Hong Kong election: who are the young activists elected to the council?

by Tom Phillips in Beijing and Eric Cheung in Hong Kong / Sept 5, 2016/ The Guardian

Nathan Law, 23, Demosisto

Law shot to fame as one of the leaders of the 2014 umbrella movement, a 79-day street occupation that was designed, but ultimately failed, to extract democratic concessions from Beijing.

He became involved in student politics while taking a degree in cultural studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. Following the umbrella protests he became secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.

In April Law founded a new political party called Demosisto, which has vowed to claw democracy from China’s communist rulers. The party has also called for a referendum on Hong Kong’s future after 2047,when the “one country, two systems” model under which it has been ruled since handover expires.

Other founding members include Joshua Wong, 19, the bespectacled student activist who was the most recognisable face of the umbrella movement.

Law, who will become the youngest lawmaker in Hong Kong’s history, escaped a jail term in August for his alleged role in inciting a protest that helped launch the unprecedented 2014 protests.

“Hong Kong people are very frustrated because they cannot gain what they were promised before handover, which is genuine universal suffrage,” the young politician told local broadcaster RTHK earlier this year. “We have to find a way out and self-determination is the one.”

Sixtus ‘Baggio’ Leung, 30, Youngspiration

Leung, a pro-independence activist who is nicknamed after his favourite childhood footballer, the Italian striker Roberto Baggio, also became engaged in politics while at university.

He was president of the students’ union at City University in Hong Kong and was one of tens of thousands of students who took to the streets during the 2014 umbrella movement protests.

In January 2015, just a month after police extinguished those demonstrations, Leung helped found Youngspiration, a “localist” party which is part of a movement committed to protecting Hong Kong’s way of life from what it sees as growing mainland influence.

Speaking on the eve of Sunday’s election, Leung said the umbrella movement’s “failure” had convinced him and other participants that only a radical break with Beijing could guarantee Hong Kong’s political freedom for generations to come. “‘One country, two systems is not the way to go’,” he said.

Asked what his vision for Hong Kong’s future was, Leung replied: “Independent.”
Like many of Hong Kong’s young localist activists, Leung said he considered himself a citizen of Hong Kong, not China. “We think that Hong Kong people are somehow different from other nations, like [the] Chinese. We have different cultures, we have different languages, we have different currencies, and our economic system is different from theirs.”

Yau Wai-ching, 25, Youngspiration

Yau, another key Youngspiration member, received more than 20,000 votes and will be the youngest woman ever to serve as lawmaker in Hong Kong’s legislature. Read more…


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