Hong Kong survey shows pro-democracy support growing

Hong Kong survey shows pro-democracy support growing

Hong Kong: A growing majority of people in Hong Kong support the pro-democracy movement’s goals after China introduced a national security law for the city, but backing for the protest movement was a smaller 44 per cent, a survey shows.

Demonstrations have been far fewer and smaller than the mass protests that rocked the Chinese-ruled city in the second half of 2019, largely because of coronavirus-related restrictions on gatherings and the impact of the sweeping new law, analysts say.

The survey taken by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, for Reuters, was the first since the law was passed in the Asian financial centre on June 30.

It found nearly 60 per cent of people were opposed to the security law, up from about 57 per cent in the institute’s previous survey in June, when few of the details were known.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s office and China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, which comes under the State Council, or cabinet, did not respond to requests for comment about the results of the survey. Ivan Choy, senior lecturer at Chinese University of Hong Kong’s department of government and public administration, said public attitudes shifted after the new security law was implemented.

“Now there are more concerns when you ask people to come out” to protest, he said, adding that police arrests have triggered “more anger in society.” Police said they had arrested 25 people, as of August 20, including protesters, activists and a media tycoon under the new law, which makes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces punishable with up to life in prison.

The Hong Kong Police Force did not respond to a request to comment on the impact of the arrests on public opinion.

The government has said the law was needed to plug holes in national security exposed by the protests and to restore stability in Hong Kong. The survey found public support for the law was slightly over 31 per cent.

Critics say the legislation further eroded the wide-ranging freedoms promised to the former British colony on its return to Chinese rule in 1997 under a one country, two systems agreement.

The latest survey asked: How much do you support or oppose the pro-democracy protest movement? The responses showed support at about 44 per cent.