HONG Kong people fear that their freedom will be eroded in the run-up to 1997, according to a survey. While more than 95 per cent of the 587 people polled perceived Hong Kong as a free society, nearly half doubted the credibility of local media reports and commentaries on China. In contrast, they had confidence in the credibility of coverage about Hong Kong, Taiwan and Britain. Almost 79 per cent said they believed what the media said about Hong Kong, and 58 per cent what they read about Taiwan and Britain. Only 44 per cent believed reports on China, and 30 per cent said they disbelieved what they read. The survey was conducted from September 21 to 28 by the Baptist College's Journalism Department, the City Polytechnic's Humanities and Social Science Faculty, Radio Television Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Polling and Business Research Company. When asked what they saw as important, well over 80 per cent nominated freedom and democracy; 67 per cent rated national dignity; and 70 per cent said the future of the nation. Executive researcher Citi Hung said the findings reflected that Hong Kong people considered the media as either being biased against China or exercising self-censorship. At the moment, as shown by the findings, most Hong Kong people (about 76 per cent) considered that the freedom enjoyed by the territory was just right, with 12 per cent saying it was too little and about nine per cent saying it was too much. But 67 per cent said they would not openly express their true views on social and political issues to strangers while 29 per cent said they would. An overwhelming majority, up to 79 per cent, maintained that Hong Kong people definitely needed to try their best to boost the freedom enjoyed by the territory, and 58 per cent said they would participate in such efforts if necessary. Fifty-seven per cent expected there would be less freedom after 1997. Ten per cent expected no change. The pessimism in press freedom was greater, with about 70 per cent saying there would be less after 1997.