Part of a podcast series

The Fifth Estate

View all episodes in this series

Joshua Wong: Unfree Speech

Listen to Joshua Wong: Unfree Speech

Screenshot of Sally Warhaft and Joshua Wong in conversation, via the internet

Sally Warhaft, left, and Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong was still a teenager when he rose to international prominence as a leader in Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement, protesting increased Chinese Communist Party intervention in the city’s electoral system. 

That’s the transformation of Hong Kongers … Before last summer, nobody could imagine more than 2 million people taking to the streets. […] But we did it. Almost one-fourth of the population [stood] up against the regime of Beijing.’

A lot has happened since. Wong has served two prison terms and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He's co-founded a new political party, Demosistō, and written a book, Unfree Speech. All the while, the protest movement in Hong Kong has simmered on, boiling over last year into extraordinary mass protests and brutal police confrontations.

With Sally Warhaft, Wong talks about the evolution of Hong Kong’s democracy movement and the impact of COVID-19. Assembly restrictions enforced due to the pandemic have hampered demonstrations and possibly cleared the path for more authoritarian rule in the city. In mid-April, more than a dozen high-profile pro-democracy activists were arrested.

How does Wong expect these arrests to impact Hong Kong's legislative elections in September? What effect might a weakened United States and an emboldened China have on the One Country, Two Systems principle that grants Hong Kong special autonomy?

Wong reflects on these questions and more. 

#TWCFifthEstate

Who?

Portrait of Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong is a Hong Kong student activist and politician born in 1996. He serves as secretary-general of pro-democracy party Demosisto, which promotes democracy and progressive values through street activism and international advocacy. He has been named by TIME, Fortune, Prospect and Forbes as one of the world’s most influential leaders. In 2018 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his leading role in the Umbrella Movement.

Portrait of Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft

Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She hosts the Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, now in its ninth year. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.

Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.

The Fifth Estate

The important stories of the day – off the front pages.

Sally Warhaft hosts a dizzying array of guests from the worlds of politics, culture, international relations and beyond, in a witty and revealing analysis of current affairs.