Support for Hong Kong Protesters’ Demands Rises Even as Coronavirus Halts Rallies: Poll

Support for the demands of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong has grown even as rallies have paused due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to a survey conducted for Reuters that also showed a widespread lack of confidence in the government’s ability to manage the COVID-19 crisis, Reuters reported.

Demands for the resignation of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, were supported by 63% of respondents in the poll, conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute between March 17-20, versus 57% in a poll it conducted in December.

Supporters of the protests outnumbered opponents by a ratio of roughly two to one, with 28% against them compared with 30% in a poll in December, and 58% supporting them, versus 59% previously.

The poll showed a significant increase in the levels of support for key demands of the often-violent demonstrations which rattled the city for most of last year and into early January before the coronavirus crisis.

The survey also showed a widespread lack of confidence in the government’s coronavirus measures, with 54% expressing distrust and 33% giving the thumbs up, Reuters adds.

The anti-government protests escalated in June 2019 over a since withdrawn bill that would have allowed extraditions of defendants to mainland China, and later morphed into a movement for greater democracy in the Chinese-ruled city.

Many protesters say Beijing has used its authority under the “one country, two systems” formula, agreed when Britain handed over the city to China in 1997, to undermine freedoms enjoyed in Hong Kong that are unavailable in the mainland.

Support for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a core demand of protesters aimed at strengthening the territory’s level of autonomy, rose to 68% from 60% in December.

An independent commission of inquiry, which protesters want to look into how the police handled demonstrations, is now supported by 76% of respondents versus 74% previously.

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