Hong Kong, China – Only 17 percent of Hong Kong residents are in favor of seeking independence from China and almost half blame the city government for civil unrest, rather than the government in Beijing, a new poll showed.
The Reuters survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute shows that, while 59 percent of residents support the anti-government protest movement, they are still overwhelmingly against independence from China.
A solid majority of 57 percent said they wanted to see city leader Carrie Lam, who has been a major target of the demonstrators, step down. The unrest was triggered by a now dropped extradition bill, which protesters said was an “attempt by Beijing to undermine freedoms guaranteed under the current governing agreement in place until 2047”.
Only 20 percent of respondents said they were opposed to the current system of “one country, two systems”, which is the current model by which Hong Kong is governed by Beijing. Meanwhile, 30 percent said they were against the protest movement altogether.
Reuters reported that the poll shows little public support for the denunciations of China by the most hardline protesters.
“People go on the street due to their dissatisfaction with police and the political system, not asking for independence,” Samson Yuen, a political science professor at Lingnan University told the outlet.
Responding to the poll, a government spokesperson stated that Lam would “continue to engage the people through dialogue”.
While much Western outrage has been directed at Hong Kong’s police force and the centralized government in China, only 12 percent pointed the finger at Beijing, and only 9 percent surveyed said the police deserved most of the blame for the violent unrest — though 74 percent said they supported an independent inquiry into incidents of alleged police brutality.
Meanwhile, as violence escalated, local authorities said that much of the unrest was inspired by provocateurs and foreign meddling. In particular, Beijing has slammed a US bill supporting “pro-democracy” activists in Hong Kong as an insult to its sovereignty.