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Meet The 17-Year-Old Leader Of The Hong Kong Protests

Joshua Wong is too young to drive or buy a drink in a bar – let alone vote – yet, as The Guardian reports, has become the face of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and an inspiration to citizens three times his age.

 

 

Via The Guardian:

With his floppy hair, baggy shorts and stripy T-shirt, accessorised with a yellow ribbon around each skinny wrist, the only thing distinguishing the 17-year-old from the other teenagers on Wednesday was the bank of television cameras facing him.

 

Joshua Wong is too young to drive or buy a drink in a bar – let alone vote – yet has become the face of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and an inspiration to citizens three times his age.

 

The co-founder of Scholarism, the student movement which kickstarted the demonstrations, is already a veteran activist. At 15, he battled against plans to introduce “national education”, which critics attacked as pro-Beijing “brainwashing”. Scholarism’s campaign brought more than 100,000 people on to the streets in protest; the proposals were duly shelved and Wong became something of a celebrity. He is probably the first mass protest leader who has had to call a press conference to discuss his exam results (he met university entrance requirements, though he has said in the past: “Teachers have always said my only strength is talking and that I talk very fast.”)

 

But his 40-hour detention from Friday, along with others who stormed into the blocked-off government complex at Admiralty, kickstarted large-scale protests and catapulted him to global attention. The arrests galvanised those previously indifferent to last week’s student protests and sparked the wider civil disobedience movement that has paralysed a large part of downtown Hong Kong.

 

The sudden fascination with Wong’s role is not entirely to his satisfaction. “If a mass movement turns into worshipping a particular person, that’s a great problem,” he warned in 2012, after the campaign against national education. More recently, asked about his own heroes, he stressed: “You don’t need role models to be part of a social movement as long as you care about the issues.”

 

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"He’s so young but so wise that you can’t help but have a lot of time for him … He is every mother’s son – filial, polite, principled, hard-working.”

 

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His greatest success as a campaigner may have been to prove that his role has its limits, because so many more people have been drawn in.

 

“Many citizens have said to me that ‘Hong Kong relies on you’ and some even called me a hero,” he wrote in an essay posted on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

 

“I feel uncomfortable and even irritated when I hear this praise. When you were suffering pepper spray and teargas but decided to stay for the protest despite the repression from the government, I was not able to do anything other than stare at a meal box and the blank walls of the detention room and feel powerless.

 

“The hero of the movement is every single Hong Kong citizen.”

 

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Chinese state media have attacked Scholarism as extremists and a pro-Beijing Hong Kong-based paper claimed that “US forces” had worked to cultivate Wong as a “political superstar” – accusations Wong has dismissed.

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Yeah but how good is he at 'Call of Duty'?