China blasts 'ridiculous' Pompeo criticism of HSBC

A man walks past graffiti against banking giant HSBC during a pro-democracy march in Hong Kong on January 1, 2020

China on Wednesday blasted "narrow-minded and ridiculous" views in the United States after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticised HSBC for backing Beijing's controversial Hong Kong security law.

Pompeo on Tuesday called HSBC a "cautionary tale" and warned of businesses' overreliance on China after the Asia-focused British banking giant last week published a picture of its top Asia executive, Peter Wong, signing a petition backing the measure.

"That show of fealty seems to have earned HSBC little respect in Beijing, which continues to use the bank's business in China as political leverage against London," Pompeo said in a statement.

"Beijing's aggressive behaviour shows why countries should avoid economic overreliance on China and should guard their critical infrastructure from CCP influence," he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

China's rubber-stamp parliament last month endorsed plans to enact a law that will punish subversion and other perceived offences in Hong Kong, a move some activists say will kill the former British colony's promised freedoms.

Pompeo responded by declaring that Hong Kong will no longer be considered autonomous from mainland China in the eyes of US law.

Beijing on Wednesday criticised such views as "narrow-minded and ridiculous," saying that the business community in Hong Kong had made an "objective and fair evaluation" of the proposed legislation.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged the US at a regular press briefing to "stop spreading dissent and stirring up trouble."

HSBC offered support for the law after public pressure from a pro-Beijing figure in Hong Kong who pointed to the bank's reliance on business in China.

HSBC executive Wong, speaking to Chinese state media agency Xinhua, voiced hope that the law would bring "long-term stability and prosperity" to Hong Kong.

Other British companies that have backed the law, bucking London's official position, include bank Standard Chartered.

Pompeo on Tuesday also renewed his call on all countries to shun Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which Washington says will jeopardise national security if it is allowed to dominate construction of the fifth-generation internet.