US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has renewed his criticism of banking giant HSBC, accusing it of aiding China’s “political repression” in Hong Kong.
He said he was “dismayed” that executives at Next Media, a pro-democracy media group, were apparently unable to access their HSBC accounts.
The firm is part-owned by media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who was arrested earlier this month under Hong Kong’s controversial new security law.
HSBC has declined to comment.
The bank is based in the UK, but is also one of Hong Kong’s biggest banks.
US-China ties have deteriorated rapidly since the start of the year over Hong Kong and the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trump administration has repeatedly attacked Beijing for what it says is an attempt to end Hong Kong’s autonomy.
In his latest remarks, Mr Pompeo said HSBC was “maintaining accounts for individuals who have been sanctioned for denying freedom for Hong Kongers, while shutting accounts for those seeking freedom”.
He added: “Free nations must ensure that corporate interests are not suborned by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] to aid its political repression.
“We stand ready to help the British government and its companies resist CCP bullying and stand for freedom.”
The last time Mr Pompeo criticised HSBC was in June, when the bank gave its backing to the security law.
On that occasion, he accused China’s ruling party of “browbeating” the bank and using “coercive bully tactics”.