Hong Kong has slipped three positions in the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, falling to 88th out of 167 countries and territories.
The Unit released its annual Index on Thursday, which sheds light on trends in democracy globally last year in the shadow of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The average global score in the Democracy Index improved little from 5.28 in 2021 to 5.29, as lifting pandemic restrictions boosted many countries' scores.
Asia's average score of 5.46 is above the global average but has been declining or stagnating for the past six years. Across the region, top scorers include New Zealand (9.61) in second place in the global ranking, Taiwan (10th), Australia (15th), Japan (16th), and South Korea (24th).
Hong Kong's score fell from 5.60 in 2021 to 5.28, reflecting problems with the quality of the civil service and new impediments to organizing independent trade unions, according to the think tank.
The city now ranks lower than Liberia and Tunisia.
Asia's score for political culture fell owing to growing ambivalence about the role of strong leaders and democracy in places such as Hong Kong and South Korea. However, its average score for political participation improved, as citizens in several countries, notably China, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, showed a greater willingness to participate in public protests.
Thailand was the most improved country in the Index, with its score increasing from 6.04 to 6.67, resulting in a rise in the global rankings to 55th from 72nd.
China's score declined from 2.21 to 1.94, reflecting the harsh lockdowns under the country's zero-Covid
policies, which remained in place until December 2022.
"Understandably, all eyes are on Ukraine and its fight for self-determination. However, the Asia region is also subject to conflicting territorial claims and geopolitical flashpoints," editor of the Index report Joan Hoey said. "The challenge for countries in the region is how to navigate old and new threats to sovereignty and maintain a resilient democracy in the long term."
Five of the top six countries were Nordic, with Norway taking out the top spot. Iceland came third, followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark and then Switzerland.