Press Release

20 August 2020


1C2S index dropped further to 5.58 after brief recovery, international indexes modestly fell, though expected to decline further due to straining relations


(Press Release) Path of Democracy is releasing the latest 1C2S index today (20 August), which is recorded at 5.58, resultant of the 3.39 given by the public and 7.76 given by international thinktanks. Since the last report, the international community’s regard of Hong Kong experienced a slight drop, while the public continued to drop after a brief recovery. In the span of just half a year, the index fell further from 5.70 to 5.58, increasing by only 0.01 points from the historic low of 5.57 recorded in October 2020, producing the second lowest since the inception of the index.


Confidence in 1C2S hung low

Public opinion on the nine dimensions of 1C2S are derived from telephone poll survey conducted by Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in June. 1,001 individuals, aged 18 or above were randomly sampled. The score fell from 3.53 in December 2019 to 3.39 in June 2020. Co-convenor (Research) of Path of Democracy, Ray Poon, who is in charge of the 1C2S Index, explained that the unresolved demands of the protesters were quick to resume momentum as early strategies against COVID-19 exposed the government’s unpreparedness. Concerns about the state of 1C2S and the various rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law were heightened by the drafting of the Hong Kong National Security Law in late May, prompting vigorous reactions from both local citizens and the international communities. The trend of declining index score is therefore unsurprising.


All nine dimensions experienced decline, among which ‘freedom of speech’, recorded at 4.04, witnessed the largest drop of 7.3 percentage points. Ray Poon believed that the showdown between Beijing and Washington over media outlets, the worsening government-police-media relationship and concerns about the details and implications of the introduction of the Hong Kong National Security Law all roused anxiety among the public about the intactness of their freedoms.


Convenor of Path of Democracy, Ronny Tong proposed setting up a broadly representative committee to advise the HKSAR Government on all issues relating to 1C2S; setting up a dedicated office under a relevant policy bureau to explain and address the concerns of and answer any queries regarding the National Security Law from the public including the international business community as well as paying more attention to the education of young members of the public in relation to issues such as understanding of the 1C2S, true meaning of rule of Law, human rights and related freedoms, moral standards, broadening of societal as well as international perspectives, and increase awareness of national issues.


International thinktanks’ regard of 1C2S expected to fall

International index score is derived from Cato-Fraser Institutes’ Economic Freedom Index and Personal Freedom Index, and the Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index. The score encountered a slight decline from 7.91 in 2018 to 7.76 in 2019. Due to time lag in the compilation of international indices, further decline at the international level is anticipated given the perceived deterioration in rule of law, freedom of association and freedom of expression.


Slight decline in 1C2S Mass Media Index           

For the purpose of monitoring how 1C2S is conveyed in the mass media and thereby engineering the formation of public sentiment, Path of Democracy have mined close to 153,000 news articles from 21 news agents in Hong Kong to compile the Mass Media Index. Personnel change in the central departments responsible for Hong Kong affairs pushed MMI upwards from 67.2 to 73 in the beginning of 2020. The dispute over border closure of borders was followed by waves of sentimental speculations about the expeditious introduction of the Hong Kong National Security Law. The index sprang back to 65.5 in July 2020, producing a decrease of 1.7 percent compared with December 2019.


Resurgence of political polarization

The population became more polarized in 2019 and this trend unfortunately continues in 2020, amidst a hopeful trend of the rise of moderation in 2017 and 2018. While moderates remained the largest group, they had decreased by 0.9 percentage points since December 2019 (from 50.9% to 50.0%). Non-establishment supporters steadily rose by 4.2 percentage points (from 36.8% to 41.0%) in the same period while pro-establishment supporters inched forward by 1.7 percentage points (from 7.3% to 9.0%). Despite a subsiding momentum of the anti-extradition movement, the resurgence of political polarization is clear: while the pro-establishment regain supporters, the non-establishment finds its growth steadied, only the proportion of moderates continue to drop.


Overwhelming support for the continuation of 1C2S

The overall support for the continuation of 1C2S after 2047 was overwhelmingly high at 77.2%. Despite the social turbulence, support across all groups with different political inclinations still maintained at around and often over 75%, including the resistance camp, who is known to be highly critical of 1C2S. Though the public’s current evaluation of 1C2S is quite critical, the majority of them still regard 1C2S as the right system for Hong Kong’s future.


For the majority of the respondents, ‘maintaining a high degree of autonomy’ (69.6%) remained the most important items, while ‘democratising further’ (53.3%) secured its second place for the second time since the outbreak of the social movement, surpassing ‘maintaining economic prosperity and stability’ (51.9%) which used to consistently occupy the second place. This phenomenon is in line with one of the demands of the protesters.


Divergence of citizens’ identity as ‘Hongkongers’ and ‘Chinese’

Citizens’ self-identification as ‘Hongkongers’ and ‘Chinese’ started to diverge after a period of parallel increase. From October 2019 to June 2020, the public’s self-identification as ‘Hongkongers’ rose from 8.41 to 8.55. In the same period, that as ‘Chinese’ dropped from 4.72 to 4.38, reaching statistically significant level.


Most Hong Kong citizens are typically cognizant of their dual identity as both ‘Hongkongers’ and ‘Chinese’. This has gradually changed since June 2019. While over half of the public acknowledged dual identity in earlier surveys, this had dropped to only 32.5%. The two identities used to mutually reinforce each other but currently, there are signs of polarization instead. A stronger identification as ‘Hongkonger’ now accompanies a weaker one as ‘Chinese’. The converse, on the other hand, also holds. The loss of the mutuality of the two identities as ‘Hongkonger’ and ‘Chinese’ risks challenging the implementation of 1C2S in the near future and one must take careful note of this.


For full Report, please visit: 

Poll Agency: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Dates: 6/6-29/6                             Sample size: 1,001

Response Rates: 39.5%                Sampling Error: 3.1%