Hong Kong teen democracy activist forms new political party

AP News
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Posted: Apr 10, 2016 1:21 PM
Hong Kong teen democracy activist forms new political party

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong teen activist Joshua Wong on Sunday unveiled a new political party that plans to field candidates in upcoming elections, marking the next step in the pro-democracy movement's evolution in the southern Chinese city.

Wong and several other young activists who led pro-democracy protests that gripped Hong Kong for 79 days in late 2014 said their new party is called Demosisto.

The teenager was the most visible face of the street protests, in which young activists occupied major thoroughfares of the semiautonomous Chinese region to protest Beijing's plan to restrict elections. While the protests fizzled out after Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader refused to make any concessions, they also spawned a new wave of groups with more radical views, including advocating independence from China.

Wong is the group's secretary-general, although at 19 years old he is two years too young to run for a seat in citywide elections for the Legislative Council set for September.

Last month, he announced he was dissolving Scholarism, a protest group he helped found, in order to concentrate on the new party. Scholarism, which comprised mostly high schoolers, was at the forefront of the 2014 protests.

Demosisto's chairman, Nathan Law, said he and two other members of the group are considering contesting seats in the election, which will pit pro-Beijing parties against pro-democracy groups.

Wong said Demosisto's long-term goal is to hold a referendum in a decade to decide whether Hong Kong should have self-determination for its future after 2047, when a 50-year transition period following its handover from Britain to China ends.

"We know we can't achieve self-determination in one single step, so we propose a 10-year timetable for the plan," Wong said, adding that the party would lobby for international support for its cause. "We hope to decide our second future through a universal referendum."