The leader of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, Joshua Wong, has called on the UK Government to “take vigorous action” to protect the former British colony from a controversial security law following Peter Wong’s move.
“HSBC’s case provides a vivid example demonstrating how China will use the national security law as new leverage for more political influence over the foreign business community in this international financial city,” he said.
“Business circles, banks, lawyers and scholars fear the law will introduce censorship to Hong Kong.”
Mr Wong, who has twice been jailed for his role in the campaign, called on the UK Government “to take vigorous actions and impose necessary sanctions” if China imposes the law, which criminalises anti-government movements.
HSBC’s possible backing of the law comes as the chief executive of Japanese rival Nomura told the Financial Times the bank was “seriously” rethinking its China strategy and the scale of its presence in Hong Kong as a result of the turmoil.
Tensions have risen this week after a vigil marking the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 was cancelled due to coronavirus, leading Amnesty International to accuse the police of exacerbating tensions ahead of the “disastrous” security law.
Donald Trump said the law meant the territory was no longer sufficiently autonomous from China to warrant special treatment, while Boris Johnson said he was ready to offer British citizenship to nearly 3m Hong Kong citizens if China imposes the rule.
“Many people in Hong Kong fear their way of life, which China pledged to uphold, is under threat,” Mr Johnson said. “If China proceeds to justify their fears, then Britain could not in good conscience shrug our shoulders and walk away.”