Hong Kong Basic Law

Hong Kong survey respondents give ‘one country, two systems’ a fail mark

Poll commissioned by Path of Democracy shows that international think tanks have a more optimistic view of city’s governing principle

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 11:21pm

Hongkongers have given a fail mark for the implementation of “one country, two systems”, a middle-of-the-road think tank has found as it says the figures are “a cause of concern for policymakers”.

The 1,002 local respondents gave an average score of 4.84 out of 10 on the issue, according to a Chinese University poll commissioned by Path of Democracy.

Respondents were asked to rate the implementation of “one country, two systems” in 10 areas, including freedom of speech and judicial independence.

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The survey was part of the think tank’s effort to develop the first “One Country, Two Systems Index” to track how the governing principle was being enforced 20 years after the handover to China.

The index – comprising a local survey and a freedom and democracy index based on the assessment of international think tanks – came in at 6.52 points after overseas views, standing at 8.19, were included.

Path of Democracy adopted international yardsticks including the Personal Freedom Index and the Economic Freedom Index developed by the Cato and Fraser institutes.

“It is understandable that the international assessment [of ‘one country, two systems’] is more positive than that of the local survey as Hongkongers have set a higher benchmark,” said Path of Democracy governor Sung Yun-wing, who is also an adjunct professor in Chinese University’s economics department.

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Admitting the score given by Hongkongers was “undesirable” and a cause of concern for policymakers, Sung called on different parties, including the central and local governments, to do some soul-searching to find better ways to resolve social conflicts.

Of the 10 areas, Hongkongers gave the highest rating on freedom of speech, giving it a score of 6.36 points out of 10. It was followed by judicial independence, which stood at 5.72.

Six items fell below the pass mark of 5.

Respondents had the least confidence in solving conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland through dialogue. They gave it just 4.04 points. They also gave a score of 4.4 for the question of whether the city’s internal affairs were free from mainland intervention.

The study also found that most respondents felt strongly about their dual identity as Hongkongers and Chinese, but remained heavily divided on the controversial issue of enacting national security legislation based on Article 23 of the Basic Law.

More than 16 per cent of respondents said public consultation on the issue was very unnecessary, while 15.5 per cent argued otherwise.

Executive Councillor Ronny Tong Ka-wah, the convenor of the think tank, said he saw plenty of scope for the index to rise given that a significant number of respondents had acknowledged their dual identity as Hongkongers and Chinese.

Another think tank member, Raymond Mak Ka-chun, said the index would be compiled twice a year. He said the initial findings had set the base line for future studies.

The think tank would share its findings with the city’s government, different political parties and mainland academics in a bid to encourage discussion, he added.