Public statements by the Big Four have distanced the firms from the protests in Hong Kong as corporates in the special autonomous region come under pressure from the regime in Beijing.

A statement from Deloitte on 16 August said: Deloitte is aware of a statement issued by a group of people claiming to represent employees of the Big Four firms in Hong Kong.  While we cannot verify the source of the statement and we respect the right of individuals to peacefully express their views, we want to clarify that this statement does not represent the views of the firm. 

The recent escalation of tension and conflict in Hong Kong has caused significant disruptions to society and has affected the livelihood of many in Hong Kong.  We do not condone any form of violent or illegal behavior and hope social order will be restored soon through mutual, peaceful dialogue and co-operation of all parties concerned.

Deloitte is committed to supporting Hong Kong, as a part of China, as the city continues to build on its success as an international financial center predicated on the 'One Country, Two Systems' concept, underpinned by the Basic Law. We are confident that Hong Kong will be able to resolve its current difficulties and we remain fully committed to providing outstanding and uninterrupted professional services to our clients.

On 5 August PWC said: PwC wants Hong Kong to be a peaceful and safe society, and to continue to prosper as a major international financial centre. While we fully respect people’s right to freedom of speech, we very much regret the recent escalation of violence and the disruption that is being caused to normal peace and order. We condemn the use of social media to spread false messages using the firm’s corporate identity, including the imitation of visual design and colour, that are designed to mislead the public.

Our top priority at all times is the safety of our people.

This was followed by a further statement from PWC on 16 August which said: In response to an advertisement in Hong Kong by a group of unnamed individuals claiming to be employees of the Big Four accounting firms, PwC emphasizes that the advertisement does not represent the firm’s position. We firmly oppose any action and statement that challenge national sovereignty. The rule of law and the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle are the foundations to maintaining stability and harmony in Hong Kong. We condemn all violent and illegal activities, and misleading statements. We urge the society of Hong Kong to work together to address the challenges ahead, and safeguard the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong.

Also on 16 August, EY issued the following: EY is aware of a public statement published in a local newspaper today by an anonymous group of people who purport to be employees of the Big Four accounting firms in Hong Kong. We cannot confirm its authenticity. EY does not share the views expressed in the statement and strongly condemns the violence and illegal acts that have taken place in recent weeks throughout the city.

Hong Kong’s long-term stability and success as an international financial centre is premised on the fundamental guiding principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the rule of law. EY calls for a swift return of Hong Kong to a peaceful community with stable law and order for the good of all people in Hong Kong.

KPMG, meanwhile, was reported to have emailed its Hong Kong staff individually on 15 August, reminding them not to engage in unlawful acts and to refrain from speaking to the media.

Among other corporates under pressure from Beijing, Cathay Pacific has seen its CEO resign and while HSBC first issued a statement which said: “The bank has always respected our employees have their own personal views on political and social matters,” this was shortly followed by an advertisement in the Chinese language Hong Kong Economic Times in which the bank said ‘we are very concerned about the recent social events and strongly condemn any violence and actions that disrupt social order’.