HONG KONG: China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said it has asked consulates in the financial center to provide the job titles, home addresses and identity details of all staff employed locally, a report to the consulates seen by Reuters said. The letter has been confirmed.
The Hong Kong office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a note to foreign consulates in Hong Kong on Monday (Sept 18), requesting them to submit relevant information on local consular staff, the ministry said in a statement to Reuters.
“This measure is in line with international customary practice. It is understood that Chinese consulates abroad also provide local staff information to the host country in accordance with the local government’s requirements.”
The letter said the consulates have until October 18 to comply with the request.
Under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, Beijing is in charge of foreign affairs related to the special administrative region. The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Beijing has stepped up control over the densely populated city of 7 million people since it imposed a sweeping national security law in 2020. China’s National Security Office has extensive investigative and surveillance powers under the law.
The letter said, “In line with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Consulate General and the EU Office … are requested to provide information on all locally employed persons who have entered into employment contracts “
The European Union office, the United States and the British consulates did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The move comes as some Hong Kong-based diplomats are closely monitoring the implementation of strict national security laws imposed after sometimes violent anti-government protests in the city in 2019.
While some Western governments have criticized the laws as curbing social and political freedoms in the city, both Chinese and Hong Kong officials have said they were vital to restoring stability.