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National security laws shouldn't harm banks' operations: HK regulator

Hong Kong

HONG Kong's capital markets regulator sought on Sunday to reassure global banks in the city that China's new national security laws for the financial hub would not harm their operations.

The "free flow" of information is one of the "fundamental attributes" that have made Hong Kong an international financial centre, and this is not expected to change under the new laws, said Securities and Futures Commission chief executive Ashley Alder.

The regulator "would like to clarify that it is not aware of any aspect of the (new laws) which would affect or alter the existing ways in which firms and listed companies originate, access, disseminate and transmit financial market and related business information under the regulatory regime it administers", Mr Alder said in a statement.

The city's major investment banks have been gauging the impact of the laws on their operations, including the independence of analysts' research.

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Another concern, particularly for commercial banks, is the US government's planned retaliatory sanctions on financial institutions that do business with those found to have participated in any crackdown on the city.

Beijing argues that the laws, which punish what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, are vital to restoring stability after more than a year of protests.

Britain, Hong Kong's former colonial ruler, and the United States have strongly opposed Beijing's legislation, expressing concern over the erosion of the autonomy that Hong Kong has been granted by China since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Senior British and US politicians criticised HSBC and Standard Chartered banks, global firms with a strong presence and history in Hong Kong, for backing the laws shortly after they were enacted on July 1.

The Hong Kong regular has held discussions with "globally active financial institutions", centring on their concerns about "the potential ambit and effect" of the laws on their businesses in the city, Mr Alder said.

He said Hong Kong's rules on short-selling, hedging strategies, exchange traded and over the counter derivative markets would not be altered by the security laws. REUTERS

READ MORE: Hong Kong tightens coronavirus restrictions as new cases hit record high

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