British banking giants HSBC and Standard Chartered have publicly backed China's controversial national security law proposal for Hong Kong, which critics fear will be used to stamp out dissents in the city.
HSBC claimed that they 'respect and support laws' while London-based Standard Chartered also lined up to support the legislation, saying they hoped details of its provisions would 'enable Hong Kong to maintain economic and social stability'.
Beijing's rubber-stamp parliament approved the law during its annual meetings last week, sparking widespread outrage and criticisms from countries around the world.
British banking giants HSBC and Standard Chartered have publicly backed China's contentious security law proposal for Hong Kong, which critics fear will be used to stamp out dissent in the city. The file picture shows people walking past a HSBC branch in Hong Kong
Beijing announced plans last month to bypass Hong Kong's legislature and impose the law, following seven straight months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests last year. The picture shows Chinese President Xi reaching to vote for the national security law in May
Standard Chartered public voices their support for China's national security law for Hong Kong. The file picture shows the entrance to Standard Chartered Bank in the city of London
China says the law is needed to tackle 'terrorism' and 'separatism' in the Asian financial hub it now regards as a direct national security threat.
Opponents fear it will be used to stifle local opposition to Communist Party rule, despite the promise of limited freedoms and autonomy for 50 years after the city's 1997 handover from Britain.
But several conglomerates with mainland business interests have in recent days issued statements supporting the bill, including the Asia-focused banking giants.
The news came after the city's pro-Beijing former leader Leung Chun-ying publicly criticised the British bank for not publicly supporting the law while profiting from its Chinese business interests.
Standard Chartered told MailOnline today: 'We believe the national security law can help maintain the long term economic and social stability of Hong Kong. The "one country, two systems" principle is core to the future success of Hong Kong and has always been the bedrock of the business community's confidence.
'We hope greater clarity on the final legislative provisions will enable Hong Kong to maintain economic and social stability. We remain positive that Hong Kong will continue playing a key role as an international financial hub and Standard Chartered is committed to contributing to its continued success.'
Anti-government demonstrators scuffle with riot police during a lunch time protest as a second reading of a controversial national anthem law takes place in Hong Kong on May 27
Beijing's rubber-stamp parliament approved the law during its annual meetings 'Two Sessions' in late May, sparking widespread outrage and criticisms from countries around the world
Various media reports claimed that HSBC voiced its support for the controversial law in a post on Chinese social media platform WeChat on Wednesday.
The banking giant reportedly said: 'HSBC reiterates that we respect and support laws that will stabilise Hong Kong's social order and revitalise the economy.'
The statement accompanied a picture of the bank's top Asia executive, Peter Wong, signing a petition in support of the law.
But the social media post has appeared to be removed from the company's WeChat page as of today.
MailOnline has contacted HSBC for comment.
HSBC, or the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, was founded in 1865 in Hong Kong. It moved its headquarters to Britain in 1993 after buying Midland Bank. The majority of its clientele remains in the Far East.
Pro-democracy supporters gather at a shopping mall during a Lunch With You rally on June 1
Protesters gesture with five fingers, signifying the ‘Five demands - not one less‘ in a shopping mall during a protest against China's national security legislation for the city, in Hong Kong
British multinational Jardine Matheson took out a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper on Wednesday to pledge its support for the bill.
The firms' support of the law is at odds with the British government, which says the bill breached the agreement signed with China to govern the territory after the 1997 handover.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said Tuesday he had spoken to allies including the United States and Australia about potentially opening their doors to Hong Kongers seeking to leave the city if the law is passed.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab (pictured on June 2) said Tuesday he had spoken to allies including the United States and Australia about potentially opening their doors to Hong Kongers seeking to leave the city if the law is passed
A protester holds a British National (Overseas) passport in a shopping mall during a protest against China's national security legislation for the city, in Hong Kong on May 29