Poll Says Hong Kongers Would Prefer British Rule

2013-03-14
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Danny Chan, founder of a 'We're Hong Kongese, not Chinese' Facebook group, poses with a colonial-era flag in Hong Kong, Jan. 31, 2013.
AFP

An informal online poll by a Hong Kong newspaper inspired by a recent referendum in the Falkland Islands shows that 92 percent of readers who voted think Hong Kongers would prefer a return to British rule.

The poll on the English-language South China Morning Post's website was posted after residents of the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, voted 99.8 percent to remain under the United Kingdom rather than be handed over to Argentina.

The poll, titled "Would Hong Kongers vote to return to a British overseas territory, given the option?" showed that, measured at 7:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday, 3,966 readers had voted "yes," while 373 voted "no."

The newspaper said in a blog post that the poll was unscientific and "just for fun," and that the question was carefully worded to avoid the impression that responses meant votes from the people of Hong Kong. There was no way to determine whether those who responded were Hong Kong citizens.

Hong Kong legislator and political activist Leung Kwok-hung, known by his nickname "Long Hair," said that while the poll wasn't a scientific survey, it gave a snapshot of public sentiment towards Beijing in the years since the 1997 handover to Chinese rule.

"Hong Kong people feel that [their own] government is doing a worse job than it was during British rule," Leung said.

"If you were to ask them whether they were better off before the handover, the answer would probably be that things were a bit better."

'Interference' from CCP

Leung said people in Hong Kong tended to see 1997 as a dividing line.

"The interference from the Chinese Communist Party has frightened people in Hong Kong," he said. "That interference is getting more and more obvious, and more and more serious."

One Facebook user commented on the poll that the British had never told Hong Kong people they should be "patriotic" or that they should support the government.

"The government didn't interfere with the media; it respected Hong Kong's local culture, so people naturally gave their allegiance to the British," the user wrote.

The user said the label "Chinese" had been thrust upon Hong Kongers following the handover.

Growing mood of opposition

One commenter said: "Sixteen years after the handover, pro-British feeling is still pretty strong," while another said, "This result should worry anyone who loves China and loves Hong Kong."

Media commentator Poon Siu-to said that, even without the poll, it was clear that Hong Kong people felt the city had gone downhill since the handover.

"There is a growing mood of protest against and opposition to China, which has to do with the huge pressure and interference Beijing imposes on Hong Kong," Poon said.

He said recent disputes between Hong Kongers and their compatriots across the internal border such as the buying up of infant formula milk by mainland traders had exacerbated the problem.

Poon said Hong Kong's own government was partly to blame. "[They] have put too much emphasis on one country, and not enough emphasis on two systems," Poon said, referring to the formula under which Beijing promised to take over Hong Kong.

He said the government had paid more attention to public opinion and traditional freedoms under British rule and that the gap between rich and poor had been narrower.

"These things have had a huge influence on people's views," he said.

Hong Kong's leadership

The poll comes shortly after comments from China's new leadership at the National People's Congress (NPC) session, calling on Hong Kong to be patriotic and to put their trust in Beijing.

Chinese officials have also hinted that they are unlikely to approve of full and direct elections to the Legislative Council and for the territory's chief executive by 2020, as permitted in the mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

Anxiety over the city's political future sparked an "Occupy Central" movement in the downtown business district last year, with participants calling for universal suffrage by the next election.

On Jan. 1 of this year, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong to demand the resignation of embattled chief executive Leung Chun-ying and universal elections for his replacement.

Leung was narrowly selected for the chief executive job this year by a pro-Beijing committee.

Under the terms of its 1997 handover to China, Hong Kong was guaranteed the continuation of existing freedoms of expression and association for 50 years.

But journalists and political analysts say that the ruling Chinese Communist Party has redoubled its ideological work efforts in the territory following mass demonstrations on July 1, 2003 against proposed anti-subversion legislation, which the government later abandoned.

Last year, proposals for patriotic education in the territory's schools were shelved after thousands of protesters camped outside government headquarters for several weeks, dressed in black and chanting for the withdrawal from the curriculum of what they called "brainwashing" propaganda from the Communist Party.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (8)
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Jennifer

from Toronto

You do realize that CCP has given you many leeways in economic policy and saved HK's ... in economic criss countless times, if not, do your research. Not to say how dependent HK economy is right now on mainland China (water, food imports), whereas right now Beijing and Shanghai are slowly but surely replacing the role of HK in international economy. There is no way that Hong Kong will ever go back into Britain colonial rule. And if it ever did, hk will be the one who got hit the most. If you think Brits and come and rescue HK, think twice as they can't even save their own ... in this economic crisis


[This comment has been edited by RFA Editorial staff per our Terms of Use]

Oct 06, 2014 10:32 AM

Earth

Hong Kongers wished to be back with its mother land. So think twice before to get to your CCP. Happened the same like Vietnam. Taiwan will be some days.

Oct 01, 2014 08:47 PM

Margaret

from Hong Kong, British Empire

People should only speak for themselves, including 'Kai, from Hong Kong'. I myself, believe that Hong Kong should return to British Rule, or become independent as a Commonwealth Realm, with QEII as head of state. This would protect China from invading. Many people, you see it all over the place, want change, and most of them, want British rule back. This is definitely over 1%, and if you cannot see that, I suggest some new math courses. It is about 90% that want independence or British Rule, and only about 10% like SAR HK. Most of my family and friends and I moved away from Hong Kong to other Commonwealth realms, such as Britain, Canada, Australia etc as we liked the way of the government set by the British.

God Save Her Majesty The Queen!

Aug 01, 2013 02:24 PM

Wangchuk

from NY

I've been to Hong Kong many times and this news is interesting. Although it was not a scientific poll I think most Hong Kongers are dissatisfied w/ Beijing & the CCP. The CCP has failed to implement democracy as guaranteed under the Basic Law. The CCP has interfered in local affairs on some occasions. Don't forget the promise of autonomy for HK is only for 50 years. After that, HK becomes like any other province or city under CCP rule.

Mar 15, 2013 11:48 AM

Kai

from Hong Kong

I came from Hong Kong.

I believe 90% of HK people do not want to return to British rule, especially those old enough to experience British rule. Colonial British is worse than CCP not until 1990, 7 years before HK return to China. The policy made have no public consultation and is dominated by British and Chinese elite and all oppositional voice were "managed".

Those people saying that they prefer British rule are those post-1990 born HK people. They like British rule not because they have experienced that, it is just because they want to return to the 1990s, when HK is still in an era of blooming economy and people are richer in terms of purchasing power at that time.

If you live in HK and can read Chinese. You will know that these people are less than 1% of the population, they are minority, but they voice is respected.

We are Hong Kong people, some of us may not like CCP, but we know that we are Chinese. British is nothing but an invader on our motherland.

Mar 15, 2013 10:30 AM

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