On two different global charts for democracy and freedom, Hong Kong’s position dropped three spots, falling to 88th in a democracy ranking (behind Ukraine and Libya) and to 34th in a freedom index.
According to The Economist’s democracy index, Hong Kong’s civil service has lost personnel as a result of deteriorating political climate and dwindling liberties, while the national security law has made it difficult for unions to form.
Based on data from 2020, the most recent year, and the year when Beijing passed the Hong Kong national security law, the Fraser Institute’s freedom index, which measures personal and economic freedom, ranks Hong Kong as the 34th most free country in the world out of 165.
The degree of freedom is based on 83 distinct indicators, which shows Hong Kong’s “most pronounced declines” were in the aspects of rule of law, freedom of expression and assembly.
Hong Kong ranked 78th in freedom of expression and 140th in freedom of association and assembly.
The institute attributed the plunge in freedom from third place in 2010, down to 34th in 2020 to Beijing’s “escalating violations of Hong Kong’s traditional liberties.”
Regarding personal freedom, Hong Kong scored 4.1 on a 10-point scale down from 4.9 in 2019, while rule of law dropped from 6.7 to 6.2 compared to the previous year.
US funded non-profit Freedom House rated Hong Kong’s press freedom at 5 out of 10. “Given ongoing attacks on freedom in Hong Kong, we will be surprised if future reports do not show a continuing and pronounced degradation in the territory’s ratings, including a noticeable decline in economic freedom,” the institute said.
The SAR government spokesman dismissed the freedom index, saying it “incorrectly described” Hong Kong’s situation, pointing to its top ranking in economic freedom.
The spokesman said that the national security law stipulates that human rights should be respected and protected, while safeguarding national security, and that the government will continue to “protect the rights and freedoms of the public”.
Separately, Hong Kong was placed 88th in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2022 Democracy Index.
With a government rating of 3.29 and an election process rating of 2.75, Hong Kong achieved an overall score of 5.28 out of 10.
Another factor that reduced the quality of its civil service in 2022 during a time of declining freedom was the departure of experienced employees.
The unit reported that Hong Kong’s score dropped significantly from its peak of 6.50 in 2015. “These setbacks come on top of the erosion of media and academic freedoms that has occurred in recent years.”