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HSBC may have to choose between East and West because China has tightened its grip on Hong Kong



HSBC may have to choose between East and West because China has tightened its grip on Hong Kong

The Chinese ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, responded this week by accusing the country of “dirty interference” in Hong Kong and saying China’s treatment as an enemy is “entirely wrong.”

HSBC’s relations with the two countries made it a clear target because relations deteriorated, according to Willy Lam, an additional professor for the Center for Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Although the bank has been based in the UK since 1992, Hong Kong is the largest market and accounts for more than half of group profits. Asia more broadly generated more than 80% of HSBC’s profit last year. The bank plans to move more resources to the region in the near future due to a restructuring plan.
HSBC (HSBC) declined to comment further about his support for the law. But corporate leaders have reason to worry about a potential fall.
HSBC Chairman Mark Tucker in person be warned the British government that the bank could face retaliation from Beijing if Huawei, China’s technology giant, is prevented from doing business in Britain, The Telegraph reported last month, citing anonymous sources.

Split between two worlds

HSBC was founded in 1865 by Scottish businessman Thomas Sutherland, who took inspiration from the flag of his native country to create the iconic red and white hexagonal logo of the bank.

Until the 1990s, it was generally referred to as “the Hong Kong bank,” according to historians David Kynaston and Richard Roberts, who tracked the company’s rise in the book, “The Lion Wakes: A Modern History of HSBC.”

It even acted as Hong Kong’s unofficial monetary authority in some capacity when the city’s economy opened to the world, printed currencies and set the stage for foreign exchange, Kynaston and Roberts write.

“It can be said that we are a pseudo central bank,” HSBC’s former chairman, Michael Sandberg, was quoted in the book as saying in 1976. “Hong Kong’s interests and prosperity are very much in harmony with us.”

The HSBC office was described in Hong Kong, around 1903. This facility was built in 1886 with a portico and an octagonal dome.

In 1992, HSBC moved its headquarters to London to comply with the takeover regulations after it acquired Midland Bank, a large British retail bank that helped new owners nearly double its number of employees.

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Since then, the company has regularly considered the idea of ​​moving its headquarters from London.

In 2015, the same year the bank announced “the pivot to Asia,” the council consider that step, conducts a 10-month review of its operations throughout the world. Hong Kong is seen as a natural choice, given its deep roots there and lower corporate tax appeal. But the company director in the end decided to stay.
HSBC continues to plan to cut 35,000 jobs
Former CEO Stuart Gulliver said then that having headquarters in the UK and “a significant business section in the Asia Pacific” provides the best of both worlds to our stakeholders. “

Even as the company’s business grows elsewhere, HSBC might want to remain in London so as not to lose its status as a global-focused bank, according to Dragon Tang, a finance professor at Hong Kong University. He added that moving from the UK could be seen as a sign of surrender in the European market.

A company spokesman referred CNN Business to an earlier statement saying “there is no discussion to review HSBC’s global headquarters, and there are no plans to reopen the issue.”

Forced to choose

HSBC has a lot of experience in Hong Kong – and politicians know that.

In May, former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying chose the bank because he was silent on the law, demanding that HSBC express its support.
“HSBC’s profits mainly come from China,” Leung wrote in Facebook (FB) post. “Neither China nor Hong Kong owes HSBC anything. Its business in China can be replaced overnight by banks from China or other countries.”
Leung also told me Financial time that month that “HSBC has enjoyed unique privileges in Hong Kong, which should not be underestimated.”
A few days later, HSBC posted a photo on Chinese social media showing its Asia Pacific CEO signing a petition supporting national security laws in Hong Kong. (The photo was published before the law was passed and before the full legal text was published.)
It didn’t take long for Britain to respond. UK political leaders piled up at the bank last month, questioning why the company would allow one of its executives to make such a political statement.

“I just thought, ‘Wow,'” said Alistair Carmichael, a British MP who joined several MPs in writing to HSBC to express concern about the move. He argued that by succumbing to Beijing’s demands, the company had basically “offered itself” as political football.

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“They did nothing at all,” Carmichael told CNN Business, adding that he and his colleagues had not heard from the bank. “Once you choose one side, it’s very difficult to get away from that side.”

HSBC declined to comment on criticism received by banks from British politicians.

The bank has also long been floated as a potential target for retaliation by Beijing in its battle with the West over trade, technology and national security.

Huawei, for example, has been trying to persuade the British government for months that it can be trusted to help build the country’s 5G network – a partnership that seems increasingly messy.

Liu, the Chinese ambassador, warned this week that Britain “must bear the consequences” if China was treated as a “hostile country.”

And although he did not mention HSBC’s name, Chinese state media had previously suggested that the bank could appear on a long list of rumors foreign companies “unreliable” that China can be blacklisted.

Retaliation from China should not be a concern for HSBC. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the company for its actions, saying that “corporate kowtows” would not get the respect of banks in Beijing.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Washington is also looking for “ways to punish banks based in Hong Kong, specifically HSBC.” One proposal under consideration, according to the report, is to damage the peg between the Hong Kong dollar and the US dollar.

HSBC declined to comment on the news report. Shares of companies listed in Hong Kong fell 4.3% on Wednesday after the report, while shares listed in London fell 2.9%. Stocks continued to slide Thursday in Hong Kong.

A large banner hung at the HSBC entrance on 30 June 1997, the day before the handover from Britain to China in Hong Kong.

There is also anxiety within HSBC staff. An HSBC employee who has been with the bank for several years told CNN Business that workers in Hong Kong were angry when they learned of the company’s support for the law.

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“I am very disappointed,” said the employee, who asked for anonymity because he was afraid of being targeted by his comments. “Clearly, banks can imagine there are some concerns.”

HSBC declined to comment on the reaction from staff.

The employee said that he wrote to management last year expressing concern about Hong Kong’s increasingly politicized business environment, and that the company had assured him that he would stay out of the political upheaval.

“I was very proud of the bank,” he said. But “if you ask me whether I feel proud or not to be a member of this bank, surely the answer right now is ‘no.'”

As diplomatic Tensions are boiling, some observers warn that companies can be forced out of the political fence again.

“They are between the devil and the deep blue sea. They want to see how the situation in China and Hong Kong subside. They want to see how much political heat in Britain remains,” Philip Augar, a British banking expert, told BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday.

“But in the end,” he added, “I think they will definitely listen more to the Chinese.”

– Sharon Braithwaite and Charles Riley from CNN contributed to this report.

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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