China orders foreign consulates in Hong Kong to hand over staff personal details

China has given foreign consulates in Hong Kong a month to submit the names, home addresses and job descriptions of their local staff, according to diplomatic sources and documents seen by several media outlets on Tuesday.

The documents include a letter in English and Chinese bearing Monday’s date from Beijing’s Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (OCMFA), as well as two forms for consulates to fill in with their local staff details.

The letter gave consulates until 18 October to “return the completed forms to the protocol division”.

Under the city’s mini-constitution, Beijing is in charge of foreign affairs relating to Hong Kong. China has ratcheted up control of the semi-autonomous city in recent years and imposed a sweeping national security law in 2020 in the aftermath of huge pro-democracy protests.

Two diplomatic sources confirmed their consulates had received the documents and told Agence France-Presse that it was the first time local staff members’ personal details had been requested. “We are still assessing the document and will look into it,” one source said.

Hong Kong Free Press also reported on the letter, saying missions were “requested to complete the form within 15 days of commencement of the engagement” of any new staff members.

A representative for the EU office for Hong Kong and Macau said they were “looking carefully into the matter” and declined further comment.

The OCMFA and the Hong Kong government’s Protocol Division, which handles consular affairs and official visits to the city, have been contacted for comment.

The letter asks all consulates in Hong Kong to “provide information on all staff locally engaged … [including] both permanent residents … and non-permanent residents”.

One form, titled “notification of staff locally engaged”, requires consulates to provide information on staffers’ names, positions, residential addresses and identity document numbers.

The other form asks consulates to notify the authorities of any termination of employment status.

The Guardian

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