Double standard: Chinese public opinion on the Hong Kong protests

Dimitar Gueorguiev, Dongshu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on social movements suggests that when protesters use violence, public opinion often turns against them, unless the observers already view the protesters as extremists. This creates what we refer to as an “asymmetric liability,” where by moderate protest movements are held to a higher standard of civility than more extreme ones. Based on a survey experiment surrounding the 2019 protests in Hong Kong, we show that violence undercuts Chinese public sympathy when movements are framed around rights-based agendas but has little impact when protesters are portrayed as separatists. Pairing our survey results alongside media trends offers suggestive evidence that mainland respondents became less sympathetic to anti-government protesters and slightly less sensitive to protest violence as state media began depicting protesters as radical separatists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalConflict Management and Peace Science
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • contentious politics
  • protest
  • public opinion
  • social movements
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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