HONG KONG, DEMOCRACY IN PERIL INTERVIEW WITH NATHAN LAW.

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Author: Indu Pandey
Date: Spring 2021
From: Harvard International Review(Vol. 42, Issue 2)
Publisher: Harvard International Relations Council, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,750 words
Lexile Measure: 1260L

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Nathan Law is a pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong. He was one of the student leaders of the Umbrella Movement of 2014 as well as the founder and chairman of Demosisto, Hong Kong's now disbanded pro-democracy political organization. Laxv was Hong Kong's youngest elected legislator before seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. Law was included by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2020 in addition to being the winner of the TimelOO Reader's Poll in the same year.

You began advocacy when you were quite young. How did you get your start in advocacy?

I was inspired to start my advocacy when China's prominent dissent Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. I was moved by Liu's long struggle for fundamental human rights in China, especially as he advocated for change in a context where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders routinely incarcerated those calling on the regime to honor its promises. His courage to tell the inconvenient truth under Beijing's iron grip was the catalyst that has motivated my advocacy for democratic changes and social justice in Hong Kong.

Pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong as well as your broader pan-Asian pro-democracy coalition are predominantly young individuals like yourself. What is the impact of having a young coalition? Are there challenges to being a youth movement? As Hong Kong, Thailand, and Myanmar show, the coalition empowers and strengthens democratic resilience among civil societies. It serves as an additional check and balance mechanism against authoritarian expansion in the region. Without a doubt, the coalition can raise public awareness and encourage youth participation. The key for youth movements to succeed is global leaders' determination to respond with actions. After all, world leaders are still vital players with state apparatuses to pressure authoritarian leaders to make compromises. As the case of Myanmar shows, the Milk Tea Alliance can improve domestic resilience against authoritarianism, but the coalition still needs state leaders to make tyrannical leaders come to the table.

You've called for a Pan-Asian Milk Tea alliance to fend off authoritarianism from China. Can you expand on what this may look like?

In recent decades, China has been working with authoritarian governments and expanding its influence in the region through Belt and Road Initiative and global propaganda programs. Hence, any discussion about authoritarianism should also pay attention to the geopolitical role that China plays.

During the recent Myanmar coup, China was relatively supportive of the military junta through diplomatic and technical support. With China's backing, military generals dare to ignore international pressure and cruelly suppress internal opposition.

In response, the Milk Tea alliance is...

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