In 2013 the Patreon platform was launched as a way for creators of such things as drawings, paintings, photography, and even educational resources to raise money to support their work. A wild success, it sees millions of visitors monthly seeking to support creators and artists around the world. Now with the creation of an account by Joshua Wong, patrons can pledge their support for Hong Kong’s democratic movement.
Begun in 2019, the Hong Kong protests were initiated over concerns that China was beginning to exert efforts to bring the legal system of the Special Administrative Region into compliance with the mainland. Pro-democracy activists were concerned that this would lead to the autonomy of Hong Kong being undermined and that civil liberties would be put at risk. What has followed to this point in time has been over sixteen months of demonstrations, strikes, protests, and even a widely publicized siege of a university by police. Most recently on July 30, 2020, the current regime of Hong Kong disqualified 12 candidates to the Legislative Council, nearly all of which were winners of the pro-democratic primaries. Joshua Wong, a student activist, pro-democracy politician, and nominee for the Nobel Preace Prize in 2017, was one of these individuals.
For his part, Joshua Wong reiterated his commitment to the struggle for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong on his Patreon, confirming that it would be used to publish articles and videos, in both Chinese and English, detailing the history of the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong. In exchange for pledging support, and depending on how much that support is, a patron can gain early access to his feeds, to posts and photos about his life, and even vote on the future topics of the videos. Should a patron decide to pledge $1000 a month, they would also gain access to one-on-one video meetings and interviews.
Most worrying to any potential patrons will be Joshua Wong’s statement that his personal safety, and the safety of his partner, are at risk given their continued commitment to the cause of democracy in Hong Kong. Apparently, they have been subject to around the clock monitoring, and even been followed by unknown people and vehicles. For this reason, his Patreon page states that at least some of the money will be going to support the livelihood of himself and his partner, and to hire professional guards and a driver for their protection.
Perhaps he is right to be concerned for the status of democracy in Hong Kong. The very next day after the disqualification of the twelve candidates to the Legislative Council, Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, cited the impacts of the pandemic as justification to invoke the emergency power to delay the upcoming election until September 2021. This act has drawn international condemnation and accusations of undermining the rights and freedoms of the Hong Kong people.
It is clear from statements on his Patreon account that though they may not be represented in the Legislative Council, Joshua Wong and others like him in Hong Kong are committed to the long-term struggle for freedom and democracy. Time will tell how the next stage in the fight for democracy in Hong Kong will develop, but what is clear is that support will continue to be sought from abroad, and that Patreon and other digital sources of donations or support might well prove another lifeline for the protests in Hong Kong.
Want to learn more about the history of Hong Kong and the protests? Check out these books:
- City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong: a detailed analysis by the author regarding the protests and the tactics used by the protesters.
- Rebellion: On the Frontlines of Hong Kong’s Uprising (Documentary): Documentary that follows reporter Sophie McNeill as she covers the protests in Hong Kong.
- Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire: A book of essays that gives a comprehensive picture of Hong Kong society and the protests.
- A Modern History of Hong Kong: 1841–1997: A major overview of the journey from fishing villages to becoming an icon of capitalism over more than 150 years. An excellent read for anyone interested in the history of Hong Kong.
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