Joshua Wong, the teenage leader who is the face of the youthful pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, was convicted Thursday of participating in an unlawful assembly that snowballed into a massive sit-in known as the Umbrella Movement. Two fellow youth movement leaders, Alex Chow, 25, and Nathan Law, 23, were also convicted on various charges. Both are former presidents of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which organized the class boycott that led to mass demonstrations in 2014 demanding more direct public participation in the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. For nearly three months, thousands of protesters filled the financial district and other parts of the city demanding democratic reforms in China’s most significant public demonstrations since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
In his black T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, Joshua Wong could be just another Hong Kong high school student. But the 17-year-old has fast become the bête noire of China’s state media — they have called him an extremist and a buffoon in response to his leadership of student protests demanding greater democracy in the former British colony now ruled by China. “Students and youth have more passion and more power to be involved in this movement,” he told NBC News outside Hong’s Kong’s government buildings where he was protesting this week. “Young people expect more change and they dream to have a better political structure for the future.” Hong Kong is now halfway through a week of student strikes — class boycotts — culminating in a planned walk-out Friday by high school students.