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.