On November 6-8, executives of major U.S. financial firms are scheduled to attend a financial summit organized by the Hong Kong government. This marks their second consecutive year participating alongside Hong Kong officials sanctioned for their human rights abuses. This summit is a calculated attempt by the authoritarian regime to leverage the prestige of international financial institutions to rehabilitate its tarnished image.
Released details confirm that executives from at least two dozen prominent American financial firms including Citigroup, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs are on the roster. They are expected to rub shoulders with sanctioned officials, most notably Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. Government under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.
Lee is scheduled to deliver a keynote address to the executives in attendance immediately after presentations from three American CEOs—Jane Fraser of Citigroup, Henry Fernandez of MSCI, and Jennifer Johnson of Franklin Templeton. As the former Security Secretary and now Chief Executive, Lee has been instrumental in orchestrating the 2019 police crackdown on democracy protesters, the enactment of the 2020 National Security Law, and the political imprisonment of pro-democracy politicians, journalists, and civil society leaders.
The Hong Kong summit is conspicuously scheduled just before the U.S. hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco. The U.S. has barred Lee from this event due to sanctions against him. The timing is no doubt intentional: it aims to undermine U.S. policy on Hong Kong’s human rights abuses by portraying American financial firms as out of sync with their government.
We emphasize the reputational risks and ethical implications for financial institutions seen as aligning with or enabling the oppressive Hong Kong regime. The ongoing crackdown has resulted in the unjust imprisonment of more than 1,600 pro-democracy advocates and media figures, while at the same time suppressing basic rights for millions of Hongkongers including freedoms of speech and assembly. All global financial institutions should avoid engagements that implicitly or explicitly support human rights abuses or undermine democratic values.
We call for immediate action:
All American financial executives should reconsider their participation, withdraw from the summit, and take a public stand against human rights violations in Hong Kong.
The U.S. Congress should advance the bipartisan Hong Kong Business Integrity and Transparency Act, which would require U.S. companies to disclose when the Hong Kong authorities demand data, content takedowns, or assistance in their political persecution of dissidents.
U.S. financial industry regulators, including the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, should closely monitor and scrutinize the engagements and interactions that occur during this summit to ensure compliance with U.S. laws, regulations, and sanctions.
23 Hong Kong organizations in the United States (listed in alphabetical order below)
1. Chicago Solidarity with Hong Kong 芝援香港
2. Cornell Society for the Promotion of East Asian Liberty (SPEAL)
3. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation
4. DC4HK (Washingtonians supporting Hong Kong)
5. Fight for Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.
6. Hong Kong Affairs Association of Berkeley (HKAAB)
7. Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC)
8. Hong Kong Forum, Los Angeles
9. Hong Kong Liberty Silver Hair
10. Hong Kong Professional Network
11. Hong Kongers in San Diego
12. HongKongers in San Francisco Bay Area
13. Hong Kong Social Action Movements in Boston
14. Lamp of Liberty
15. Lion Rock Cafe
16. New Yorkers Supporting Hong Kong (NY4HK)
17. Northern California Hong Kong Club
18. Penn State Students For Hong Kong
20. Students For Hong Kong (Students4HK)
21. TX4HK (Texans Supporting Hong Kong)
22. US HongKongers Club
23. We The Hongkongers