HONG KONG — Hong Kong opposition politicians from The League of Social Democrats organized a rally outside HSBC Holdings to protest a decision by the bank to close the party’s accounts.
A group of five activists gathered in front of one of the iconic lion statues standing guard outside HSBC’s headquarters in the city’s central business district. They spoke to a large number of the press, with police watching closely, and held signs saying that the bank cared only about making money and encouraged the tyrant.
“Unfortunately, all three accounts in HSBC are our only accounts in Hong Kong,” said Mr. Dickson Chau, external vice president of the League of Social Democrats. “We can no longer receive donations or pay digitally. We can now only pay in cash.”
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He said the bank gave no reason for closing the accounts, but allowed the party to withdraw the money.
HSBC said the move was part of a regular review of account activity and due diligence requirements.
“Based on these assessments, HSBC may decide that we can no longer maintain banking relationships with certain customers,” a spokesperson said.
HSBC, Hong Kong’s largest bank, had to walk the tightrope following a China-mandated crackdown on civil liberties following massive pro-democracy protests that rocked the financial center in 2019.
The lender was criticized by activists in 2020 for freezing the accounts of a former pro-democracy legislator and a local church that helped protesters. It also saw some of its affiliates attacked after closing an account linked to the pro-democracy movement.
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HSBC was also reprimanded by British and American politicians after the CEO of the Asia-Pacific bank, Peter Wong, signed a petition in support of the national security law drafted by China.
Hong Kong police arrested more than 20 people on Sunday, the 34th anniversary of the crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, as authorities moved vigorously to prevent any public commemoration of the deadly event.
Ms. Chan Po-ying, president of the League of Social Democrats, was among those detained. She had taken over in 2021 after several core party members — including her husband, veteran activist Leung “Long Hair” Kwok-hung — were imprisoned or awaiting trial. BLOOMBERG