Support for year-long pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong has slipped, now getting the backing of a slim majority, as the city braces for the imposition of Beijing-drafted national security legislation, a survey conducted for Reuters showed.

Protests escalated last June over a since-withdrawn Bill that would have allowed extraditions of defendants to mainland China. They later morphed into a push for greater democracy, often involving violent clashes with the police.

The protests have resumed, but with far fewer participants, since China announced plans for the security law, which has alarmed foreign governments and democracy activists in Hong Kong.

The survey conducted by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute between June 15-18 showed the legislation is opposed by a majority in the financial centre.

But the poll also showed support for protests dropping to 51% from 58% in a previous poll conducted for Reuters in March, while opposition to them rose to 34% from 28%.

“It may be psychological, because Hong Kong people see Beijing is getting more hardline,” said Ming Sing, associate professor of social sciences at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Events on the ground also point to a loss in momentum, with most demonstrations in recent weeks attended only by hundreds and ending quickly. Police, citing coronavirus restrictions, have not given permission for rallies recently and have arrested large numbers of those who turned up anyway.

Pro-democracy labour unions and a student group last week failed to garner enough support to hold strikes against the proposed security legislation.