Hong Kong blocks overseas citizens from accessing billion-dollar pension fund

Hong Kong blocks overseas citizens from accessing billion-dollar pension fund

Citizens who have left Hong Kong through a UK government scheme to grant visas to former British colony citizens have now left around £2.2 billion (R$15 billion) inaccessible. Although they are entitled to a share of the jackpot, these people are denied access by the Chinese government, which has controlled the region since 1997.

The sums, which form part of a compulsory pension fund for Hong Kong citizens, are also held by the Bank of England. HSBC. This information is a Report Published by the NGO on Monday (10). Hong Kong Watch.

According to the report, anyone who leaves Hong Kong permanently is generally entitled to withdraw money from the fund. However, this right is denied to those granted British passports who choose to live in the United Kingdom or Canada under China's order.

In response to the British government's opening of the BNO visa regime in January 2021, a unilateral statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry ordered the blockade.

Hong Kong blocks overseas citizens from accessing billion-dollar pension fund
Sterling banknotes: Hong Kong withholds money from its citizens (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The NGO says the embargo is a “retaliatory measure” imposed by the decree, without any laws related to mandatory pension funds being changed to prohibit access to the money.

“The Chinese government's retaliatory move to stop recognizing British national passports is intended to financially punish those who leave the territory and is a serious breach of its obligations,” said Sam Goodman. Hong Kong Watch.

And according to Goodman, the move is “blatant asset confiscation,” a “punitive measure aimed at anyone who has left Hong Kong under the visa regime.” The central aim, he says, is to make clear to anyone thinking of doing the same that in order to do so, they will have to give up their life's hard-earned money.

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oh HSBC It was cited in the report as holding 660 million pounds (R$4.5 billion) and responsible for about 30% of the mandatory pension fund. Requests from other banking institutions or individuals for cash advances are rejected by the bank, the NGO said.

“Oh HSBC “has not fulfilled his responsibilities as a trustee,” Goodman said. “It must explain to its customers why it is denying access to hard-earned savings, and the UK government must ask why a London-based bank is doing the bidding of an authoritarian government without endorsing a valid government-issued document.”

Why is this important?

After the transfer from British to Chinese rule in 1997, Hong Kong began to operate under a separate autonomous system from the rest of China. However, despite initial promises that individual liberties would be respected, subjugation to Beijing has always been too strong, leading to mass protests in 2019.

Beijing's response to the protests came with authoritarianism, represented by the National Security Act, which gave the Hong Kong government the power to silence dissent and jail critics. The old text was used until March this year, when a new, more stringent law was approved.

Critics of local government say rights of expression and association have been increasingly diminished, and repression of opposition to the law has increased. Hong Kong officials reinforce the view that legal regulations are necessary to protect the territory's stability.

The UK says it is in breach of an agreement made when it handed over territory to China. Because there was a promise that individual liberties, including democratic elections, would be protected for at least 50 years. Half time had passed and Beijing was not up to its end of the bargain. Quite the opposite.

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In recent years, calls for democracy have been muted, freedom of expression has ended, and this is expected to continue “for a long time”. In the words of President Xi Jinping, “any interference must be removed.”

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About the Author: Morton Obrien

"Reader. Infuriatingly humble travel enthusiast. Extreme food scholar. Writer. Communicator."

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