Editor’s note for Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A note from today's editor of the SupChina Access newsletter.

Huawei is considering legal action against HSBC “for allegedly presenting ‘misleading evidence’ that resulted in the arrest of its chief financial officer, Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟 in Canada,” according to the South China Morning Post.

This news comes while various Chinese state media are renewing earlier allegations that the bank was “an accomplice of a U.S. political scheme” against Meng and Huawei (see CCTV, People’s Daily). HSBC has denied the allegations.

HSBC was also called out in June by Chinese state media for not supporting the Hong Kong national security law. The bank soon complied by issuing various messages in support of the law, as did Standard Chartered and conglomerate Jardine Matheson, which also have a lot of business in Hong Kong.

My takeaway: Companies in Hong Kong that offend the Chinese government are in for a very rough ride. So is everyone else in the city: See Freedom of expression is dead in Hong Kong (July 2020), Press freedom dies in Hong Kong (October 2018), and today’s top story below.

Chengdu context:

Several readers reached out to say that our story in yesterday’s newsletter titled Locals cheer as U.S. consulate in Chengdu closes, after Houston needs some filling out. Patrick Dowdey says the reaction to the consulate’s closing that he has been getting “is pretty different” from our report. He notes people posting on social media a 1944 U.S. propaganda newsreel about how great China was and what a great ally, and lots of posts about the consul and his wife, his great Chinese, and his tour of Tibet.  

Another reader pointed out that we do not know how many of the people cheering the closure of the consulate online and in the streets of Chengdu were organized by the Party.

Our word of the day is academic freedom (学术自由 xuéshù zìyóu).

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief