Some journalists also worry that Beijing will crack down on activism and speech in ways more akin to how the news media is treated on the Chinese mainland. The United States and China have been engaged in a diplomatic standoff over media organizations since February, when China expelled three reporters for The Wall Street Journal.
“Hong Kong has been a leader in supporting the rights of a free press in Asia for decades, and it is essential that it continues to do so,” a Times spokeswoman, Ari Isaacman Bevacqua, said in a statement on Tuesday.
With the full impact of China’s new security law still unclear, some outlets say they are staying put for now. Bloomberg News and CNN, both of which maintain large teams in Hong Kong, have no current plans to leave the city, according to people familiar with internal discussions.
The Times, in seeking a suitable location outside Hong Kong, considered Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. South Korea proved attractive, among other reasons, for its friendliness to foreign business, independent press, and its central role in several major Asian news stories.
In the memo on Tuesday, leaders at The Times said they would “remain deeply invested in Hong Kong — as a focus of our journalism and as a place to do business.”
But the uncertainties, they wrote, required action. “Any disruption to the operation has the potential to undermine our journalism, which is now more important than ever,” the memo said.