HONG KONG | The New York Times announced on Wednesday its decision to move from Hong Kong to Seoul its digital service after the entry into force of the draconian law on national security that was imposed on the territory by Beijing.
It is the first relocation major international media since the promulgation at the end of June of this legislation that increases the authority of China over Hong Kong.
In an email sent to staff, the leadership of the New York Times explained that this law “has resulted in many uncertainties concerning the consequences of the new rules on our journalistic activity and our mode of operation”.
“We believe that it is more prudent to have a back up plan, and begin to move our editorial team in the region”, adds the executive.
The New York Times has, for decades, its regional headquarters to Hong Kong from where he covered news in Asia and, more recently, assistance in the preparation of the digital content on a continuous basis, journal, in collaboration with the offices of the London and New York.
In an article dedicated to this relocation, the Times said that the employees working for its digital service, or a third of its workforce in Hong Kong, will move next year.
Regional Centre for the media
The title has explained to, in addition, have recently encountered difficulties in obtaining work permits” for its staff in hong kong, which is was until now “common in China, but rarely the case in the ex-colony” of the uk.
At the beginning of the year, China has expelled several journalists working for american media, including the New York Times, in the context of retaliatory measures against Washington. Some of them have been relocated to Seoul.
For decades, Hong Kong is the regional centre for the many foreign media that cover the news in Asia, are enjoying particular freedom of expression under the retrocession agreement, the sino-british 1997.
In addition to the New York Times, the international media such as AFP, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and the Financial Times have also regional centers are important to Hong Kong.
The content of the new law on the security, very vague, leaving a lot of room for interpretation and has given rise to a climate of fear through the territory where the inhabitants have the habit to express themselves freely.
One of its provisions, intimate to the authorities to “strengthen the management” of the international media.
The local government of Hong Kong, who meets the requirements of Beijing, has shown little inclination to defend the media and, in recent years, the territory is gone down in the world ranking of freedom of the press.
The authorities are currently reviewing RTHK, the audiovisual group independent from, but funded by the State, accused in particular of having insured the past year, a coverage too favorable to the protests, pro-democracy that have shaken Hong Kong. The group rejects the accusations.
Requests for clarification
Obtaining of visas for foreign journalists has begun to be the object of political pressures.
In 2018, a british journalist from the Financial Times Victor Mallet, was denied the renewal of his visa to the press after having invited the founder of a separatist party to a conference of the foreign correspondents ‘ Club (FCC), an institution in the former british colony.
A few months ago, China has expelled american journalists, and said that they would not be allowed to work in Hong Kong even if the territory is supposed to be the only master in the field of immigration policy.
At the beginning of the month, the FCC sent a letter to the head of the executive Carrie Lam, asking him to clarify the more quickly the consequences of the new law for journalists working in Hong Kong.
Last week, during a press conference, a reporter asked Ms. Lam if she could “100% guarantee” the freedom of the press.
“If the FCC or the journalists of Hong Kong Kong can guarantee me 100% that they will not infringe this national legislative text, so I can do it,” replied Mrs. Lam.