Hong Kong (AP) – The United States consul general no longer needs to seek Chinese approval before meeting with officials in the semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong, after a rule in place amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing was eased.
Under the new requirement, which began in November, Beijing must be notified in advance, replacing a previous arrangement that required a top diplomat to seek permission from China’s foreign affairs office in the city before holding such meetings, the US consulate in Hong Kong told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The relaxation of the rules would make it easier for the consul general to exchange directly with officials in Hong Kong as part of his normal diplomatic practice. The previous rule was introduced in 2020 during heightened tensions between the US and China.
“As required by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China (MFA), the Consul General is currently notifying the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong of meetings with local government officials and government educational institutions five days in advance,” the consulate email said. .
Asked about the rule change, Hong Kong leader John Lee said the Hong Kong government would welcome any exchange to promote business, cultural ties and works that can help promote the city.
“Hong Kong government officials, of course, will also be in touch with different people, including officials from different consulates, to improve exchanges,” Li said, and the government will act in accordance with the Vienna Convention.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise that the former British colony could retain its political, social and financial institutions for 50 years.
It has become a talking point between the US and China in recent years as critics say the pledge is becoming increasingly fragile, especially after Beijing imposed the 2020 National Security Act, which has jailed or silenced many dissidents.