Hong Kong Media Tycoon Says Businesses Kowtowing to Beijing

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(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai said some of the city’s biggest companies have given in to pressure from Beijing to voice support for a controversial national security law drafted by China for the city.

HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc were among the latest to endorse the law, joining others such as Swire Pacific Ltd. and Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd. London-based HSBC was earlier criticized by Chinese state media and a former chief executive of Hong Kong for its silence on the draft legislation that’s provoked renewed protests in the former British colony.

“It is the cost world pays turning a blind eye to the #CCP bully,” Lai who owns pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, said in a post Thursday on his Twitter account. “Enough is enough.”

The new legislation would bar subversion, sedition and secession in Hong Kong, potentially undermining political freedoms assured for 50 years under the terms of 1997 handover by Britain to China.

U.K.-based bank HSBC Holdings Plc’s top Asia executive Peter Wong signed a petition backing the law on Wednesday, the same day Standard Chartered endorsed the Chinese law. The endorsement by the two British banks, which rely on Asia for most of their earnings, have come in defiance of U.K.’s opposition to the law.

Lai, 72, and his paper have been outspoken against Beijing’s tightening grip over Hong Kong. The tycoon has long been denounced as a traitor by Chinese state media and was named as one of the city’s “Gang of Four” behind protests that erupted last year in opposition to an extradition bill. Earlier this year, Hong Kong police arrested Lai, accusing him of participating in an “unauthorized assembly.”

In April, Lai pleaded for help for Apple Daily as advertising income dwindled amid political retaliation and the Covid-19 pandemic.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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