Prominent student leader Joshua Wong has talked about his involvement in Hong Kong’s struggle for greater democracy at the Creative Time Summit in Venice, an annual conference where artists and activists present strategies for social change.
Wong, co-founder of student activist group Scholarism, gave a 12-minute speech on Tuesday sharing his experience in protests against the controversial national education curriculum as well as last year’s pro-democracy Occupy movement.
The 18-year-old activist concluded that the Occupy protests yielded “no positive outcome.” Instead, the pro-Beijing camp launched an attack on supporters for democracy following the end of the movement.
Wong gave a smear campaign against him as an example. He said that “some pro-Beijing newspapers” had accused him of being a “CIA agent” as well as saying he had received “US military training.”
He told the audience that he would be going to court soon as he currently faces charges of contempt of court, inciting illegal assembly and obstructing police officers. He said that he might go to jail at the end of the year.
Wong said that it is an immense challenge for Hong Kong activists to fight for direct elections and greater democracy, because no country had ever managed to implement universal suffrage under the rule of a communist party.
But Wong remained optimistic and closed his speech with a positive note. “I’m just 18 years old. Of course I could not promise that I will continue fighting [on] the front line until 50 or 80 years old… In the future, we can win the war.”
He added that politics is not owned by “old people above 50 years old” and encouraged youngsters across the world to stand up against the ruling class.
He cited his op-ed for the New York Times: “I would like to remind every member of the ruling class in Hong Kong: Today you are depriving us of our future, but the day will come when we decide your future. No matter what happens to the protest movement, we will reclaim the democracy that belongs to us, because time is on our side.”