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For his commitment to freedom, democracy, and human rights in Hong Kong in the face of ongoing persecution and mistreatment, our 2019 Millennial of the Year is Joshua Wong.
The Chinese regime has turned to increasingly totalitarian methods to maintain its grip on power—from its anti-Muslim concentration camps to its brutal crackdowns on protesters and persecution of human rights activists and their family members to the expansion of its Black Mirror-like “social credit” system. Taking a stand against the regime, which is looking to consolidate its power within China and extend it abroad, requires great courage—the type consistently displayed by Joshua Wong, who has been imprisoned on multiple occasions for his efforts.
Wong first drew headlines as a teenager as a leader of the Umbrella Movement during the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. And in 2019, as over a million people in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest an extradition bill that would further erode Hong Kong’s autonomy, Wong has used his platform to fight against Chinese attempts to discredit the protesters and make Hong Kong more closely resemble authoritarian China. The current movement may be leaderless, but Wong is playing a vital role in this struggle.
It is a perilous time for democracy around the world. Authoritarianism seems resurgent. Millennials must fight back against these troubling trends and take a stand for free democracy. Joshua Wong is already doing that.