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Half of HK will leave if situation worsens -survey

By Staff
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HONG KONG, May 3 (Reuters) Nearly half of Hong Kong's population, and most of its youngest, wealthiest and best educated people, would leave if the political and economic situation worsened, a survey released today showed.

Politics and the economy were pivotal factors in deciding whether or not to stay in the city, according to a joint survey by the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and a Hong Kong government-funded project at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Forty-four per cent of respondents said they would leave the former British colony if it were ''no longer suitable'' to live in. Twenty-nine per cent of respondents under the age of 40 said they would leave for economic reasons, while 18 per cent said the same -- for political reasons.

The researchers compiled their data from a months-long survey poll of just over 800 respondents.

Sixty-eight per cent of respondents said they were 'dissatisfied'' with the performance of the Democratic Party which has been spearheading a campaign for democratic reforms.

Beijing promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy under the so-called ''one country, two systems'' formula when Britain returned the one-time colony to China in 1997.

The territory has its own courts, police and political system, with an ultimate goal being universal suffrage. But Beijing has been unwilling to let the territory decide on its own when that should happen.

REUTERS KD KP1923

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