The number of people who mistrust the government has surged to a six-month high, while trust in Beijing has gradually improved, a University of Hong Kong survey has found. The poll found 35 per cent of respondents said they distrust the Hong Kong government, up from 20 per cent in a similar survey in October. The latest study polled 1,020 respondents in mid-December. The level of distrust was at the same level recorded when last year's July 1 march was staged. Hundreds of thousands of marchers demanded the early introduction of universal suffrage despite Beijing ruling this out in April. But people had more trust in the central government. The rising trend which started last year continued, increasing by six points to 51 per cent. Public confidence in the future of China as a whole remained stable at 84 per cent, while confidence in Hong Kong's future rose slightly to 62 per cent. Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the university's Public Opinion Programme, said although public trust had dropped in the short term, it had actually returned to the level before July 2003, the lowest point of the governance crisis. 'Whether the trends will continue or not depends very much on how the local and central governments react to people's new wave of demands,' Dr Chung said.