Hongkongers are losing their confidence in the central government. A survey has found that their mistrust is at its highest point since May 1997.
The poll was conducted this month by the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme. Results showed 37 per cent of 1,003 respondents distrust Beijing.
'The rein on human rights has tightened since the end of the [Beijing] Olympics,' said Dixon Sing Ming, a political scientist at the University of Science and Technology. Also, 'the issue of [the treatment of dissident] Liu Xiaobo , echoed by other cases, has created intense disappointment and worry among Hong Kong people', he added.
Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the public opinion programme, said the results were 'probably due to the incidents of [disgraced party boss] Bo Xilai , [blind activist] Chen Guangcheng and [the recent suspicious death of Tiananmen activist] Li Wangyang '.
'The results show Hong Kong people have an impression that the Communist Party is intolerant of dissent and is willing to resort to high-handed repression [to silence its critics],' Sing said.
Students, too, seem concerned that anyone who speaks out against the central government have no protection from punishment.
Louise Ho Lok-yee, 19, says she cannot trust a government which does not guarantee basic human rights. 'I am disappointed that Beijing continues to deny the dark side of its history,' the Hotung Secondary School student said, referring to the June 4 crackdown, 'and that freedom of speech is still being suppressed and dissidents locked up'.
St Paul's Convent School student Candace Kwan, 18, thinks the law has too many grey areas, making it easy to get on the wrong side of officials.