Bio: Joshua Wong

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Joshua Wong Chi-fung
Joshua Wong in 2019
Secretary-General of Demosistō
In office
10 April 2016 – 30 June 2020
DeputyAgnes Chow
Kwok Hei-yiu
Chan Kok-hin
ChairmanNathan Law
Ivan Lam
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byParty dissolved
Convenor of Scholarism
In office
29 May 2011 – 20 March 2016
DeputyAgnes Chow
Ivan Lam
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byMerge into Demosistō
Personal details
BornWong Chi-fung
13 October 1996 (age 24)
British Hong Kong
Political partyDemosistō (2016–2020)
Other political
Scholarism (2012-2016)
ResidenceHong Kong
EducationOpen University of Hong Kong
Alma materUnited Christian College (Kowloon East)
political activist
Known forOutspoken advocacy for democratic reform in Hong Kong
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese黃之鋒
Simplified Chinese黄之锋

Joshua Wong Chi-fung (Chinese: 黃之鋒; Cantonese YaleWòhng Jīfūng, born 13 October 1996)[1] is a Hong Kong activist and politician. He served as secretary-general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō until it disbanded following the implementation of the Hong Kong national security law on 30 June 2020. Wong was previously convenor and founder of the Hong Kong student activist group Scholarism.[2][3] Wong first rose to international prominence during the 2014 Hong Kong protests, and his pivotal role in the Umbrella Movement resulted in his inclusion in TIME magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2014 and nomination for its 2014 Person of the Year;[4] he was further called one of the “world’s greatest leaders” by Fortune magazine in 2015,[5][6] and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

In August 2017, Wong and two other democracy activists were convicted and jailed for their roles in the occupation of Civic Square at the incipient stage of the 2014 Occupy Central protests; in January 2018, Wong was convicted and jailed again for failing to comply with a court order for clearance of the Mong Kok protest site during the Hong Kong protests in 2014. He also played a major role in persuading US politicians to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act during the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests. Wong was disqualified by the Hong Kong government from running in forthcoming District Council elections. In June 2020, he announced he would be running for a Legislative Council seat in the upcoming election,[7] and officially applied on 20 July 2020,[8] before his nomination was invalidated on 30 July 2020 along with that of 11 other pro-democracy figures.[9] In December 2020, Wong was convicted and jailed for the third time over an unauthorised protest outside police headquarters in June 2019.[10][11]

Early life and education

Joshua Wong was born in Hong Kong on 13 October 1996, and was diagnosed with dyslexia in early childhood.[12][13] The son of middle-class couple Grace and Roger Wong,[14] Wong was raised as a Protestant Christian in the Lutheran tradition.[15][16] His social awareness stems from his father, a retired IT professional,[17] who was a convener of a local anti-gay marriage initiative,[18][19][20] and often took him as a child to visit the underprivileged.[21][22]

Wong studied at the United Christian College (Kowloon East),[23] a private Christian secondary school in Kowloon, and developed organisational and speaking skills through involvement in church groups.[24] Wong subsequently pursued undergraduate studies at the Open University of Hong Kong, having enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in political studies and public administration.[25][26] Due to his political activities, he took study leave from his studies, and has reportedly remained a student as of 2019.[27]

Student activism (2010–2016)

Early activism

Wong led a protest against Moral and national education in 2012

The 2010 anti-high speed rail protests were the first political protests in which Wong took part.[28]

On 29 May 2011, Wong and schoolmate Ivan Lam Long-yin established Scholarism, a student activist group.[29] The group began with simple means of protest, such as the distribution of leaflets against the newly announced moral and national education (MNE) curriculum.[24][30] In time, however, Wong’s group grew in both size and influence, and in 2012 managed to organise a political rally attended by over 100,000 people.[24] Wong received widespread attention as the group’s convenor.[31]

Role in 2014 Hong Kong protests

Main article: 2014 Hong Kong protests

Wong giving an interview in October 2014, during the Umbrella Movement

In June 2014, Scholarism drafted a plan to reform Hong Kong’s electoral system to push for universal suffrage, under one country, two systems. His group strongly advocated for the inclusion of civic nomination in the 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive election.[28] Wong as a student leader started a class boycott among Hong Kong’s students to send a pro-democracy message to Beijing.[32]

On 27 September 2014, Wong was one of the 78 people arrested by the police during a massive pro-democracy protest,[33] after hundreds of students occupied Civic Square in front of the Central Government Complex as a sign of protest against Beijing’s decision on the 2014 Hong Kong electoral reform.[34][32] Unlike fellow protesters, only in response to a court order obtained by writ of habeas corpus was Wong released by police, after 46 hours in custody.[35][36]

During the protests, Wong stated: “Among all the people in Hong Kong, there is only one person who can decide whether the current movement will last and he is [Chief Executive of the region] Leung. If Leung can accept our demands … (the) movement will naturally come to an end.”[37] On 25 September 2014 the state-owned Wen Wei Po published an article which claimed that “US forces” had worked to cultivate Wong as a “political superstar”.[38][39] Wong in turn denied every detail in the report through a statement that he subsequently posted online.[39] Wong also said that he was mentioned by name in mainland China’s Blue Paper on National Security, which identified internal threats to the stability of Communist Party rule; quoting a line in V for Vendetta, he in turn said that “People should not be afraid of their government, the government should be afraid of their people.”[32]

Wong was charged on 27 November 2014 with obstructing a bailiff clearing one of Hong Kong’s three protest areas. His lawyer described the charge as politically motivated.[4][40] He was banned from a large part of Mong Kok, one of the protester-occupied sites, as one of the bail conditions.[41] Wong claimed that police beat him and tried to injure his groin as he was arrested, and taunted and swore at him while he was in custody.[42]

After Wong’s appearance at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court on 27 November 2014, he was pelted with eggs by two assailants.[43] They were arrested and each fined $3,000 in August 2015, sentences which, on application for review by the prosecution, were subsequently enhanced to two weeks’ imprisonment.[44][45]

On 2 December 2014, Wong and two other students began an indefinite hunger strike to demand renewed talks with the Hong Kong government. He decided to end the hunger strike after four days on medical advice.[46]

Aftermath of the Occupy protests

Wong was arrested and held for three hours on Friday, 16 January 2015, for his alleged involvement in offences of calling for, inciting and participating in an unauthorized assembly.[47]

The same month, an article appeared in the Pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po alleging that Wong had met with the US consul-general in Hong Kong Stephen M. Young during the latter’s visit in 2011. It suggested that Wong had links with the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States, which had supposedly offered him military training by the US Army. Wong responded that the claims were pure fiction and “more like jokes.”[48]

Wong was denied entry into Malaysia at Penang International Airport, on 26 May 2015, on the basis that he was considered “a threat to Malaysia’s ties with China”, largely due to his supposed “anti-China” stance in participating in the 2014 Hong Kong protests.[49]

On 28 June 2015, two days before a protest in favour of democracy, Wong and his girlfriend were attacked by an unknown man after watching a film in Mong Kok. The assault sent the two to hospital. Wong sustained injuries to his nose and eyes.[50] No one was arrested.[51][52][53][54]

On 19 August 2015, Wong was formally charged by the Hong Kong Department of Justice with inciting other people to join an unlawful assembly and also joining an unlawful assembly, alongside Alex Chow, the former leader of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.[55][56]

While traveling to Taiwan for a political seminar, “pro-China” protesters attempted to assault Wong at the arrival hall of Taoyuan‘s Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, necessitating police protection. It was later found that local gangsters were involved.[57][58]

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