67.4% of Hong Kong residents polled say protesters should leave streets as support wanes

A man does exercise on a static bike inside the Occupy Camp set up by pro-democracy protesters in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong on Nov 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A man does exercise on a static bike inside the Occupy Camp set up by pro-democracy protesters in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong on Nov 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (Reuters) - 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. The survey involved 1,030 Cantonese-speaking residents between Nov 5 and Nov 11.

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

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 per cent of those surveyed felt the government's response had been inadequate and nearly half - 48.5 per cent - said the government needed to make concessions.

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 colourful tents at key intersections on both sides of the harbour.

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.