“If companies make political statements, they must accept the responsibilities of the company that follows them,” Cumming said.
Even before Wong’s photo was published, HSBC faced a difficult situation. The former Hong Kong leader, Young Chun Ying, had previously privatized the bank because of his silence on the law, requiring HSBC to express its support.
Even Pompeo noticed that HSBC still faced cold reception in China.
“This show of loyalty seems to have received little respect for HSBC in Beijing, which continues to use the bank’s business in China as a political leverage,” he said, describing it to the Communist Party of China as “cautious.” “
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that everyone has “the right to make independent decisions on the basis of merit.”
“For some in the United States, the world may only lie in two categories – either they are with the United States and they must attack China, or China has forced them to,” Hua Chunning said when asked about Pompeo’s statement. “These views are narrow-minded and funny.”
The attacks are a major headache for HSBC, which started its life more than 150 years ago as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation with the aim of financing trade between Asia and Europe. The bank still has a large commercial presence in the region: Last year, its divisions in Hong Kong and China withdrew enough funds to eliminate losses in the UK and keep the company profitable.
HSBC declined to comment. Hong Kong-listed bank shares closed 1.5% lower on Wednesday.
Willie Lam, associate professor at the China Studies Center at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, said the bank, as a British company, was at risk of becoming collateral damage between the UK and China.
Lam said: “It is not surprising that the Chinese have settled on HSBC as a target.”
Meanwhile, Washington is trying to “build an alliance” of allies against Beijing, according to Lam. He said Pompeo’s decision to call HSBC specifically reflects the “worsening” tensions between the United States and China.
Ewen McSweeney, Isaac Yi, and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.