MOST young people in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing perceive law as a means to maintain social order rather than uphold justice, a study revealed. Called Law and Ethics, the study was jointly conducted by the Institute of Sociology of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, the Guangzhou-Hongkong-Macau Youth Research Institute, Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups. More than 1,500 young people aged between 15 and 29 were surveyed in the three cities in July. About 60 per cent of respondents in Hong Kong considered maintenance of social order the major function of law. The view was echoed by 48 per cent respondents in Guangzhou and 26 per cent in Beijing. About 10 per cent Hong Kong youths regarded upholding of justice as its main purpose, with 32 per cent in Guangzhou and 20 per cent in Beijing sharing the same view. About 20, 13 and 25 per cent in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing respectively said the law facilitated the rule of government. While over 50 per cent of the Hong Kong respondents believed they could get a fair trial in court, their counterparts were not so optimistic. Only about 42 and 36 per cent in Guangzhou and Beijing respectively were positive about the fair trial while 40 and 43 per cent were uncertain. The survey also revealed that young people did not have much confidence in lawyers or equality before the law. Less than one-third in each group had positive opinion about lawyers and thought the lawyers were 'impartial'. But about 46, 48 and 59 per cent of the Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Beijing respondents felt not everyone was equal before the law. When asked if they would obey a law which they thought was wrong, more than 50 per cent of the Hong Kong respondents said yes. Most of these respondents considered it as their 'civic responsibility'. However, more than 64 per cent of the Beijing respondents said they would not obey such a law. The view was shared by some 44 per cent youths in Hong Kong and 58 per cent in Guangzhou. Rosanna Wong Yick-ming, executive director of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, said the findings showed that young people looked at law and order differently and had different value systems. She said legal education should be promoted in schools to enhance young people's knowledge about law and boost their awareness.