Press Release

17 February 2020


1C2S Index lingers around record low at 5.7

International score drops slightly, expected to fall due to social factors


(Press Release) Path of Democracy is releasing the latest ‘One Country Two Systems’ (1C2S) Index today (17 February), which is recorded at 5.7, resultant of the 3.53 given by the Hong Kong public and 7.87 given by international think tanks. Since the last report, the international community’s regard of Hong Kong experienced a slight drop, while the public spiraled down since the anti-extradition movement erupted last June. In the span of just half a year, the Index fell from 6.23 to 5.7, remained close to its record low.


Confidence in 1C2S at risk

Public opinion on the nine dimensions of 1C2S are derived from telephone poll surveys conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in June, August, October and December 2019. Each round, about 1,000 individuals, aged 18 or above was be randomly sampled. During the stated period, the score fell from 4.58 to 3.53. Ray Poon, Co-convenor (Research) of Path of Democracy and project leader of 1C2S Index, explained that while some applauded the development of the Greater Bay Area, the outbreak of public fear from the anti-extradition movement highlighted the inadequacies or insensitivity of local governance and deep rooted social problems, the trend of declining index score is therefore unsurprising.


International think tanks’ regard of 1C2S expected to fall

International perception 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 7.87 in 2019. It is worth noting that Cato-Fraser Institutes raised Hong Kong’s rating for security while making negative adjustments for rule of law and freedom of expression. Nonetheless, Ray Poon pointed out that due to time lag in the compilation of international indices, further decline at the international level is anticipated given the current socio-political situation.


Youth involvement in the anti-extradition movement

Data reveal that young people’s involvement in the movement produced some distinctive patterns among their sub-groups. In the 18-29 age group, students’ participation (50.7%) had been much less prominent than employed youths (73.8%). However, as the movement escalated, students were seen to be growingly open to the concept of violent resistance as their net acceptance ratio grew sharply from 6.5% in August to 29.1% in October. The rise in this group was much quicker than their employed counterparts.


As the discontent boiled, people from both camps began to use online doxing to put pressure on protesters and journalists on the one hand and on police officers and their families on the other. Acceptance of such behaviours was low, although acceptance of doxing against police officers and their families was generally higher. The difference in level of acceptance of online doxing against the two groups was starkest among the age group 30-39 years.


Regarding the decline seen in most indicators, Ray Poon believed that the anti-extradition movement has created a never-before-seen crisis of confidence in Hong Kong and the future development of 1C2S, the disaffection among the younger cohort is particularly worrying.


Overwhelming support for the continuation of 1C2S

The overall support for the continuation of 1C2S after 2047 was overwhelmingly high at 73.5%. Despite the social turbulence, support across all groups with different political inclinations still maintained at around and often over 70%, including the localists and self-determinists, who are 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.


Resurgence of political polarization

The population became more polarized from December 2018 to December 2019 amidst a hopeful trend of the rise of moderation in 2017 and 2018. While moderates remained the largest group, they had decreased by 13.3 percentage points (from 64.2% to 50.9%) in 2019.  Non-establishment supporters rose by 15.1 percentage points (from 21.7% to 36.8%) in the same period while pro-establishment supporters decreased by 4 percentage points (from 11.3% to 7.3%).


Radicalism re-emerged among youths (aged 18 to 29). The proportion of moderates in this age group dropped from 66.4% in December 2018 to 38.2% in December 2019 (decreasing by 28.2 percentage points) while the proportion of the non-establishment group rose from 29.7% to 55.3% (rising by 25.6 percentage points). Within the non-establishment group, the proportions of democrats and ‘others’ rose from 19.6% to 28.5% and from 10.1% to 26.9% respectively (rising by 8.9% and 16.8% percentage points).


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 December 2018 to October 2019, the public’s self-identification as ‘Hongkongers’ rose from 8.06 to 8.41. In the same period, that as ‘Chinese’ dropped from 6.83 to 4.72.


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 36.2% and was surpassed by citizens identifying themselves strongly as ‘Hongkongers only’ (53.5%) in October 2019.


Sharp 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 146,000 news articles from 21 newspapers in Hong Kong to compile the Mass Media Index. On the one hand, the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area brought a bright and hopeful economic future, on the other hand, the anti-extradition movement erupted in mid-2019 turned Hong Kong into a battle ground of international power struggle, subsequently featuring in the Sino-US trade talks, Beijing’s 1C2S plan for Taiwan and the passage of the ‘Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act’. The 1C2S Mass Media Index accordingly dropped from 91.6 in June 2019 to 84.5 and then spiraled down to 67.2 in December 2019, producing an overall plunge of over 24.4%.


Full report and survey results:

Survey period 27/5- 6/6 24/7-7/8 17/10-31/10 10/12-20/12
Respondents 1,002 1,001 1,002 1,000