Joshua Wong, Hong Kong Christian Student Leading Protest, Will Continue to Fight for Democracy

( [email protected] ) Oct 08, 2014 02:57 PM EDT
Joshua Wong
Joshua Wong has been called the face of #occupycentral

A Protestant Christian student who is one of the leading activists in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong recently said he will continue to fight against Bejiing despite opposition.

"Let's bring our clothes, tents and mattresses here," Joshua Wong urged fellow protesters Tuesday at one of Hong Kong's main protest sites. "We shall gather here and work here."

The 17-year-old also encouraged the international community to join him and thousands of others in the fight for democracy "give us more chance to get the result of universal suffrage," he said.

Wong, who unabashedly identifies as a Christian on his social media accounts, says religion was a primary driving force behind his activism.

Born into a middle-class Christian family and educated at United Christian College (Kowloon East), a private Christian middle school,  Wong's father started taking him into the poorer areas of Hong Kong when he was a young child.

"He told me that I should care for the abandoned in the city. They had not heard of the gospel, and were living solitary and hard lives," he wrote in a blog, according to the South China Morning Post.

His passion for positive change is impressive; since founding a student movement called Scholarism in 2011 when he was 14, he has published a book called I am not a Hero,hosts a radio programme, writes a column, and does interviews.

On Sept. 26 evening, Wong's cry "Occupy Civic Plaza" motivated hundreds of students to storm into the square next to the Central Government building. After entering the plaza by climbing a fence, Wong was immediately handcuffed and dragged away. His two-day detention prompted the Occupy Central to take place earlier than planned--and only increased Wong's fervor. 

"We firmly believe that fighting for democracy is to change the impossible to the possible. We make history; we do things they could not predict," he said.

On Tuesday night, an announcement that student leaders and the government had agreed on formal talks on Friday brought hope to demonstrators that a resolution could be near.

However, on Wednesday, the government made it known that protesters' core demands - full universal suffrage for Hong Kong and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying - would not be discussed.

"I don't believe after Friday's meeting [China's Communist Party] will say 'Oh, we'll give you everything you want'," Wong said. "We need to be persistent.

"Political reform is the core problem for every issue," says Wong. "Everyone knows that under the Chinese Communist party, there is a lack of possibility to fight [for] true universal suffrage in the end . . . but students should stand on the front line in every century," he says 

Despite the extreme criticism he has faced from Beijing's government, Wong remains optimistic.

"I don't think our battle is going to be very long," he told CNN. "If you have the mentality that striving for democracy is a long, drawn-out war and you take it slowly, you will never achieve it.

"You have to see every battle as possibly the final battle - only then will you have the determination to fight."