Most Hongkongers believe Beijing should reverse its stance on the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, a University of Hong Kong annual poll found ahead of the 23rd anniversary next week of the bloody incident.
More than 60 per cent of Hongkongers believe Beijing's stance on the incident should be reversed, 3 percentage points up from last year, according to the poll which has been conducted annually for 20 years.
The HKU public opinion programme poll, which interviewed 1,003 people last month, also found that for the first time in 20 years more Hongkongers think that their role in prompting democratic development on the mainland is more important than initiating any economic development.
When asked whether there should be a change in the official stance on the incident, 61 per cent of respondents in the phone survey said yes, compared with 58 per cent last year.
In April 1989, a wave of student-led mass gatherings and protests erupted following the death of deposed Communist Party secretary general Hu Yaobang . After martial law was declared on May 20, the central government ordered a military crackdown on democracy protests occurring in and around Tiananmen Square.
This led to the shooting of students and civilians, with the total number of deaths not known. Estimates range from the hundreds to the thousands.
Nearly 70 per cent said the Beijing government did the wrong thing in the crackdown, and 55 per cent said the students were right. The figures were an increase of 4 and 6 percentage points respectively.
Further analyses showed that the younger the respondent, the more likely he or she believed the Beijing government did the wrong thing in the incident.
Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, the programme's director, said this reflected the higher demand for democracy among the younger generation.
'From a broad perspective, mainstream opinion continues to maintain that the central government was wrong in 1989, people still support the Beijing students, demand a reversion of the official stance on the June Fourth [incident], and oppose disbanding the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China,' he said.
The percentage who said Hongkongers should push democratic development on the mainland, rather than economic progress