Hong Kong National Security Laws Shouldn't Affect Banks' Operations, Says Regulator

Beijing argues that the laws are vital to restoring stability after more than a year of protests, while banks are concerned about its impact

Hong Kong's capital markets regulator sought on Sunday, July 19 to reassure global banks in the city that China's newly imposed national security law for the financial hub would not pose threat to their operations.

The "free-flow" of information is one of the "fundamental attributes" that have made Hong Kong an international financial center, and this is not expected to change under the new laws, said Securities and Futures Commission chief executive Ashley Alder.

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Ads of National Security Law in Kong Kong Twitter/ @chunyinnnn

The regulator "would like to clarify that it is not aware of any aspect of the (new laws) which would affect or alter the existing ways in which firms and listed companies originate, access, disseminate and transmit financial market and related business information under the regulatory regime it administers," Alder said in a statement.

The Impact of Security Law

The city's major investment banks have been gauging the impact of the laws on their operations, including the independence of analysts' research.

Another concern, particularly for commercial banks, is the U.S government's planned retaliatory sanctions on financial institutions that do business with those found to have participated in any crackdown on the city.

Beijing argues that the laws, which punish what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, are vital to restoring stability after more than a year of protests.

Britain, Hong Kong's former colonial ruler, and the United States have strongly opposed Beijing's legislation, expressing concern over the erosion of the autonomy Hong Kong has been granted by China since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Senior British and U.S. politicians criticized HSBC and Standard Chartered banks, global firms with a strong presence and history in Hong Kong, for backing the laws shortly after they were enacted on July 1.

The Hong Kong regular has held discussions with "globally active financial institutions," centering on their concerns about "the potential ambit and effect" of the laws on their businesses in the city, Alder said.

Alder said Hong Kong's rules on short-selling, hedging strategies, exchange-traded and over the counter derivatives markets would not be altered by the security laws.

(With inputs from agency)