More than 80 per cent of young Hongkongers believe the Chinese government acted wrongly over the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, according to a University of Hong Kong survey.

The university’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP) has collected data on Hong Kong people’s views on the crackdown over the past 27 years. Monday’s annual results represent the final set of data before the programme is spun off from the university to become an independent body.

HKUPOP interviewed 1,013 Hong Kong residents by random telephone survey in late May. For those aged between 18 and 29, 83 per cent of the interviewees said the Chinese government did the wrong thing by cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in 1989, whilst only two per cent said the Chinese government acted correctly.

tiananmen massacre vigil 2018 hong kong
File Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

The massacre occurred on June 4 1989, ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, died as the military suppressed protesters around Tiananmen Square.

Among the 18 to 29 age group, 68 per cent said Beijing students were in the right. Among all ages, 52 per cent said Beijing students did the right thing. Asked if there should be a revocation of the official stance on the crackdown, 74 per cent of the respondents in the 18 to 29 age group said they agreed. The overall figure stood at 59 per cent.

Frank Lee, research manager at HKUPOP, said that Hong Kong people’s mainstream opinion was still that the Chinese government was in the wrong in 1989. He said people still support the Beijing protesters, and want Beijing to revisit its stance.

He added that the younger the respondents, the more likely they blame the Chinese government and support the Beijing students: “This probably reflects the demand for democracy among the younger generation,” he said.

hkupop Public Opinion Programme of the University of Hong Kong
Photo: HKFP remix.

Democracy in China

Overall, 62 per cent of the respondents said Hong Kong people have a responsibility to instigate the development of democracy in China, representing an increase of six per cent from last year. But it was lower than the figure noted in the 2015 survey, which stood at 66 per cent.

The ratio of people who consider the human rights situation in China to be worse than in 1989 registered a record-high result since the survey was launched in 1993. The proportion who think conditions will worsen over the next three years is also at a record high.

A vigil will be held in Victoria Park on Tuesday night to commemorate the dead.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.