- A record 69% of Hong Kongers lack confidence in the region's local government
- 19% approve of Chief Executive Carrie Lam
- 56% lack confidence in the local police
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After living through months of sometimes times violent protests, Hong Kong residents have been left with little faith in their institutions -- just as they are facing a new threat from a potential coronavirus outbreak in their community.
At the height of the protests that included calls for embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam's resignation last fall, Gallup data show Lam's approval ratings stood at 19%. Hong Kong residents didn't place much more faith in their local government, as their confidence dropped to a new low of 30%.
The ongoing unrest began in June of last year, over proposed legislation that would have changed Hong Kong's extradition laws to allow for suspects to be extradited to other jurisdictions. This unrest has disrupted life in the region, at times bringing road and rail traffic to a standstill. The legislation that sparked the unrest has since been withdrawn. However, the demonstrations have continued, given new life in recent weeks over the government's action to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the region.
The sharp drop in confidence in 2019 stands in contrast with most of the findings since Gallup started asking the question in 2014. A slim majority (53%) of Hong Kong residents expressed faith in the government in 2014, while 45% did not.
Confidence in Police Cut in Half
Clashes between protesters and Hong Kong's police force have led to the arrests of an estimated 7,000 protesters and the deaths of at least two protesters. In the aftermath, Hong Kong residents' confidence in their police in 2019 (43%) fell to about half of what it was in 2017 (80%).
A majority of Hong Kong residents (56%) report they lack confidence in their local police, more than double the 20% who said the same in 2017. Prior to 2019, no more than 28% of Hong Kongers reported lacking confidence in the local police. Notably, that previous high of 28% was recorded in 2016, following protest for greater local autonomy for the region, which resulted in dozens of injuries and arrests.
While the amendments to Hong Kong's extradition laws were withdrawn, a substantial slide in confidence in the region's judiciary has occurred. Nearly half of Hong Kongers (45%) now report they lack confidence in the region's judicial system, up from 24% in 2017, while 52% say they have confidence in Hong Kong's courts, down from 75% just three years ago.
A Majority of Hong Kongers Now Believe Elections Are Not Honest
In November, Hong Kongers went to the polls and delivered a victory to opposition party candidates. Prior to that election, a majority of Hong Kongers (57%) said they did not have confidence in the honesty of the region's elections, up from 49% in 2017. This was the first time in Gallup's trend that a majority of Hong Kongers did not have confidence in the honesty of elections.
Since 2012, Hong Kongers have been roughly evenly divided in their confidence that the region's elections were honest. However, in 2019, there was a clear divergence with a record high percentage expressing a lack of confidence.
Substantial drops in confidence in Hong Kong's government and institutions clearly reflect the unrest that engulfed the region in 2019. These drops present a clear challenge to the region's government, which must both try to bring an end to unrest and restore Hong Kong residents' confidence -- in an increasingly challenging environment. A change in leadership could be a potential step toward restoring confidence, given the low levels of approval for Lam, who survived an effort to impeach her in December.
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