China asks Hong Kong consulates to submit info on local staff

China has asked consulates in Hong Kong to provide data on locally hired employees, including their home addresses, a move that gives Beijing an expanded supervision of the city. The Chinese Foreign Ministry wants the missions to give a copy of local employees’ identification cards and details such as job titles, employment beginning date, permanent residency status and visa related data, according to a letter and form sent to consulates in Hong Kong on Monday and located by Bloomberg News.

The documents tell missions to comply with the appeal by Oct 18 and submit data on fresh staff within 15 days of their first day of work. The form also indicates that the personal information provided can be given to other bureaus and departments. The Hong Kong Free Press reported earlier on the letter. Governers dealing with the matter from the Hong Kong government and China’s Foreign Ministry based in the city did not at the moment care to reply to an appeal for remark.

Other countries ask missions for same kind of data about locals they employ, and embassies on the mainland must hire Chinese nationals through a government-ridden agency. Still, the step taken by China seems to be in step with its aim on national safety in the financial hub. Beijing enforced a national safety law on Hong Kong in mid-2020 in reply to mass protests in opposition to the government.

In 2019, the United Kingdom called for the Chinese ambassador after a previous employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong said he was beaten for data about protesters while detained on the mainland. China criticised then Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and warned that unwanted involvement in its matters “will gradually cause problem to UK concerns”.