Meet the Millennial Dissident Fighting For Democracy in Hong Kong

Talking power and protests with Nathan Law

Hong Kong Protests
Members of pro-democracy party Demosisto (L-R) Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow speak to the media after Chief Executive Carrie Lam held a press conference in Hong Kong on June 18, 2019.
By Tobias Carroll / August 10, 2019 11:52 am

Nathan Law is 26 years old. Over the course of his life, he has founded a political party, been elected to office and spent time in jail for his activity in pro-democracy protests. Law is a resident of Hong Kong, and his commitment to the region’s self-determination has put him at odds with the Chinese government — and made him an inspiring figure to many both in Hong Kong and around the world. 

A new Wall Street Journal interview with Law traces the evolution of his politics, and explores the ramifications of his actions on both a local and a global scale. 

According to the interview, Law first grew interested in politics after hearing his high school principal denounce Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. 

Law took part in 2014’s Umbrella Movement protests, for which he was briefly detained. The Guardian summarized the protestors’ viewpoint as follows: “They claim that Beijing reneged on an agreement to grant them open elections by 2017, and demand ‘true universal suffrage’.”

From there, Law was one of the founders of the pro-democracy party Demosistō, and was elected to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council in 2016. This didn’t last long: his commitment to democracy resulted in his being unseated by the government and jailed for two months. Now, Law is preparing to spend time abroad: he’ll be studying at Yale beginning later this month.

This interview with Law occurs at a time when tensions between Hong Kong and the government in Beijing remain high. The city again erupted with protests earlier this summer. Whether Hong Kong will be able to govern itself is still a hotly-debated question — and one that will have implications on a global scale.

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