Hong Kong: HSBC Freezes Church’s Bank Account After Church Aids Pro-Democracy Movement

HONG KONG, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 12: Protesters sing songs and shout slogans after gathering at the IFC Mall on September 12, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy protesters have continued demonstrations across Hong Kong despite the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill as demonstrators call for the city's Chief Executive …
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

A church in Hong Kong has had its bank account frozen after it provided humanitarian support for protesters during the city’s recent pro-democracy demonstrations, its pastors revealed Monday.

In an open letter addressed to HSBC CEO Peter Wong, the Good Neighbour North District Church confirmed that its HSBC account had been frozen, as well as the accounts of pastor Roy Chan and his wife, “without any prior notice or justification.”

The post read:

Not only the sole account of the church (with the unsuccessful experience of setting bank accounts at other non-China funded banks in HK) was found frozen today (7 December) without any prior notification nor justification provided, but also the accounts of the Church pastor, Mr. Chan Hoi Hing Roy, and his wife have been allegedly frozen.

It went on to explain how his church provides various community services such as shelter for homeless people that they will be unable to operate without a working bank account. “Freezing the church account would lead to immediate termination of the hostel service, inevitably forcing the homeless to be homeless again,” he noted.

Chan went on to accuse HSBC of suspending the various accounts as an act of “political retaliation” after his church provided humanitarian assistance to those participating in the mass pro-democracy demonstrations.

He explained:

This is no doubt an act of political retaliation. In the past year, our group “Safeguard Our Generation” mainly comprised of middle-aged and elderly volunteers was determined to offer humanitarian aid to protestors at the frontline.
Such incidents [have] severely eradicated dissent in Hong Kong, suppressing freedom among religions and community service workers.
We are now urging HSBC to unfreeze the relevant accounts and to provide justification on freezing the accounts earlier. HSBC is undoubtedly exploiting the well-established independent financial system and sabotaging the benefits of individuals and groups of Hong Kong, as well as foreign investors within the territory. Hongkongers will demonstrate their determination in saying “NO” to injustice with what they own in hand.

Such repression of political opposition is now commonplace in Hong Kong, whose Chinese-controlled authorities have illegally implemented a “national security law” that effectively outlaws any kind of political dissidence.

HSBC, which is officially known as The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, has openly expressed its support for China’s attempts to crack down on the region. In July, Reuters reported that wealth managers at the company were scrutinizing whether their clients in Hong Kong had any ties to the pro-democracy movement to ensure they were complying with all of Beijing’s demands.

On Tuesday, the exiled pro-democracy legislator Ted Hui also announced that his bank account had been frozen by HSBC after he fled to Denmark in fear of his safety, in a move he similarly described as “political retaliation through economic oppression.” He added that his family would start moving their wealth to other banks “because of their complete distrust in HSBC,” while also calling on regulators to investigate the bank and other corporations for violations of its customer’s economic rights.

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