Poll Says Hong Kongers Would Prefer British Rule

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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.
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.

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 (13)

Unicorn Blood

I'm chinese and not against hk in attaining indpendance but it seems alot of westerners who do support it are extreme right wing nationalist in their own countries. My own observations - while some do care about human rights - mANY OTHERS however use it as cannon fodder.

I would support hk indpedance or british rule if they have a practical plan of not being depedant on investements that are based on china. Otherwiser they would be destroyed if they somehow do attain indepedance.

If britian is serious, they must offer to help HK attain an income based on invesntment into the UK, and not on China anymore. That way - I feel that hk is truly support by britian and not like with america.

Americans go to Libya, take out the dictator and then leave while the country goes into steep economic descent afterwards and after breaking them, They don't bother to fix what they just broke. I feel that britian must have a complete altruistic plan or don't interfere at all.

*Also it seems like my last 2 comments never got published at all. Why is that??

Apr 19, 2018 05:24 AM


Most of the english speaking hong kong newspapers are not even catered primairly to the chinese. They're british expats who spend most of their time online and they always comment son south chinese morning sea with racial slurs like chinks, etc and hence I'm not suprised they were given the survey.

Apr 19, 2018 05:07 AM

Anonymous Reader

hong kong will be british again mark my words not now but soon

Apr 24, 2017 07:35 PM


from Hobart, Australia

@Margaret, As a citizen of a Commonwealth realm I would support and indeed encourage Hong Kong to Adopt the stable government structor or a realm but I some how think even if Australia, Canada and The UK where protecting Hong Kong China would still over whelm us... I feel bad for the people of Hong Kong you clearly still hold Anglo values of Democracy and Freedom... but unless China has a sudden change of heart about listening to their people... I don't think much will change... The Commonwealth realms should lobby the UN to force China into letting the people of Hong Kong Choose how and who runs Hong Kong.

Sep 03, 2015 09:59 AM

Anonymous Reader

I just realised the seeming contradicition. There are so many trump supporters on forum with china wanting them to be more left wing while in their own western countries wanting their government to be more right wing.

I just find it hypocrticial and don;t feel they have a right to have an opinion on China if they keep being hubristic and going on about white supremecy and making rude demeaing remarks about chinese.

On chinese uncsonored - you can see the trend, many love trump and right wing politics but hate it when china does the equivalent.

I don't know you well enough but Trump's america seem more like the tyanny of the majoirty - being the white male vs the rest. That's anglos values from my persepctive.

Apr 19, 2018 05:40 AM


from toronto

uk builds HK, china destroys it/

Jan 11, 2015 10:18 AM


Most of current hk economy is primarily dependant on investments into mainland china.

Apr 19, 2018 05:09 AM

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