(CTN NEWS) – China has issued a directive to foreign consulates located in Hong Kong, requiring them to provide information about their local staff, including their names, residential addresses, and job descriptions, as revealed by diplomatic sources and documents disclosed by multiple media outlets on Tuesday.
These documents consist of a letter, presented in both English and Chinese, dated on Monday, originating from the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (OCMFA) in Beijing.
Additionally, two forms have been supplied to consulates for the purpose of collecting comprehensive details about their local employees.
According to the letter, consulates are expected to complete and submit the required forms to the protocol division by October 18th.
It is important to note that, in accordance with the city’s mini-constitution, Beijing holds authority over matters pertaining to foreign affairs in Hong Kong.
Over recent years, China has increasingly tightened its control over this semi-autonomous city, culminating in the implementation of a comprehensive national security law in 2020, following significant pro-democracy demonstrations.
Consulates React to Unprecedented Request for Local Staff Information in Hong Kong
Two diplomatic sources have verified the receipt of these documents by their respective consulates and informed Agence France-Presse that this marks the first instance in which the personal information of local staff members has been requested.
One of the sources stated, “We are still evaluating the document and will investigate it further.”
The Hong Kong Free Press also reported on the letter, noting that missions have been “asked to complete the form within 15 days of the commencement of the engagement” for any new staff members.
A representative from the EU office for Hong Kong and Macau commented that they are “carefully examining the matter” and refrained from providing additional remarks.
Efforts have been made to reach out to the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (OCMFA) and the Hong Kong government’s Protocol Division, responsible for consular matters and official visits to the city, for their input.
The letter mandates that all consulates in Hong Kong must “furnish information on all staff members locally engaged, encompassing both permanent residents and non-permanent residents.”
One of the forms, titled “notification of staff locally engaged,” necessitates consulates to furnish details regarding staff members’ names, positions, residential addresses, and identity document numbers.
The second form is designed for consulates to report any changes in employment status to the authorities.
Concerns and Anonymity Surround Consulate Reactions
The U.S. and British consulates in Hong Kong, along with the Office of the European Union, refrained from providing immediate comments in response to the request. China’s Foreign Ministry also remained unresponsive to inquiries regarding the letter.
A local consular staff member, speaking anonymously due to concerns of potential reprisals, disclosed that their supervisor had assured them that their personal information would not be submitted without their consent.
The staff member expressed apprehensions about the possible utilization of such details if submitted, as well as concerns about the potential impact on their families and their own immigration processes.
Notably, in the previous year, a report from the Financial Times had revealed that China’s Foreign Ministry had requested the floor plans of foreign missions and staff residences within the city.
In February, the ministry had accused U.S. Consul General Gregory May of interfering in the affairs of the city following his statement in a video address, where he expressed concerns about the erosion of Hong Kong’s freedoms.
China Issues Directive to Hong Kong Foreign Consulates – Key Points
China has issued a directive to foreign consulates located in Hong Kong, which requires them to provide information about their local staff. Here are the key details based on the information you provided:
- Directive Source: The directive originated from the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (OCMFA) in Beijing.
- Contents of Directive: Foreign consulates are required to provide information about their local staff, including their names, residential addresses, and job descriptions.
- Language: The directive was presented in both English and Chinese, indicating its importance for international and local audiences.
- Forms: Two forms have been provided to the consulates to collect comprehensive details about their local employees.
- Submission Deadline: Consulates are expected to complete and submit the required forms to the protocol division by October 18th.
- Legal Context: This directive aligns with Beijing’s authority over foreign affairs in Hong Kong, as per the city’s mini-constitution.
- Background: China has been increasing its control over Hong Kong in recent years, which culminated in the implementation of a comprehensive national security law in 2020, following significant pro-democracy demonstrations.
Please note that the directive appears to be part of China’s broader efforts to assert control over Hong Kong’s governance and foreign relations.
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