BEIJING • A Chinese government-backed website took aim at HSBC yesterday, accusing the Asia-focused lender of “maliciously” playing a role in the arrest of Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou.
Meng is fighting against extradition from Canada to the United States, where she is accused of bank fraud for misleading HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with a company operating in Iran, putting HSBC at risk of fines and penalties for breaking US sanctions on Teheran.
Anger in China over the treatment of Meng and Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, has led to criticism of London-based HSBC intensifying in recent weeks, with the latest salvo fired by the China.com.cn website.
“The role of HSBC in the Meng Wanzhou incident is already clear. HSBC’s credibility has also been wiped out,” said the commentary posted on the site backed by the State Council Information Office and the China International Publishing Group.
“In the US government’s political pursuit of Huawei, HSBC was the one who ‘handed the knife’,” it said in a column written under the byline Tang Hua, and signed by three editors.
HSBC had issued a statement last Saturday saying it had not participated in the decision by the US Department of Justice to investigate Huawei and that it had no “malice” against the company.
The Chinese website article dismissed HSBC’s denial as “meaningless”, adding: “Now, wallowing in degradation and with its reputation at rock bottom, HSBC may struggle to continue to enjoy treatment in China where it can break the pot it eats food from.”
A spokesman for HSBC in China declined to comment on the article.
HSBC, which last month broke from its usual political neutrality to back Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, generates the bulk of its revenue in Hong Kong and mainland China. Other official Chinese media outlets including the People’s Daily newspaper and the China Global Television Network have also targeted HSBC in the past week.