An increasing number of people are dissatisfied with China's handling of its relationship with Hong Kong, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted in July as part of the Hong Kong Transition Project at Baptist University, found 58 per cent of the 928 respondents were not happy with what China had done for Hong Kong. Only 27 per cent approved. The corresponding figures in the previous poll held in February were 49 per cent unhappy and 31 per cent approved. A similar question on the overall performance of the Chinese Government found 56 per cent dissatisfied and 28 per cent satisfied. The increase of the level of dissatisfaction was the first since September 1995. And pollsters said the hardline policies of Beijing were to blame. Project director Michael DeGolyer said China's on-and-off hardline policy on Hong Kong had failed to win people's hearts. 'The way the Preparatory Committee has been acting apparently is beginning to convince people that the SAR government is going to be much less open,' said Mr DeGolyer. However, he expected an improvement in the public's ratings of Beijing's performance after a spate of conciliatory gestures from Chinese officials towards the Democrats in August. Mr DeGolyer said the respondents remained 'cautiously optimistic' about the post-handover future. He said those who preferred joining China constituted about 48 per cent of the interviewees. Others said they wanted Hong Kong to be an independent state or stay as a British territory. The other important statistics, he said, was that only 24 per cent indicated that they preferred reunification and were determined to stay. 'This is a thin reed to make a good and strong society,' he said. Mr DeGolyer further pointed out there were still a lot of other concerns local people raised, including personal freedom and the problem of corruption after the handover. He hoped the Chinese Government would acknowledge this reality and take cautious steps in reuniting with the territory. 'The more Chinese officials want to control Hong Kong, the more Hong Kong people may choose the other option, which is to leave the territory,' he said. The survey also found 44 per cent of the respondents said they would leave or seek means to leave if changes were unsuitable after the handover, representing an increase of four percentage points since February.