Hong Kong activist David Webb said that actions of the Chinese government with respect to Hong Kong in the past two years and the complicity of the city’s leadership are major reasons behind HSBC’s decision to keep their headquarters in London.

“There was the refusal of China to offer HK any sensible version of universal suffrage for electing its leader,” Webb said on his blog. “Secondly, more and more, HK’s senior figures are singing from the ‘belt and road’ hymn sheet and emphasizing integration with, rather than differentiation from, the mainland.”

An exterior view of the HSBC headquarters at the financial Central district in Hong Kong November 3, 2015. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip.

Webb said these all “undermined the promised ‘high degree of autonomy’ and produced a global shift in perception away from ‘two systems’ to ‘one country’.” He added that the current legal system in Hong Kong was only promised for 31 more years, and HSBC had to look to the long-term.

David Webb. File

HSBC announced on Monday that its headquarters would remain in the UK. The statement said that the UK “has an internationally respected regulatory framework and legal system” but Hong Kong will continue to play a “pivotal role”.

“Having our headquarters in the UK and our significant business in Asia Pacific delivers the best of both worlds to our stakeholders,” said HSBC Group Chief Executive, Stuart Gulliver.

Hermina Wong

Hermina is a Hong Kong writer and journalist. She graduated with a degree in politics from Cambridge, and is interested in international affairs, particularly those related to China, the EU and the Middle East. She also enjoys political satire.