HSBC Exec Apologizes For Calling UK "Weak"
A top executive at HSBC has apologized after reportedly calling the UK government “weak” for caving to US pressure over doing business with China in another sign of the political tightrope the British bank has to walk, Michelle Toh reported for CNN.
Photo Insert: Sherard Cowper-Coles, HSBC’s head of public affairs, inadvertently caused a firestorm Monday when Bloomberg reported his criticism of both the UK and the US over their approaches to China.
Sherard Cowper-Coles, HSBC’s head of public affairs, inadvertently caused a firestorm Monday when Bloomberg reported his criticism of both the UK and the US over their approaches to China, which, along with Hong Kong, provides HSBC with 40% of its profits.
Citing sources, Bloomberg said Cowper-Coles told participants of a private event in June that he felt Washington had pressured London into pulling back on business with China.
He made the comment under the Chatham House rule that allows quotes but the speaker cannot be identified.
He also said the UK government would often concur with US demands, calling it “weak,” the publication reported. HSBC makes a large proportion of its profit in China and Hong Kong but is headquartered and listed in London, leaving it particularly vulnerable to geopolitical tension between Beijing and the West.
Cowper-Coles, a former diplomat who has served as UK ambassador to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan, among other postings, was also cited as saying Britain shouldn’t blindly follow the US, but take care of its own interests.