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HSBC executive to exit after deploring UK’s stance on China

HSBC has been accused of contributing to the oppression of people in Hong Kong. (AP pic)

LONDON: HSBC Holdings Plc’s head of public affairs Sherard Cowper-Coles will step down after making controversial remarks about the British government’s handling of its relationship with China, Bloomberg News reported on Friday.

Cowper-Coles will leave the UK lender next month, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

HSBC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Cowper-Coles stepping down.

The former diplomat apologised last month for reportedly calling Britain “weak” for going along with US demands to curtail business dealings with China.

Cowper-Coles told a closed-door event in June that Britain would often bow to the demands of Washington and should look after its own interests, according to a Bloomberg report, citing people familiar with the matter.

Last month, HSBC said that Cowper-Coles – who also chairs the China-Britain Business Council and is a former British ambassador – had been at a private roundtable discussion and “shared his personal views”.

“I was speaking at a private event under Chatham House Rule and my personal comments don’t reflect the views of HSBC or the China-Britain Business Council. I apologise for any offence caused,” Cowper-Coles said in a statement provided by HSBC then.

HSBC was accused by two influential US and British lawmakers in June of contributing to the oppression of people in Hong Kong by thwarting their attempts to access pension funds in order to emigrate.