HKU POP releases findings of the latest annual June Fourth surveyBack

 
Press Release on June 2, 2011

| Abstract | Latest Figures | Indepth Analysis | Commentary |
| Supplementary Information: About annual June Fourth surveys | Future Releases (Tentative) |
| Detailed Findings (Surveys on June Fourth Incident) |


Abstract

The Public Opinion Programme (POP) of the University of Hong Kong interviewed 1,007 and 1,033 Hong Kong people between 16 and 18 May as well as between 23 and 31 May respectively by means of a random telephone survey conducted by real interviewers. The survey finds a number of significant changes in people's views of June 4. From a broad perspective, mainstream opinion still maintains that the Chinese Government was wrong in 1989, people still support the Beijing students, demand a reversion of the official stand on June Fourth, and oppose to disbanding the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China. However, both positive and negative answers to these questions have dropped, while uncertain answers have increased, probably meaning that Hong Kong people are paying more attention to local problems this year. For the same reason, although most people still think that Hong Kong people have a responsibility to promote economic and democratic development in China, the percentages have dropped significantly to 68% and 67%. If one had to choose between the two, the ratio becomes 34% versus 33%. This is the smallest difference registered across our 19 anniversary surveys. When asked to balance the priority between economic and democratic development for China, again choosing one out of two, the ratio becomes 32% versus 43% in favour of democratic development, which is record high since the survey began in 1993. As on the human right condition in China, more people consider the situation has improved since 1989, and feel optimistic about future development. However, all positive answers have dropped, and all negative answers have gone up to record high since the beginning of the survey. Further analysis shows that the younger the respondent, the more likely one supports a reversion of the official stand on June Fourth. This probably reflects the demand for democracy among the younger generation. The maximum sampling error of all percentages is between +/-2 and +/-3 percentage points at 95% confidence level, while the sampling error of rating figure is +/-2.2. The response rates of the surveys are 65% and 66%.

Points to note:
[1] The address of the "HKU POP SITE" is http://hkupop.hku.hk, journalists can check out the details of the survey there.
[2] The respective sample size of these surveys are 1,007 and 1, 033 successful interviews, not 1,007 x 64.9% or 1,033 x 66.1% response rate. In the past, many media made this mistake.
[3] The maximum sampling error of all percentages is between +/-2 and +/-3 percentage points at 95% confidence level, while the sampling error of rating figure is +/-2.2."95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified. When quoting these figures, journalists can state"sampling error of rating not more than +/-2.2 and sampling error of percentages not more than +/-3% at 95% confidence level".
[4] When quoting percentages of this survey, journalists should refrain from reporting decimal places, but when quoting the rating figures, one decimal place can be used, in order to match the precision level of the figures.
[5] The data of this survey is collected by means of random telephone interviews conducted by real interviewers, not by any interactive voice system (IVS). If a research organization uses"computerized random telephone survey" to camouflage its IVS operation, it should be considered unprofessional.


Latest Figures

POP today releases on schedule via the "HKU POP SITE" the findings of the latest annual June Fourth survey. As a general practice, all the figures have been weighted according to provisional figures obtained from the Census and Statistics Department regarding the gender-age distribution of the Hong Kong population in 2010 year-end. Herewith the contact information for the latest survey:

Date of survey

Overall sample size

Response rate

Maximum sampling error of percentages[6]

16-18/5/2011

1,007

64.9%

+/-3%

23-31/5/2011

1,033

66.1%

+/-3%

[6] Calculated at 95% confidence level using full sample size."95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified. Questions using only sub-samples would have bigger sample error. Sampling errors of ratings are calculated according to the distribution of the scores collected.

Figures of latest annual June Fourth survey are summarized as follows:

Date of survey

16-25/5/07

28/5-2/6/08

19-22/5/09

18-20/5/10

16-18/5/11

Latest change

Sample base

1,008

1,007

1,011

1,015

1,007

--

Overall response rate

61.1%

67.2%

68.3%

72.5%

64.9%

--

Finding for each question/Sampling error

Finding

Finding

Finding

Finding

Finding and error[7]

--

Proportion of respondents believing:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beijing students did the right thing

50%

50%

56%[8]

56%

49+/-3%

-7%[8]

The Beijing students did the wrong thing

19%[8]

15%[8]

19%[8]

18%

15+/-2%

-3%[8]

The Chinese Government did the right thing

13%

15%

13%

14%

11+/-2%

-3%[8]

The Chinese Government did the wrong thing

63%[8]

58%[8]

69%[8]

68%

65+/-3%

-3%

There should be a reversion of the official stand on the incident

55%[8]

49%[8]

61%[8]

61%

58+/-3%

-3%

There should not be a reversion of the official stand on the incident

24%

26%

22%[8]

23%

19+/-2%

-4%[8]

China's human right condition has improved since 1989

78%[8]

85%[8]

78%[8]

63%[8]

55+/-3%

-8%[8]

China's human right condition has worsened since 1989

4%[8]

2%[8]

5%[8]

13%[8]

14+/-2%

+1%

China's human right condition would improve after 3 years

67%[8]

77%[8]

63%[8]

48%[8]

40+/-3%

-8%[8]

China's human right condition would worsen after 3 years

3%

2%

4%[8]

10%[8]

12+/-2%

+2%

HK people have a responsibility to instigate the development of democracy in China

75%

76%

78%

75%

67+/-3%

-8%[8]

HK people have no responsibility to instigate the development of democracy in China

16%

14%

16%

17%

21+/-3%

+4%[8]

HK people have a responsibility to instigate economic development in China

82%

81%

81%

78%

68+/-3%

-10%[8]

HK people have no responsibility to instigate economic development in China

12%

11%

14%[8]

17%[8]

23+/-3%

+6%[8]

HK people should put more effort on instigating economic than democratic development in China

44%

42%

39%

37%

34+/-3%

-3%

HK people should put more effort on instigating democratic than economic development in China

26%

23%

29%[8]

32%

33+/-3%

+1%

China should emphasize more on economic development

45%

46%

46%

36%[8]

32+/-3%

-4%[8]

China should emphasize more on democratic development

29%

27%

31%[8]

38%[8]

43+/-3%

+5%[8]

[7] All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level."95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified. Media can state "sampling error of percentages not more than +/-3% at 95% confidence level" when quoting the above figures. The error margin of previous survey can be found at the POP Site.
[8] Such changes have gone beyond the sampling errors at the 95% confidence level, meaning that they are statistically significant prima facie. However, whether numerical differences are statistically significant or not is not the same as whether they are practically useful or meaningful.

This year's survey findings revealed that 49% of the respondents believed that the Beijing students did the right thing in 1989, while 15% believed that they did the wrong thing. Meanwhile, with regard to the way the Chinese Government handled the matter at that time, 11% regarded it as correct and 65% regarded it as wrong.

The findings also showed that 58% of the respondents supported a reversion of the official stand on the incident while 19% did not. Regarding the human right condition in China, 55% of the respondents believed that China's human right condition has been improved since 1989, and 40% anticipated that China's human right condition will be improved after 3 years.

Moreover, 67% of the respondents believed that Hong Kong people had a responsibility to instigate the development of democracy in China, whereas on the economic aspect, 68% believed that Hong Kong people had such a responsibility. When comparing democratic and economic development, 34% of the respondents believed Hong Kong people should put more effort on instigating economic development in China, while 33% of the respondents put more weight on the development of democracy. Furthermore, 32% believed that China should emphasize more on its economic development, while 43% believed that China should emphasize more on the development of democracy. Latest figures regarding the HK Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China ("the Alliance") are as follows:

Date of survey

28/5-2/6/08

19-22/5/09

18-20/5/10

16-18/5/11

23-31/5/11[10]

Latest change

Sample base

1,007

1,011

1,015

1,007

1,033

--

Overall response rate

67.2%

68.3%

72.5%

64.9%

66.1%

--

Finding for each question/Sampling error

Finding

Finding

Finding

Finding

Finding and error[9]

--

Popularity rating of the HK Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China ("the Alliance")

--

48.0[11]

47.6

--

51.7+/-2.2

+4.1[11]

The Alliance should be disbanded

23%

17%[11]

16%

16+/-2%

--

--

The Alliance should not be disbanded

46%

60%[11]

58%

54+/-3%

--

-4%[11]

[9] All error figures in the table are calculated at 95% confidence level."95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified. Media can state "sampling error of rating not more than +/-2.2, sampling error of percentages not more than +/-3% at 95% confidence level" when quoting the above figures. The error margin of previous survey can be found at the POP Site.
[10] Latest popularity rating of the HK Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China was recorded during the Rating Survey of the Top 10 Political Groups conducted between 23 and 31 May 2011. Starting from 2011, these questions only uses sub-samples of the tracking surveys concerned, the sample size of this latest survey is 577, and its effect has already been reflected in the sampling errors.
[11] Such changes have gone beyond the sampling errors at the 95% confidence level, meaning that they are statistically significant prima facie. However, whether numerical differences are statistically significant or not is not the same as whether they are practically useful or meaningful.

Regarding the Alliance, 16% of the respondents said the Alliance should be disbanded, 54% said no. The latest popularity rating of the Alliance was 51.7 marks.


Indepth Analysis

In the survey, we also asked respondents for their age. If they were reluctant to give their exact age, they could give us a range. According to their answers, we grouped them into 18-29, 30-49, and 50 years or older. Herewith further analysis of proportions of respondents believing there should be a reversion of the official stand on the incident by respondents' age:

Date of survey: 16-18/5/11

18-29

30-49

50 or above

Overall sample

Proportion of respondents believing there should be a reversion of the official stand on the incident[12]

Support

67+/-7%
(126)

62+/-5%
(235)

48+/-5%
(190)

57+/-3%
(552)

Do not support

14+/-5%
(26)

20+/-4%
(75)

22+/-4%
(89)

20+/-3%
(190)

Don't know /
hard to say

19+/-6%
(35)

18+/-4%
(69)

29+/-5%
(115)

23+/-3%
(220)

Total

100%
(188)

100%
(379)

100%
(394)

100%
(962)

[12] Differences among sub-groups are tested to be statistically significant at 95% confidence level.


Commentary

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme observed,"This is the 19th anniversary survey on the June Fourth Incident conducted by POP, marking the 22nd anniversary of June Fourth. Quite a number of significant changes have been registered. From a broad perspective, mainstream opinion still maintains that the Chinese Government was wrong in 1989, people still support the Beijing students, demand a reversion of the official stand on June Fourth, and oppose to disbanding the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China. However, both positive and negative answers to these questions have dropped, while uncertain answers have increased, probably meaning that Hong Kong people are paying more attention to local problems this year. For the same reason, although most people still think that Hong Kong people have a responsibility to promote economic and democratic development in China, the percentages have dropped significantly to 68% and 67%. If one had to choose between the two, the ratio becomes 34% versus 33%. This is the smallest difference registered across our 19 anniversary surveys. When asked to balance the priority between economic and democratic development for China, again choosing one out of two, the ratio becomes 32% versus 43% in favour of democratic development, which is record high since the survey began in 1993. As on the human right condition in China, more people consider the situation has improved since 1989, and feel optimistic about future development. However, all positive answers have dropped, and all negative answers have gone up to record high since the beginning of the survey. Further analysis shows that the younger the respondent, the more likely one supports a reversion of the official stand on June Fourth. This probably reflects the demand for democracy among the younger generation."


Supplementary Information: About annual June Fourth surveys

June Fourth is an important page in the contemporary history of China with a tremendous impact on both the development of Hong Kong and Mainland China. The June Fourth complex which deeply troubled Hong Kong people has dictated the results of many elections, as well as changed the course of Hong Kong's return to the motherland. Therefore, HKUPOP began to study Hong Kong people's opinions of June Fourth and human right conditions in China since 1993. This is the 19th anniversary survey in a row. We explained the development of this polling series in our press releases of May 31, 2007, June 3, 2008, May 27, 2009 and June 1, 2010. Today, we publish it again, so that readers can grasp such developments more comprehensively.

Starting from May 1993, we began this June Fourth survey. Ever since then, it is repeated once every year. The survey has asked respondents to rate the Alliance before June Fourth since 1992 and the wordings used in this question are,"Please use a scale of 0-100 to rate your extent of support to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, with 0 indicating absolutely not supportive, 100 indicating absolutely supportive and 50 indicating half-half. How would you rate the Alliance?". Other questions include"Do you think the Beijing students did the right thing in the June Fourth Incident?","Do you think the Chinese Government did the right thing in the June Fourth Incident?","Do you think the human right condition in China will be better or even worse in three years' time?","Compared to 1989, do you think China's human right condition has become better or worse?","Do you think Hong Kong people have a responsibility to instigate the development of democracy in China?","Do you think Hong Kong people should put more effort on instigating development in China's economy or democracy?","Which do you think China needs more economic or democratic development?" and"Do you think the Alliance should be disbanded?"

In 1996, we added a question to survey people's opinion on whether Hong Kong people have a responsibility to instigate economic development in China while in 1997, we also included a question to see if people would support a reversion of the official stand on the June Fourth Incident.

Regarding sample size, from the beginning to May 1999, the sample size of the survey was set at slightly over 500. Then from May 2000 onwards, it was increased to at least 1,000.

Our findings of previous surveys in May 1999 or before were published in our newsletter POP Express. After our HKU POP Site was established, the findings are released online, while all previous findings published in our POP Express have also uploaded on-line in various formats.


Future Releases (Tentative)

  • June 7, 2011 (Tuesday) 1pm to 2pm: Ratings of top ten political groups
  • June 9, 2011 (Thursday) 1pm to 2pm: Hong Kong people's feeling towards different governments and peoples

| Abstract | Latest Figures | Indepth Analysis | Commentary |
| Supplementary Information: About annual June Fourth surveys | Future Releases (Tentative) |
| Detailed Findings (Surveys on June Fourth Incident) |