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New York Times will move its digital news operation out of Hong Kong

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  • The New York Times announced on Tuesday that it was moving its digital news operation out of Hong Kong and into Seoul, South Korea, in response to Hong Kong’s sweeping national security law. 
  • “China’s sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean to our operation and our journalism,” Times editors and executives wrote in a memo to staff on Tuesday. “We feel it is prudent to make contingency plans and begin to diversify our editing staff around the region.”
  • The Times joins a growing list of multinational companies that have reevaluated their presence in the city in response to the new law. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The New York Times announced on Tuesday that it was moving its digital news operation out of Hong Kong and into Seoul, South Korea, in response to Hong Kong’s sweeping national security law. 

Last month, China unilaterally passed a new national security law for Hong Kong, which bans secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country, in the name of China’s national security. The maximum penalty for each crime is life in prison, with less than three years in prison suggested for minor offenses. 

The language of the legislation is broad and asserts that its laws will apply to both people and companies, inside and outside of the city. 

The law has already been used to crack down on pro-democracy activism and reinforce communist party power over the semi-autonomous territory. 

On Tuesday, The Times announced its digital news departure from Hong Kong in response to the troubling legislation. 

“China’s sweeping new national security law in Hong Kong has created a lot of uncertainty about what the new rules will mean to our operation and our journalism,” Times editors and executives wrote in a memo to staff on Tuesday. “We feel it is prudent to make contingency plans and begin to diversify our editing staff around the region.”

The Times media correspondent Michael Grynbaum noted that some of its employees in Hong Kong “faced challenges securing work permits” that it said were “rarely an issue” in the city in the past. 

“With the city facing a new era under tightened Chinese rule, Times editors determined they needed an additional base of operations in the region,” Grynbaum wrote of the move to South Korea. 

Grynbaum said that The Times’ digital presence in Hong Kong served as a “base for reporters and editors covering Asia,” as well as an integral part of its 24-hour news coverage. He added that The Times would be moving its digital team of journalists, which equals to about a third of The Times’ Hong Kong staff, to Seoul over the next year, but would be keeping some correspondents in the city to cover the changing political landscape of the region. 

The Times joins a growing list of multinational companies that have reevaluated their presence in the city in response to the new law. 

Several major global tech companies have already spoken out against the bill and said they would stop cooperating with Hong Kong requests for data processing. Popular short-form video platform TikTok said it would be leaving the Hong Kong market entirely.

The city’s status as a financial hub may also be in jeopardy. Hong Kong’s stocks took a major hit after the bill was first announced in May; many American executives in Hong Kong have recently said they would consider moving capital or business operations out of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s economy, once considered the freest in the world by the Index of Economic Freedom of The Heritage Foundation for over two decades, has since been downgraded to second place, spurred by large-scale protests in 2019 that led to investment uncertainty. 

“The ongoing political and social turmoil has begun to erode its reputation as one of the best locations from which to do business, dampening investment inflows,” the Heritage Foundation wrote in its 2020 index.

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