Are Hongkongers less interested in politics? Survey finds about 60% indifferent, most steer clear of sharing opinions online

About 60 per cent of Hongkongers have said they are not interested in politics, with more than four-fifths rarely or never expressing relevant opinions on social media in the past year, a survey by a local university has found.

The findings released by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at Chinese University on Wednesday suggested that more residents had become apathetic towards politics, with associate director of the centre Dr Victor Zheng Wan-tai warning the trend could hinder governance.

“As people are less involved, developments in the community may not be able to reflect many of their views, which may lead to the accumulation of negative emotions. It may be unfavourable towards governance and taking the pulse of public opinion,” Zheng said.

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He explained that residents’ indifference might indicate negative feelings they had regarding the future of the city’s social and political development, which had not matched their expectations.

The institute conducted a telephone survey between July and August this year, interviewing 711 people aged 18 or above.

Thirty-nine per cent and 23.9 per cent of respondents said they were not very concerned by or had no interest at all in politics, respectively. The proportion of these two groups combined had increased by 7.3 percentage points compared with a similar study done last year.

The city was rocked by months-long anti-government unrest in 2019 triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill. Photo: Sam Tsang

About 16 per cent seldom expressed political opinions online, such as on social media platform Facebook and internet forums, in the past year while 68 per cent said they had never done so. The proportion of such responses had grown by 17.1 percentage points over last year.

Hong Kong was rocked by months-long anti-government unrest in 2019 triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

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It led to citywide protests as well as discussions locally and globally on Hong Kong’s political situation and its future development before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out at the start of 2020 and Beijing imposed the national security law.
Beijing also revamped the city’s electoral system to ensure only “patriots” held power.

The latest survey found that 83.8 per cent of Hongkongers had never shared their views with district councillors or legislators in the past year.

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About 55 per cent of respondents said they believed government officials did not care much about what they thought, up 7.4 percentage points over last year’s survey, with only 16.2 per cent disagreeing with such a notion. Almost 52 per cent said they did not have “any say” on government policies.

More than 47.1 per cent of respondents disagreed that political parties in the city could effectively monitor the government, according to the poll.

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Associate director Zheng said the survey team had observed that passions picked up in recent years amid the upheavals to governance, despite some residents previously being less interested in political developments.

“Every time during elections and political reform, different political powers take part and we can see more interest from the public. When some political events happen, people may pay more attention and become more passionate,” he said.

But such feelings diminished over time, he said.

“As these events end, society will resume to normality and people will shift their focus to livelihood, entertainment and their own lives, becoming less interested in politics.”


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