The announcement came after US President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that purports to “hold China accountable for its repressive actions”, allowing sanctions against Chinese officials related to the implementation of the new Hong Kong national security law.
The New York Times announced on Tuesday that it will move part of its office based in Hong Kong to Seoul, claiming that the recently imposed Hong Kong national security law “has unsettled news organizations and created uncertainty about the city’s prospects as a hub for journalism in Asia”.
While the national security law was enacted last month, the statement from NYT came after Trump signed new legislation to “hold China accountable for its repressive actions”. The newly-signed executive law marks the end of US preferential treatment for Hong Kong.
“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. We feel it is prudent to make contingency plans and begin to diversify our editing staff around the region”, NYT officials who oversee the paper’s international coverage and operations wrote in a Tuesday memo to staff.
As a “digital team of journalists” that ensures 24/7 coverage when their colleagues from New York and London are out announce their move to Seoul, some correspondents will remain in the city to provide “coverage of the city’s transformation”.
“We have every intention of maintaining and even increasing our coverage of the city’s transformation, as well as using it as a window on China,” the memo said.
Along with correspondents, staffers from print production and marketing teams are expected to remain in Hong Kong.
Trump’s New Legislation Concerning China
On Tuesday, Trump signed an executive order and a bill suspending US preferential treatment towards Hong Kong and envisaging sanctions over those who are seen by Washington as accountable for “repressive actions” against residents of the city, including officials responsible for imposing the new national security law.
“It shall be the policy of the United States to suspend or eliminate different and preferential treatment for Hong Kong to the extent permitted by law and in the national security, foreign policy, and economic interest of the United States”, the text of the new legislation reads.
The Trump adminsitration condemned the Hong Kong national security law for “potentially making it harder for journalists, human rights organizations, and other outside groups to hold the PRC accountable for its treatment of the people of Hong Kong”.
China stressed that the law, enacted in June, was imposed to combat what Beijing characterized as secession and subversion in the city, without violating the liberties of residents. Chinese party officials have also repeatedly insisted that the new legislation is the country’s internal affair and is not subject to foreign interference.