A subtle word choice in China’s revamped rules for overseas listings is stoking speculation that authorities may make it easier for companies to list in Hong Kong than in other offshore financial hubs.

China’s top internet regulator published final regulations Tuesday requiring all companies with more than a million users seeking "foreign” listings to undergo a rigorous data security review starting Feb. 15. That’s a notable change from a related November notice, when the same watchdog mentioned Hong Kong listings specifically as requiring scrutiny if they involved matters of national security, and also employed the term "overseas” — often used to describe Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese city.

The wording has revived hopes that companies seeking Hong Kong listings won’t automatically be required to undergo a formal data security review. It would be welcome news to investors and the Asian financial center, long the destination of choice for Chinese businesses seeking capital and a global presence.