Onsite Survey Findings in Hong Kong’s Anti-Extradition Bill Protests
The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill (known thereafter as the extradition bill), proposed by the Hong Kong government in February2019, has triggered a series of mass assemblies and demonstrations across the semi-autonomous territory since March. The scale and intensity of such collective actions have surpassed any of the city’s previous protests.
In view of this, a team of university researchers, led by Professor Francis L. F. Lee (School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Dr. Samson Yuen (Department of Political Science, Lingnan University), Dr. Gary Tang (Department of Social Science, The Hang Seng University of Hong Kong) and Dr. Edmund W. Cheng (Department of Government and International Studies, Hong Kong Baptist University), has conducted a series of onsite surveys since the “Safeguard Hong Kong anti-extradition bill march” organized by the Civil Human Rights Front on June 9.
The research was also supported and coordinated by the Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey at the School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The team would like to thank Dr. Dennis K.K. Leung, Ms. Rachel S.M. Wong, Ms. Wendy L.Y Leung, Mr. Hans Tse, Ms. Cheryl S.Y. Shea, Ms. Megan M.Y. Chick and Mr. Hiu Fung Chung for their dedicated research support.
As of August 4, the team has conducted a total of 12 onsite surveys, with a total sample size of 6,688 respondents. Excluding the Yuen Long rally on July 27, which took place under exceptional circumstances, the overall response rate is 87.6%.
Citation of this report by academic works should appear as:
Francis L. F. Lee, Gary Tang, Samson Yuen, and Edmund W. Cheng, "Onsite Survey Findings in Hong Kong's Anti-Extradition Bill Protests", Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, August 2019.
- In general, participants of the anti-extradition bill movement were mostly young people, aged between 20-30. Their education level is high, with the majority of them having university qualification. More respondents identified themselves as belonging to the middle class than as belonging to the lower class. But in some specific protests, especially those with a more confrontational atmosphere, the ratio of middle-class participants to lower class participants was close to 1:1.
- Participants exhibited a wide range of political orientations. “Moderate democrats” were the core participants of the movement, followed by those who regarded themselves as “localists” in a broad sense. It is worth noting that the proportion of participants who identified themselves as “centrist” or having “no political affiliation” was also significant.
- “Calling for the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill” and “expressing dissatisfaction with the police’s handling of the protest” were the two most important motivations for protesters to participate in the protests throughout the movement. On the contrary, “calling for the resignation of Carrie Lam and major officials” was not their major demand. It is notable that “striving for Hong Kong’s democracy” also became a key motivation for protesters since July. Overall, police power and the failure of the government to completely withdraw the bill were the two key reasons why protesters continued to participate.
- Around 80 percent of the participants believed that the protests should continue if the government did not make further concessions other than simply suspending the extradition bill. Among them, about half supported escalating their actions, while the other half believed that the current form and scale of the protests should be maintained. Suspending the protests, however, is an unpopular option.
- Over half of the respondents also participated in 2014’s Umbrella Movement. Along with the June-Fourth vigil, these two events were the “first social movement experience” for the one-fourths of the respondents, respectively. At the same time, the anti-extradition bill movement was also the first social movement for more than one-eighths of therespondents.
- Half of the respondents in the June protests believed that peaceful, rational and non-violent protest was no longer useful. On the other hand, more and more participants considered radical protests to be more effective in making the government heed public opinion. The majority of participants also agreed that radical tactics could alienate the general public. This finding shows that the participants were still concerned about the attitude of the general public towards the movement.
- A popular slogan in the movement was “climbing mountains together, making your own effort.” It conveys the idea that supporters of peaceful and radical tactics each have their role to play in the movement. The survey findings also provide evidence of the strong solidarity among the protesters. Most of the participants agreed that “the maximum impact could only be achieved when peaceful assembly and confrontational actions work together”. In the July protests, it is interesting to note that more and more participants agreed that “the use of radical tactics by protesters is understandable when the government fails to listen”.