China asks consulates in Hong Kong to give details on local staff

8 months ago 47

HONG KONG: China's foreign ministry in Hong Kong said it has asked consulates in the financial hub to provide job titles, home addresses and identification details of all locally employed staff, confirming a letter to consulates seen by Reuters.

The Hong Kong Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a note on Monday (Sep 18) to foreign consulates in Hong Kong requesting the submission of relevant information on local employees of the consulate, the ministry said in a statement to Reuters.

"This measure is in line with international customary practice. It is understood that Chinese consulates stationed abroad also provide local employee information to the host country according to local government requirements," it said.

The letter stated that consulates must comply with the request by Oct 18.

Under Hong Kong's mini constitution, Beijing is in charge of foreign affairs relating to the special administrative region. The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Beijing has ratcheted up control over the densely packed city of 7 million people since a sweeping national security law imposed in 2020. China's national security office has extensive investigative and surveillance powers under the law.

In line with the "Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Consulates General and the Office of the European Union ... are requested to provide information on all locally engaged who have entered into employment contract," the letter said.

The EU office, the United States and British consulates did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The move comes as some Hong Kong-based diplomats have been closely monitoring the implementation of the tougher national security laws imposed after sometimes violent anti-government protests rocked the city in 2019.

While some Western governments have criticised 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.

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