Hong Kong activism blossoms into region council positions for young locals
Several young people from Hong Kong have landed seats on the Hong Kong Council as the newest generation of politicians and lawmakers in the region. On Sunday, Sept. 4, four individuals, who each have a strong passion for activism, rose to further prominence, striking a chord with the country’s voters through their commitments to change for the country.
The Umbrella Movement, characterized by the carrying of yellow umbrellas in a street occupation, was a series of democratic protests that stood against China and its efforts to control the country through its communist system. It took place in 2014 and, while it did not achieve its ultimate goal of universal suffrage (or the right for all adults to vote) and other facets of democracy, local activists have nevertheless made strides in their efforts to stand up and allow the voices of Hong Kong to be heard.
Following are the four individuals who won the seats.
1. Nathan Law: The 23-year-old was a leader of the Umbrella Movement two years ago. Law became involved with politics over the course of his undergraduate majoring in Cultural Studies, eventually founding a political party called Demosisto. A major policy of Demosisto is to organize a referendum for Hong Kong’s future after 2047.
2. Sixtus “Baggio” Leung: Nicknamed after his favorite footballer Roberto Baggio, Leung took to the streets with thousands of other students in the Umbrella Movement protests. Having been engaged in politics at university, Leung founded the localist party Youngspiration after the movement. Central to his opinion that Hong Kong should be independent is the belief that Hong Kong and China are fundamentally different in cultures, languages and economic systems.
3. Yau Wai-ching: Wai-ching first got into politics as the Umbrella Movement gained traction. She then joined Youngspiration after the movement ended. She openly pushes for Hong Kong’s independence and the right of its citizens to self-determination. Wai-ching is also the youngest woman to serve in Hong Kong’s legislature at only 25.
4. Cheng Chung-tai: The oldest of the four individuals, Chung-tai is a university scholar and the leader of localist group Civic Passion, a party which campaigns for the removal of government facets that may allow China to exert power over Hong Kong. He has also been controversial at times with accusations of public order disruption directed against him.
The four young people elected to office are today seeking to learn from and look past the Umbrella Movement, continuing their work to build and secure a democracy for Hong Kong. Considering the strength of China as a whole, a difficult task may lie ahead of them.
Wai-ching feels optimistic, though. “I believe that, one day, our sweat and blood today will bear fruits,” she said last month.