By Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC <HSBA.L> investor Federated Hermes said it has questions about the bank’s support for China’s new security law for Hong Kong, the second investor in Europe’s biggest bank in recent weeks to voice concerns about the lender’s stance.
“We expect companies to support improvements in protections for citizens and not back their removal,” said Roland Bosch, lead engager for financial services at Federated Hermes’s stewardship and engagement team.
The new law could have an adverse impact on human rights, he said.
Aviva Investors, another leading HSBC shareholder, said earlier this month it was uneasy about the bank’s show of public support for the law.
China’s parliament passed the new national security legislation for Hong Kong on Tuesday, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony’s way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.
Details of the law are due out later on Tuesday, amid fears the legislation will crush the global financial hub’s freedoms and reports that the heaviest penalty under it would be life imprisonment.
Senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have criticised HSBC’s stance.
The bank’s Asia-Pacific Chief Executive Peter Wong signed a petition backing the law earlier this month, which also drew ire from human rights groups.
(Reporting by Lawrence White, Additional reporting by Iain Withers; Editing by Tom Arnold and Ed Osmond)