Jardine Voices Support for China’s Security Law in Hong Kong

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(Bloomberg) -- Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd., one of Hong Kong’s oldest British trading houses, joined major businesses voicing support for a controversial national security law drafted by China’s central government for the city.

“Establishing a legal framework for safeguarding national security is very important and can ensure continued investment in Hong Kong,” the group said in a full-page advertisement in the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao Wednesday. “The Jardines Group has roots in Hong Kong and will continue to invest. Its promise to Hong Kong has never changed.”

The 187-year-old “hong,” or British trading firm in Hong Kong, is lining up behind legislation that has provoked street protests by pro-democracy supporters, who say the law gives Beijing too much power. Top business leaders including the city’s richest tycoon, Li Ka-shing, have defended Beijing’s move, while HSBC Holdings Plc. has come under criticism from the city’s former chief executive Leung Chun-ying for remaining silent.

Li, founder of retail, telecommunications and ports conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., last month sent statements to pro-Beijing papers in which he defended China’s right to address its national security concerns. His son Victor Li, who took over his business empire in 2018, also issued a statement expressing hope that the new law can help the city stabilize and recover.

Swire Pacific Ltd., the parent company of Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., and Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., the city’s largest developer, are also among top companies that have voiced support for the law.

Founded in July 1832 in Canton as a tea and opium trader, Jardine’s fortunes have been closely linked to China’s. In 1994, Jardine moved its Hong Kong listing to Singapore, three years before Britain returned the city to China. Its businesses include Mandarin Oriental hotels to Dairy Farm supermarkets.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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