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The real reason HSBC and Standard Chartered aren’t talking

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OK, OK, OK. I said this blog is not political, but it’s got a bit that way this week after my comments on HSBC and Standard Chartered, China and Hong Kong. In fact, I feel I’ve opened a bag of hornets and therefore I’m not going to continue this theme further … but do feel compelled to share one last piece for balance.

On Monday, I said that HSBC and Standard Chartered were wrong for not taking a position on what is happening in Hong Kong. My issue is the silence of the banks.

On Tuesday, I shared a long post from a reader who was correcting the position, and making it clear that the demonstrators and protesters are rioters, ruining life for Hong Kong citizens who mainly support the introduction of a National Security Law.

Oh dear, that’s stirred up a ton of worms.  Maybe I shouldn’t have posted it, but I like balance. The key point the reader was making is that we, in the West, see things through propaganda geared against China. We get a one-sided view that is distorted.

I don’t like to see things through one lens. That’s why I query everything about technology and finance from both sides of the fence. I like to see things in the round.

Therefore, to close my blogs about Hong Kong, I wanted to share a few more reader responses to make sure this is a balanced view. You can then make your own mind up.

Oh, and why three blogs on Hong Kong? Because it’s a key financial centre and because China is the superpower today.

First, another email:

Dear Chris,

I do sincerely suggest and wish you can remove your recent article reposting an email from another reader.

There is fake information in it, for example "people get paid to participate in each protest. 400 pounds per walk.". There is no evidence provided by the government or any pro-government media at all so far in this year. It is purely a rumor.

As a responsible author, I recommend you better remove the post to avoid spreading fake information.

I am one of your reader from HK. Frankly speaking, the situation in HK in this year is complicated. I would not say that reader's point of view is totally incorrect. There is violence in the city -- both the protesters and the police.

In Chinese, there is a say that "you cannot clap with one hand". The issue is not only come from or worsen by protester or government any one side. However, definitely, that reader's email sent to you gets biased from his pro-government point of view.

Before you get the full picture of what is happening in HK and share the view from your own after thorough understanding, perhaps it may not be wise to simply repost this HK protest topic.

Second, a view from Linkedin:

Felt compelled to message you after your recent post / email from a HK citizen.

As a guest in Hong Kong, living here with my family, I can tell you, you haven't got it wrong. Witnessing the erosion of freedoms in this city, including free speech, right to assemble, right to protest - these are real and can not be ignored and should never be excused.

There were many factual inaccuracies in the email that you received, too many to point out.

For an easy way to get a feel for what is happening in Hong Kong, I urge you to follow 'HongkongIloveyou852' or 'peoplevsbeijing' on Instagram.

Real, unfiltered accounts of what is happening on the "front lines". Ordinary Hong Kong people, young and old, taking mostly peaceful action to protest. Being met with an increasingly authoritarian response.

Whatever your political perspective , Hong Kong is changing at the will of the CCP, and that is something that you were right to call out.

And another one:


Read your 'Am I wrong article'. I largely agree with your position. I too lived in HK and in mainland China. My son is half Chinese. I was in HK during the riots. The causes have little to do with China, your view is on point. However a couple of small things.

HK itself was not part of the handover agreement as you highlight but it was exchanged with an agreement where the UK certainly did not have the upper hand. China broke this agreement as it has agreements on every border and beyond. Your analogy of the gun is good. Tibetans and Uighurs resonate with this. I don’t think China is worse than any Western nation in this regard, but I certainly do not think it is the step forward you argue.

Not all the protesters were paid, destructive hooligans, they came from all walks of life, rich and poor, educated and not educated. Culturally HK is very different to mainland China. Values are very different. This of course may be a function of Western influenced education but change always evokes fear.

In China education teaches hate in exactly the same way you describe but obviously aimed at other races .. internal and external to China. Chinese demonstrators are paid to turn up. Thugs are paid to riot or evict Chinese from their own houses. Many Chinese townships have resisted this in the same way you describe though this is rarely covered by any media. So one bias will be replaced by another but I’m not sure it will be the improvement you imply.

Regarding discussion of politics and having nothing to fear in China. This is absolutely not true. The Chinese are famous for creating new words and phrases to communicate indirectly to avoid being arrested or penalized. And of course, many have gone to jail for not being so discreet with no legal recourse as you are fully aware. Again, this is not dissimilar to the US plea bargain system with a 99.6% conviction rate. But I’ll take Commonwealth Law in a heartbeat over both of them.

Anyhow, always good to have balanced perspectives.  You are a troublemaker!

Then another email:

Chris, I stayed in HK for 15 years and after all, I am now considering to move back to China. Cannot agree more with the post you shared but most people in Hong Kong and the west do not agree with it and reacted based on their short of knowledge of Hong Kong and China.

And a tweet:

The rioters are just that: rioters

What is clear to me, based upon my blogs this week, is that it looks like the general picture is a lose-lose situation. Support China, and you anger the people in America. Resist China, and you get sanctioned by China. This is best illustrated by Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s richest man.

To some he is the “Cockroach King,” accused of being a closet supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and a traitor to China. To others — namely the Trump administration and its allies — he is a Chinese Communist Party loyalist who can’t be trusted with critical infrastructure.

This is the real reason why HSBC and Standard Chartered are too weak to have a voice, just as Google, Microsoft and others.

“As Hong Kong grapples with a draconian new security law, the tiny territory is emerging as the front line in a global fight between the United States and China over censorship, surveillance and the future of the internet. Long a bastion of online freedom on the digital border of China’s tightly managed internet, Hong Kong’s uneasy status changed radically in just a week. The new law mandates police censorship and covert digital surveillance, rules that can be applied to online speech across the world. Now, the Hong Kong government is crafting web controls to appease the most prolific censor on the planet, the Chinese Communist Party.”

The New York Times

Anyways, you can make your own mind up. For me yes, it is time to move on but take note: I still believe in the future coming from China, as I have for over twenty years, just so you know. And, what I mean by that, is the future political, economic, social and technological forces for change for the future will be driven by the actions of China.


Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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