledon tennis tournament to cut ties with HSBC and Standard Chartered over their support for Beijing’s freedom of speech crackdown in Hong Kong.
The nine parliamentarians also called on the World Rugby Sevens and the British Open tournaments to refuse further sponsorship revenue from HSBC and Standard Chartered, writing that “the banks’ support of the brutal National Security Laws [in Hong Kong] is fundamentally unethical”.
HSBC and Standard Chartered are sponsors for the sporting events, while BlackRock are major shareholders in the pair.
Parliamentarians to sign the letter include members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong and the Treasury Select Committee, such as Labour MPs Andrew Gwynne and Siobhain McDonagh.
Tory peer Lord Joseph Shinkwin, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, said: “We encourage the organisers of all events that receive sponsorship from HSBC and Standard Chartered to ask themselves this question: Do they really want to be associated with a bank that takes its customers and partners for fools and acts as if they won’t care that the bank effectively supports the imprisonment and maltreatment of journalists, human rights campaigners and elected politicians, just for exercising freedoms we in the UK take for granted?
Beijing’s imposition of National Security Laws last year were criticised by governments around the globe, including the UK’s, for breaching international law.
The legislation made criticism of the Chinese government illegal in Hong Kong, with police also given powers to lock up people for things like making fun of the Chinese national anthem.
Senior officials from British-based HSBC and Standard Chartered, which rely largely from revenues coming from Hong Kong, stood by the draconian legislation.
HSBC has also been criticised for freezing assets of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong under order of local police.
Shinkwin said: “We also ask investors in both banks whether they wish to continue funding a bank that likely violates their own ethical code of practice, especially when it comes to human rights.
“These banks need to decide – either they stand for freedom and democracy or totalitarian repression?”
Prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law recently told City A.M. that companies “colluding” with the Chinese government in Hong Kong were “compromising their integrity”.
Law warned that the “compliance and collusion” with the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda threatened the West’s “democratic values”.
HSBC chief executive Neil Quinn last week told a Westminster committee that he stood by his firm’s calls for the Chinese government to “stablise” Hong Kong, after almost a year of civil unrest.
HSBC was contacted for comment and Standard Chartered declined to comment.