Hong Kong Ranks 41 From Bottom in Latest Global Democracy Report

The V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, recently published the “Democracy Report 2023”, which ranked Hong Kong’s Liberal Democracy Index from 123rd last year to 139th worldwide, 41st, Counted from below, a score within the 20 to 30 percent of countries and regions considered the most undemocratic. China’s ranking remains unchanged at 172 in the world, eighth from the bottom. The last five countries are North Korea, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Chad and Syria.

The theme of this year’s report is “Despite Autocratization”. It is the seventh report published by the research group. It analyzed data from 202 countries and regions around the world (180 ranked), involving 4,000 scientists. Overall, the level of democracy around the world has declined over the past 35 years, returning on average to 1986 levels. By 2022, 72 percent of the world’s population, a total of 5.7 billion people, lived in authoritarian states. Asia-Pacific has returned to 1978 levels, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean even to the end of the Cold War.

The number of countries advancing on the road to democratization has fallen to 14, accounting for just 2 percent of the world’s population, the lowest since 1973. On the contrary, the number of authoritarian countries has risen to 42 from 33 last year, which equates to 43 percent of the world’s population from the previous 36 percent, a record high.

Hong Kong’s electoral democracy ranked 18th from the bottom

In terms of the Liberal Democracy Index, Denmark jumped from No. 2 to No. 1 in the world last year, while Sweden fell from No. 1 to No. 2 and Norway ranked No. 3 for two consecutive years. In Asia, the top 3 this year are Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, while last year they were in the order of South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

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Hong Kong fell from 123 last year to 139 this year and was even named as one of nine countries and regions in Asia where democratization had declined significantly.” The nine (in alphabetical order) are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia , Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. Hong Kong’s Freedom and Democracy Index fell from around 0.3 points in 2012 to 0.12 points in 2022 and was ranked among the 20 to 30 percent of countries and regions with the lowest degrees of democracy and one of the “closed autocracies”. classified. Regions with a score close to Vietnam, Egypt, Turkiye, Rwanda and the like.

In terms of the Electoral Democracy Index, Hong Kong has fallen sharply from 134th in the world last year to 162nd this year, which ranks 18th lowest in the world. The three countries with the highest scores in the world are, in order, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden.

Media censorship by the Hong Kong government is rapidly deteriorating

This year’s report specifically mentions that state media censorship has deteriorated the most over the past decade in Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Poland, El Salador and Mauritius. In Hong Kong, the level of “government disinformation” has risen from around 2.5 points in 2012 to 3.5 points in 2022. This is a value comparable to that of Myanmar, Cambodia and North Korea.

The level of “political polarization” also increased from about 2.3 points in 2012 to 3.9 points in 2022, a value quite close to that of Myanmar and Belarus.

In terms of the Academic Freedom Index, Hong Kong has fallen sharply from around 0.7 points in 2012 to around 0.25 points in 2022, and its score is close to that of Russia, Thailand and Yemen. The report specifically mentions that academic freedom has been violated worldwide, affecting more than half of the world’s population, approximately four billion people. Only five countries in the world are improving academic freedom, which affects just 0.7 percent of the population. The situation in the Asia-Pacific region is particularly bad. These include Hong Kong, Afghanistan, China and India.

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China’s ranking remains 8th from the bottom

In mainland China, the Freedom and Democracy Index ranking remains unchanged, ranking 172nd in the world, or 8th from below, for two consecutive years, and is ranked as one of the ten percent of countries with the lowest degrees of democracy in the world. Its score matches that of Belarus, Turkmenistan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The report specifically mentions that China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Iran are the four closed authoritarian countries, accounting for about 28 percent of the world’s population with a total of 2.2 billion people. In contrast, 58 “electoral democracy” countries account for just 16 percent of the world’s population, while 33 “liberal democracy” countries account for just another 13 percent of the world’s population.

The study also found that the economic influence of autocratic countries has greatly increased. With the economic development of autocratic countries, China and other such countries accounted for about 46 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022, down from 24 percent in 1992. Over the same period, China’s share of global GDP rose from 4.4 percent in 1992 to 18.5 percent in 2022. Trade between democracies fell from 74 percent of the world in 1998 to 47 percent in 2022. Democracies are becoming increasingly dependent on imports and exports to and from authoritarian countries.

Several reports point to deteriorating conditions in Hong Kong

In February 2023, an American think tank, the Cato Institute, and its Canadian counterpart, the Fraser Institute, released the Human Freedom Index 2022, and Hong Kong’s ranking fell from world number one in 2016 to number 34 in 2022 with the Ranking Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly fell to 78th and 140th, respectively. The report criticized the CCP’s implementation of the “National Security Law” in 2020, which violated “one country, two systems” and ended Hong Kong’s autonomy.

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On February 8th, ECA International, a recruitment agency, announced the ranking of the world’s most livable cities. Hong Kong dropped 15 places to 92nd in 2022 from 2021. The implementation of the “National Security Law” is one of the main reasons for the decline in the ranking.

On March 6, in its review report, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights issued the conclusion of its fourth report on Hong Kong, referring to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and citing the national security Hong Kong law effectively abolished Hong Kong’s judicial independence. She called on the CCP and the Hong Kong government to review the contents of the “National Security Law” to ensure Hong Kong’s full judicial independence and not to use this law at will to interfere with the independence of the judiciary.


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