Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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An Open Letter to Goldman Sachs on the Hong Kong National Security Law

By Annie McDonnell , in China Hong Kong Open Letters , at June 29, 2020

Dear Mr. Siewert,

As stated in the first paragraph of Goldman Sachs’ official statement on human rights: “As a global financial institution, Goldman Sachs recognizes and takes seriously its responsibility to help protect, preserve and promote human rights around the world. Examples of such rights are articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. While national governments bear the primary responsibility for ensuring human rights, we believe that the private sector can and should play a role in championing these fundamental rights.”

As you may be aware, China recently proposed the new National Security Act for Hong Kong, a legislation that effectively criminalizes acts that undermine the authority of the Chinese central government. This would essentially silence the voices of protesters and threaten their right to freedom of speech. As stated in Article 9 of the United Nations Declarations of Human Rights, a document repeatedly quoted in Goldman Sachs’ official statement on human rights: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” This document was referenced as model guidelines to which Goldman Sachs would hold itself and its trading environment accountable; specifically, Article 9 conflicts with the current proposed National Security Act for Hong Kong since the Chinese government could choose to arrest, detain, or act violently towards protesters. Therefore, Goldman Sachs should consider whether it is willing to uphold these aforementioned promises and publicly stand against the current political climate of Hong Kong/China, as Goldman Sachs has two offices in Hong Kong and six in mainland China.

Goldman Sachs has a reputation for supporting human rights on a global scale, including the Black Lives Matter movement. However, even with your policies on these issues, you have yet to make statements on behalf of Hong Kong or even acknowledge the proposed legislation. Through your support of the Black Lives Matter Movement, you are also supporting the protesters that are fighting for their rights. You cannot pick and choose which of these social justice issues to support. The protesters in Hong Kong are simply doing the same, using their voices to fight for their rights. If you do not advocate for the Hong Kong protesters, how can Goldman Sachs possibly attempt to uphold their reputation of supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and human rights in general?

Considering Goldman Sachs’ stance in the global financial community, you have a duty to make a statement denouncing the proposed National Security Law in Hong Kong as it directly contradicts Goldman Sachs’ previous policies and statements in favor of human rights and freedoms. Most other corporations have remained silent; however, Goldman Sachs should fulfill its obligation to human rights, thereby influencing others to do the same. As you have stated, the private sector can and should play a role in championing fundamental rights, and Goldman Sachs has the power to do so as a multi-billion dollar company. We encourage you to publish a press release and statement supporting Hong Kong protesters, as they are merely upholding Goldman Sachs’ shared values, and denounce China’s National Security Law.

Help us protect Hong Kong. Help us protect democracy and human rights.

This letter will be posted publicly as part of our advocacy journalism, along with any response from your office.

Hong Kong Team