Nonetheless, his coronary heart sank on a windless August morning when his son paused on the door to kiss him. That was the day the courtroom sentenced Joshua to 6 months in jail for illegal meeting, in connection together with his position, at age 17, in main the 2014 demonstrations later generally known as the Umbrella Revolution.
“He had not completed that since he was a bit of boy,” stated Mr. Wong, fifty three, a former pc skilled who now trades on-line.
The youngest of the three jailed activists, his son emerged because the worldwide face of the opposition, even being featured in a Netflix documentary, “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower.”
However Mr. Wong stated he wakes every day ready to see headlines blaring extra dangerous information. To keep away from the sidelong glances or adulation of strangers, he and his spouse, Grace Ng, a homemaker, not say their son’s identify in public, even when talking about him with one another.
Mr. Wong, who identifies as a religious Christian, stated the worst type of consideration got here from fellow believers. “The best strain has come from Christians who out of nowhere provided to wish for my son to ‘repent of his sin,’” he stated, including that such remarks got here from buddies pricey to him.
He stated he helps his son’s professional-democracy activism, saying Joshua Wong discovered his sense of mission from his spiritual upbringing.
The truth is, Mr. Wong stated, his son was as soon as an outspoken Christian, too, however now retains his spiritual views out of the general public eye. And variations over the position of religion in public coverage have develop into a supply of rigidity between them.
The 2 clashed over same-sex marriage, which Hong Kong doesn’t permit. His son helps it, however Mr. Wong has organized protests towards it and referred to as for eradicating rainbow-colored lion statues that have been erected in Hong Kong in help of LGBT rights.
Even now, the emotions could also be a bit uncooked. Requested about their dispute, Mr. Wong threatened to chop brief the interview.
He prefers to speak about one other second. After his son kissed him and his spouse goodbye, he apologized. “I’m sorry that I put a lot strain on you,” Mr. Wong recalled his son saying.
Helen Ngai had totally different hopes for her son, Alex Chow. Having helped construct a prospering household enterprise, she needed her youngsters to take pleasure in a lifetime of consolation and standing. She urged Alex Chow, the older of her two sons, to grow to be a college professor.
This fall, he was imagined to go to the College of California, Berkeley, to pursue a doctorate in geography.
As an alternative, he went to jail.
“I want my son had not taken this path,” Ms. Ngai, fifty eight, stated in an interview in a stylishly furnished house in Hong Kong, certainly one of many properties that she and her husband personal around the globe, together with in Queens.
“I’m only a egocentric individual. All I care about is creating wealth,” she stated. “Many in Hong Kong are egocentric individuals. Why achieve this a lot for them?”
She stated she was puzzled when her son volunteered in highschool to counsel underperforming college students. She couldn’t perceive the guilt that he confessed to her over dwelling in an enormous condo. She ridiculed him for contemplating a job at Greenpeace that may have paid $38,000 per yr.
“Is that even sufficient for meals and housing?” she recalled difficult him.
The Umbrella Revolution uncovered such era gaps amongst Hong Kong’s 7.2 million individuals. Whereas these underneath age forty overwhelmingly supported the protesters, individuals above that age have been extra crucial, in accordance with a Chinese language College survey.
“I all the time inform my son, we should not oppose the nation or the social gathering as a result of, on the finish of the day, we’re Chinese language individuals,” Ms. Ngai stated.
She and her husband are the kind of success story that has helped make Hong Kong one of many world’s wealthiest cities. Their garment enterprise has factories throughout South Asia. The 2 journey so typically that Ms. Ngai stated her son was primarily “raised by maids.”
Ms. Ngai additionally cashed in on Hong Kong’s supercharged housing market, flipping flats for income. This put her at odds together with her son, who accused her of driving up rents for working households.
“It’s egocentric individuals such as you who’re holding again society,” she recalled her son accusing her.
“If I hadn’t, would you will have such an enormous condominium?” Ms. Ngai retorted.
“I might relatively stay in sponsored housing,” her son replied.
“We by no means needed to fear an excessive amount of about cash,” she stated. “That’s why for him it’s all about justice and different individuals’s misfortunes.”
The primary time she visited her son in jail, she cried so arduous she might hardly converse. In an try and cheer her up, Alex Chow stated jail had given him a brand new trigger: advocating higher circumstances for inmates and jail staff.
“I advised him to not meddle in different individuals’s affairs,” she stated, “however he stated that what’s incorrect have to be set proper.”
On the night time when protesters stormed authorities headquarters, Lam So-lan was throughout Hong Kong’s picturesque harbor attending a relative’s wedding ceremony.
She thought her son, Nathan Regulation, then 21, was again in his school dormitory.
She was surprised when somebody switched on a tv, and there he was rallying demonstrators.
“I knew he was in massive hassle the second he picked up the microphone,” stated Ms. Lam, who had warned her son towards getting concerned in politics. “They all the time go for the leaders.”
Ms. Lam, fifty five, stated she simply needed Mr. Regulation to give attention to his research. Born poor in China’s southeastern province of Guangdong, she had moved to Hong Kong together with her three sons in 1999 in hopes of offering them a greater life. She raised them virtually solely as a single mom, dwelling in public housing and dealing as a janitor and in different jobs to place her sons via faculty.
She divorced her husband when Mr. Regulation, the youngest, was nonetheless in highschool. In an interview, he described his upbringing as “working class.”
Regardless of that, she stated she all the time tried to provide her sons numerous freedom.
“My solely expectations are that he research, doesn’t do heroin or gamble — the minimal necessities,” she stated.
Nevertheless, she stated she objected when she first discovered that Mr. Regulation had grow to be a pacesetter of a professional-democracy group at his college.
“I simply needed stability,” she stated.
“If everyone seems to be egocentric, society won’t change,” she recalled her son responding.
She stated she had one more reason for feeling dread. Rising up in China, she had seen the political violence of the Cultural Revolution. She feared that difficult energy would solely convey retribution.
On the primary night time of the Umbrella Revolution, she stated she huddled in a lodge room with kin, apprehensive sick.
“He’s younger. He’s inexperienced. He has not been via the sort of purge that occurred on the mainland,” Ms. Lam stated.
Now, she stated, her fears have been borne out.
“He stated, ‘Hong Kong wasn’t just like the mainland.’ And I stated, ‘You’ll see. I’m apprehensive for you even in the event you’re not,’” Ms. Lam recalled. “Now it’s all occurred.”
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