Support for Hong Kong street protests wanes ahead of expected clearance: poll

SHAFAQNA –  More than two-thirds of Hong Kong people think pro-democracy demonstrators who have occupied key parts of the Chinese-controlled city for seven weeks should end their street protests, a Chinese University of Hong Kong survey suggests.

Of those surveyed, 67.4 percent said the protesters should vacate the streets. Public support for the movement was also wavering, with 43.5 percent of people saying they were against it, compared with 33.9 percent who gave their support.

The results came after an eviction notice for the main Admiralty protest site, next to the Central business district, was published in newspapers on Saturday, suggesting police may move in any day to clear all the street blockades in line with court-ordered injunctions.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that gives the city more autonomy and freedom than the mainland and a goal of universal suffrage.

The protesters are demanding open nominations in the city’s next election for chief executive in 2017. Beijing has said it will allow a vote in 2017, but only between pre-screened candidates.

The protests, which drew well over 100,000 at their peak, have dwindled to hundreds camped out in colorful tents at key intersections on both sides of the harbor.

China and Hong Kong launched the Stock Connect scheme on Monday, giving foreign and Chinese retail investors unprecedented access to the Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges.

There were no protests at the Hong Kong exchange against the scheme that will bolster financial ties with the mainland.

Even as the university survey showed a lack of support for the protesters’ occupation of the streets, it also showed displeasure with the Hong Kong government’s handling of the crisis.

About 40 percent of those surveyed felt the government’s response had been inadequate and nearly half – 48.5 percent – said the government needed to make concessions.

The survey involved 1,030 Cantonese-speaking residents between Nov. 5 and 11.

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