The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry has told all consulates in Hong Kong to pass on the job titles, residential addresses and identification details of all locally-employed staff in Hong Kong.

Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry form
The form sent to consulates on September 18, 2023, by the Hong Kong government on the request of the Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry. Photo: HKFP.
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Monday’s letter, sent by the Hong Kong government on the request of the commissioner’s office and obtained by HKFP, gave each mission until October 18 to submit the details in an attached form. Additionally, missions were “requested to complete the form within 15 days of commencement of the engagement” of any new staff members.

Two people familiar with the matter – who could not be identified as to protect their jobs – confirmed the details with HKFP on Monday night.

The letter was addressed to all foreign missions – including the EU Office – but did not state a reason for the data request. The form collects locally-engaged staff members’ names, job titles, employment commencement date, residential address, permanent residency status, identity card number or passport, nationality, visa details and requires a copy of the ID documents.

The Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong SAR
Photo: The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong SAR.

Under the city’s mini-constitution, Beijing is in charge of foreign affairs relating to Hong Kong.

HKFP has reached out to the Chief Secretary for Administration’s Office’s Protocol Division, and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau for comment. HKFP also reached out to seven consulates to ask if they will comply.

Consulates under scrutiny

Twice last year, the Commissioner’s Office sought details from consulates on the properties they were using in the city – including floor plans – according to the Financial Times.

Last July, Liu Guangyuan – Beijing’s top man in Hong Kong – reportedly urged consulates to “present the vibrant and promising Hong Kong to the world in a more objective way.”

Liu Guangyuan
Liu Guangyuan. Photo: RTHK, via video screenshot.

This February, Liu warned the US consul-general not to “interfere” in local affairs, state-backed tabloid Global Times reported. And, according to Nikkei in July, Beijing warned that consular staff may not visit detainees who had dual citizenship.

In 2018, HKFP reported that China had asked consulates general in Hong Kong and Macau to rename their diplomatic offices, requesting that those based in Hong Kong remove “Macau” from their names, and vice-versa. It also asked them to make a “formal note of application” before they set up election ballot boxes for their expatriate citizens

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.