Chinese tourists visit a popular waterfront promenade in Hong Kong.

Chinese tourists visit a popular waterfront promenade in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP

Negative feelings in Hong Kong towards mainland Chinese are at their highest for some years, while sentiment about Japanese people remains comparatively warm, a poll shows.

The Hong Kong University survey conducted in November showed 31.8 percent of Hong Kong people have "negative" feelings for people from mainland China.

The same survey in May put the figure at 35.6 percent, meaning the average figure for this year was the highest since the exercise began in 2007.

Hong Kong, a former British colony whose population is overwhelmingly ethnic Chinese, became a semi-autonomous region of China in 1997.

Mainland tourists or residents are an important source of revenue for Hong Kong. But they are also seen as straining the city's resources and pushing up prices of items ranging from baby formula to property.

Hong Kong people also complain about what they see as the unrefined social habits of their "nouveau-riche" mainland counterparts.

More than 1000 people were interviewed by phone for the survey.

Only 14.9 per cent of those questioned in Hong Kong, which was under harsh Japanese occupation during World War II, harboured negative feelings toward Japanese people in the second half of the year.

However negative feelings towards the Japanese government reached a high point this year -- more than 63 per cent in the second half of the year, and 58.8 percent in the first half.

A dispute between China and Japan over East China Sea islands has intensified in the past year, fuelling hostility towards the Tokyo government on the mainland and in other Chinese societies.

AFP