While the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 68th anniversary last October 1st, 4,300 protesting Hong Kongers flooded the streets, fighting for the release of “political prisoners.” Among these were Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow, leaders of the Umbrella Movement in 2014. The number of recent prosecution cases of protesters has been the highest number in Hong Kong’s history. As CNN stated, there were “39 documented cases against 26 pro-democracy leaders and activists since the protests, of which 21 are still ongoing.” The remains of the Umbrella Movement face major setbacks as their leaders serve their sentences and the government tightens its regulations on political expression and protests.
Wang Zhimin, Beijing’s chief representative, stated that the Chinese government had “zero tolerance” for protests supporting Hong Kong’s independence. He said that the idea had no place in China, let alone the world. Both the US and the UK have concerns over the conflicts in Hong Kong, but the risking economic ties to China outweighs the issues.
Joshua Wong, currently imprisoned, thinks differently. He is hopeful, even as the number of active protesters declines and the total emigration increases. He wrote from prison, “being locked up is an inevitable part of our long, exhausting path to democracy.”
The imprisonment of the leaders is certainly a setback for the movement, but the ongoing protests are still showing promise for stronger opposition.