One Country Two Systems Index (July 2018)

In light of the 20th anniversary of the handover, Path of Democracy conducted a public survey and developed an index that aims to calibrate the current state of “One Country Two Systems” (henceforth 1C2S). The Index serves anyone who is interested in the progress of 1C2S. The index’s data is sourced from two components: firstly, we commissioned a telephone survey on 1C2S carried out by the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; secondly, comparative analysis of Hong Kong with reference to international indices that track aggregate freedom and democracy levels.

International indices are important as they provide a global point of reference on the preservation of Hong Kong’s freedom and democracy, which is integral to the implementation of 1C2S.

“One Country Two Systems” Overview: Public Survey and Index Construction

Summary of results (July 2018)

This is our third Report on the ‘One Country Two Systems’ (henceforth 1C2S) Index (henceforth the Index). The purpose of the Index is to provide an objective assessment on the implementation of 1C2S. Our first Report was released in mid-2017, on the 20th anniversary of HK’s return to China. It is our intention to update the Index once every six months. This will be our third Report on the Index. We constructed the Index as the average of the following two indices:

  • Index (A), an index of HK Public’s Evaluation of 1C2S: Compiled from a telephone poll on various dimensions of 1C2S; and
  • Index (B), the Freedom and Democracy Index, which is obtained from various relevant indices produced by international think tanks.

Every half year, we update the Index through updating indices (A) and (B) respectively with a new public survey and with the latest data from international indices. In our second Report on the Index released in early 2018, besides updating the Index, we also introduced a new 1C2S Mass Media Index (MMI) that use big-data techniques to measure the sentiment of Hong Kong newspapers as regards 1C2S from 1988 to the end of 2017 as we consider news sentiment has very significant influences on public opinion.

In this third Report on the Index, we have conducted a third telephone poll to compile Index (A), reflecting conditions in mid-2018. We also updated Index (B) with the latest international data. For the MMI, we include newspaper reports up to the end of June 2018 to capture the latest news sentiment on 1C2S.

In our Report, differences in scores at a particular point in time, or changes in scores over time that are big enough to be statistically significant will be noted explicitly. If there is no mentioning of statistical significance about a score, it means that the difference or change concerned is statistically insignificant.

From the end of 2017 to mid-2018, Index (A) rose from 4.98 to 5.05 while Index (B) fell from 8.04 to 8.01. The Index consequently rose from 6.51 to 6.53, rising by 0.3%.

The evaluation of the HK public of 1C2S has improved. From the MMI, the sentiments of HK newspapers on 1C2S has also improved. However, international perception has diverged from local perception in HK. This is likely a result of the adverse publicity in the international media on trials of protesters who participated in ‘Occupy Central’ and the Mongkok riot.

Index score

Based on the results of the first survey, and comparative analysis of international indices. The performance of 1C2S implementation stands at:


This study is the first step in the construction of a 1C2S Index. We seek to refine our data collection and index construction methodologies, and carry out a public survey every 6 months, in order to calibrate the 1C2S Index for the reference of the public and policy makers.

  1. Change in scores in the three rounds

Changes in scores in the Index are likely to be affected by the controversial political events that occurred from mid-2017 to mid-2018. Between the first and second rounds, the following events generated a lot of attention:

  • Disqualification of four LegCo members by the High Court,
  • Prison sentences on the (13 + 3) protesters: The violent demonstrations of 13 protestors in relation to East North Territories Development, and the three student leaders (Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow) in the Civic Square occupation. The three students leaders were initially spared imprisonment and were sentenced to perform community service. However, the government won a sentence review pushing for tougher punishment. In August 2017, the Court of Appeals sentenced them to 6 to 13 months imprisonment. The court also gave new tougher sentence guidelines for future cases of large-scale unlawful assemblies involving violence. Emphasis on ‘overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong’ in the Work Report of 19th CPC National Congress,
  • Amendment of the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council to restrict filibustering,
  • China’s enactment of the national anthem law, and
  • Legco’s passage of the non-binding motion on the high speed rail co-location arrangement.

Between the second and third rounds, from late 2017 to mid-2018, the following controversies are noteworthy:

  • The case of the three student leaders was brought to the Court of Final Appeals (CFA). The CFA overturned the prison sentences on the trio on a technicality but ruled that the Court of Appeals was entitled to give tough sentence guidelines for future cases of large-scale unlawful assemblies involving violence.
  • Legco’s passage of the co-location bill on June 14 after protracted debates.
  • Hong Kong is due to start the local legislative process to implement the national anthem law in the second half of 2018.
  • Edward Leung, leader of HK Indigenous, was given a prison sentence of 6 years on June 11 for his role in the MongKok riot.

The above events may have adversely affected the evaluations of 1C2S by the public and also by international think tanks. However, the sentencing of Edward Leung on June 11 occurred after our 3rd survey was carried out and therefore could not affect the results of the 3rd survey, which was conducted from May 23 to June 2. However, the MMI does capture the effect of the sentencing as the MMI covers news sentiment up to the end of June.