The leading figure of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement Joshua Wong gave a lecture at King’s College London yesterday. His talk was held at the same time as China’s leader Xi Jinping’s lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
19 year-old Joshua delivered an hour-long talk about last year’s Hong Kong demonstrations to an audience of approximately 60 students and guests at the Henriette Raphael Function Room on Guy’s Campus.
— Ryan Chang (@ryanhengchang) October 20, 2015
The city’s protest movement from September to December 2014 directly opposed Beijing’s denial of its rights to universal suffrage. The “one person one vote” democracy is enshrined in the Basic Law, a mini-constitution unique to Hong Kong that also promises freedom of speech and judicial independence.
Instead what Joshua describes as “the ruling class” a group of 1,200 business elites elect Hong Kong’s leaders. When asked to comment on David Cameron and Xi Jinping, Joshua Wong said, “Both Britain and China have betrayed Hong Kong… By keeping silent about a breach of international agreement, Britain has tacitly agreed with China’s authoritarianism.”
“I want to ask both David Cameron and Xi Jinping: What will be Hong Kong’s future? What will happen to our judicial independence, our rule of law, our freedom of speech, our autonomy? You have forced us into a situation where the only option left is civil disobedience.”
Joshua will return to Hong Kong next week following his university tour around the UK. Upon his return he will face court charges for inciting illegal assembly, public obstruction, and contempt of court. If found guilty he will be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison.
Frank Lan, a political refugee from mainland China who sought asylum in the UK last year, came expressly from Newcastle to hear Joshua Wong talk. “Joshua is my inspiration and idol… China needs him. He’s a celebrity for us Mainland Chinese because you will never find anyone like him there. Anyone who speaks out against Xi Jinping’s regime would be locked up immediately,” shared Frank.