An Interview with Joshua Wong

This 19-year-old started a massive protest movement in Hong Kong — and now the government is putting him on trial

Jonathan Garber / Feb. 28, 2016 /

Jonathan Garber: As you face trial, what’s going through your mind? Are you scared?

Joshua Wong: I’m not scared, because I know that I need to face the trial. What I mean is, I already expect I will need to pay the price for organizing the campaign to regain Civic Square.

Garber: Right now you’re barred from entering mainland China. How do you feel about that? Is there anything you’d like to say to Beijing?

Wong: Beijing wants the new generation, and Hong Kong, to embrace the Communist Party of China, and love the country, and claim ourselves as Chinese. But if they reject us from entering China, how can we love China? That’s the problem. If they continue to refuse and reject our request to enter mainland China, it will only increase the disagreement the new generation has toward the central government of China.

Garber: As a 17-year-old with much to lose, what compelled you to start the movement?

Wong: I organized an anti-national-education movement in 2011 and 2012, and I organized a political-reform movement from 2013 to 2014. With this strategy, what we hope for is to persist on our principles and to fight for what we want, to get one person one vote. To get a chance to organize a direct election and a legislative council and the chief executive election.

Of course we will need to pay the price. I’ve been rejected from entering Malaysia. I’m not able to enter mainland China. For nearly two weeks, I’m not able to go to school. My study plans have been affected by the trial.

I still think that if my contribution or my commitment can motivate more of the people — especially people all over the world, foreigners — to care about Hong Kong, to let people know that Hong Kong is not just a global financial center. It’s also a place with a lot of teens and youth who love freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Garber: To someone from the West who is not familiar with the Umbrella Movement, how do you explain it to them?

Wong: We ended the Umbrella Movement without any concrete positive political results. But after raising the new generation’s political awareness, it’s time for us to bring the voice from the civil society to enter the institution.

That’s why I’m trying to form a political party in two months with Oscar Lai and Agnes Chow from Scholarism [a Hong Kong pro-democracy student-activist group] to fight for self-determination.

Garber: You’re 19 now, and you aren’t eligible to run for office, but you’re going ahead with a new political party. What is it going to look like? Read more…


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