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U.K.’s largest bank accused of profiting from Uyghur forced labor

  • Published on
    January 9, 2022
  • Category:
    Forced Labor
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Shares in the persecution of Uyghurs?

British bank, HSBC, has admitted to holding over 3 million dollars of shares in Chinese chemical and plastics company, Xinjiang Tianye Group.

Last year, Sheffield Hallam University released a report that found Xinjiang Tianye documents suggesting the company’s role in a many “poverty alleviation programs” including “labor transfers” and “vocational training programs.” These terms are synonymous with the systematic erasure of Uyghur culture and breakdown of the population through forced labor and other human rights violations.

Further, Xinjiang Tianye is a self-described ”state-owned enterprise in the eighth division of XPCC.”

XPCC is the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, also known as “the corps” – the state economic and paramilitary organization which controls much of the Uyghur Region and also runs some of the infamous detention and forced labor camps.

Sanctioned by the U.S.

The Times reports,

The group controls numerous publicly traded subsidiaries, including Xinjiang Tianye, which is listed on the Shanghai stock exchange and is, according to academic research, itself directly involved in the abuses, including forced labour transfers.

The US subjected the corps to sanctions under the global Magnitsky Act in 2020, citing its “serious rights abuses against ethnic minorities”. It has faced further sanctions under the Biden administration, which says it is complicit in slave labour.

American citizens, including those working for foreign companies such as HSBC, whose headquarters are in London, are banned from transactions or services involving the XPCC.

“Call that bank in and ask them to explain themselves”

HSBC is the U.K.’s largest bank and the second largest bank in Europe, bought the shares on behalf of an anonymous client and earns a profit for its safekeeping.

The bank insists that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which it operates.” But, while it may comply with Hong Kong laws, the London headquartered bank is not complying with regulations in all its jurisdictions according to some British members of parliament.

Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the U.K. Conservative Party which is currently in power, called HSBC’s actions “in breach of Modern-Day Slavery rules” and is asking his government to “call that bank in and ask them to explain themselves.”

Across the pond, U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, stated that HSBC is “another example of a company turning a blind eye to genocide and slavery just to turn a profit.”

Will the U.K. government take HSBC to task? Only time will tell.

In the meanwhile, you can join more than 80,000 Freedom United community members in calling on the Chinese government to put an end to the detention and forced labor camps in the Uyghur Region. Add your name today.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

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Monica Burns
2 years ago
Reply to  Frankie

Hello, Frankie. Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, xenophobia, racism and discrimination do exist, and are visible in the systems which allow modern slavery to exist. We want the Freedom United website to be a safe place for our community to come to learn and get involved with anti-modern slavery campaigning. We have added this disclaimer to be clear about our guidelines for engaging in this space.

2 years ago

Xenophobia? Racism? Discrimination ? Do you understand those words should not exist and by saying “words we don’t tolerate” u create the very thing you are “saying” u don’t want., division! We are all humans from earth no further explanation needs to be expressed. Every other word that is to define a person does nothing more than to limit that person from being all inclusive with another and one with the universe.

2 years ago

Surprised !? Come on. And USA sanctioned them. That’s funny. Cause all the major corporate us companies not only do business with China but these exact inhuman practices are what makes the products that makes the companies millions. And google the top 10 USA banks and how much each was fined just last year alone for fraud, deception, money laundering. I’ll give u first one. Goldman and Sachs were fined 5 billion dollars just last year.

Janna Christie
Janna Christie
2 years ago

Human rights come first in all nations. People must be treated with respect

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