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Photo via FT

Joshua Wong

Secretary General



Secretary General




Hong Kong


27 years






What makes Joshua Wong a Global Shaker?

23-year-old Joshua Wong Chi-Fung is a Hong Kong student activist and politician who serves as secretary-general of pro-democracy party Demosistō.

He is also the “poster boy” for the raging Hong Kong protests.

As a child with dyslexia, Wong had reading and writing difficulties but with the help of his supportive mother, he overcame these obstacles and enrolled in a Political Science and Public Administration degree at an open university.

He was already into activism by age 14 — demonstrating against plans to build a high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and the mainland. Two years later he set up the government challenging pro-democracy student activist group, Scholarism and started to build a large and loyal group of followers on home turf.

In 2012 he rallied more than 100,000 people — some of whom went on a hunger strike — to protest against Hong Kong’s plans to implement mandatory “patriotic education” in schools. Faced with the pressure, the then-Chief Executive CY Leung was forced to abandon the idea.

The young activist first rose to international prominence during the 2014 Hong Kong protests for his pivotal role in the Umbrella Movement.

Its name came from the use of umbrellas as a tool for passive resistance to the Hong Kong Police’s use of pepper spray to disperse the crowd during a 79-day occupation of the city demanding more transparent elections, which was sparked by the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) of 31 August 2014 that prescribed a selective pre-screening of candidates for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s chief executive.

His fearless activism and ability to rouse others to protest resulted in his inclusion in TIME magazine’s Most Influential Teens of 2014 and nomination for its 2014 Person of the Year and was later called one of the “world’s greatest leaders” by Fortune magazine in 2015, and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

His role in the Umbrella Movement eventually landed him in jail — twice.

He was released in June 2019 — just in time to join the 2019 protests in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

Wong has emerged as an inspiring example of the power of youth and is said to have played a major role in persuading US politicians to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act during the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

Likely terrified of the power Wong wields, the Hong Kong government disqualified him from running in forthcoming District Council elections.

On February 18, 2020, Wong published Unfree Speech — a memoir and an “urgent manifesto for global democracy.”

Tags: Activism, china, Government and Politics, Hong Kong, protests

Last updated: February 24, 2020