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Netflix’s New Documentary Shows Us That the Fight For Democracy in Hong Kong Still Has a Long Way To Go

Netflix has released a new documentary titled ‘Joshua: Teenager vs Super power’. The documentary follows Joshua’s fight against nationalism and the Chinese government. Joshua Wong is a 20-year-old activist from Hong Kong. He was named one of TIME’s Most Influential Teens of 2014 as well as being nominated for TIME’s Person of the Year 2014. Joshua was even named one of the world’s greatest leaders by Fortune in 2015. So what has Joshua done to deserve all this attention?

Joshua is one of the co-founders of ‘Scholarism’, a student protest group fighting against the pro-china “National Education” programme. Joshua was one of the most important figures in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy “Umbrella Revolution”. Umbrellas were used to protect protestors from the police’s pepper spray, causing it to be nicknamed the Umbrella Movement.

In Sept. 2014, Joshua was arrested while protesting after China went back on a promise it made in the agreement to allow Hong Kong to choose its next leader. Hong Kong was under British rule until 1997 when the United Kingdom transferred the power over to China. Because the people of Hong Kong were under British rule for so long, they were used to their way of living. So China agreed to the One country, Two systems rule. Meaning that Hong Kong could continue living in a capitalist society, they were allowed to have freedom of the press and the right to elect their own leader. But China would continue to be a communist state and promised to not interfere in Hong Kong’s system.

In 2012, China announced a new public education system, “National Education.” Joshua, as well as many other students in Hong Kong, saw this as the next step of communist China taking over Hong Kong. In Joshua’s documentary, Steve Tsang, the author of “A Modern History of Hong Kong” says that the Chinese government introduced this education program because they started to see Hong Kong’s youth “thinking and behaving in ways that are unpatriotic.”

The new education system would push nationalism and support for China and the communist party. Joshua and his peers saw this as an attack against freedom of thought and freedom of speech. Which is why he founded Scholarism when he was only 14 years old. In 30 years, the One country, Two systems agreement will expire in 30 years. Joshua founded a new political party, Desmosisto, which is calling for a referendum to decide who will rule Hong Kong after the policy expires.

Joshua described the support for his new documentary as “unbelievable”. The film was awarded the audience prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Joshua has been denied entry into Malaysia and Thailand, he’s been attacked by pro-china protesters in Taiwan but he hasn’t let it affect him and his fight for democracy. “We didn’t win in the last battle,” Joshua told The Business Times, “but I’m still optimistic for winning in the final war”.

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Yara is an aspiring journalist that's passionate about politics and social justice issues.

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