Wong co-founded in 2016 the pro-democracy political party Demosistō, which supports self-determination (the belief that Hong Kong citizens should decide for themselves how Hong Kong should be governed after it is fully returned to China in 2047). The Sino-British treaty stated that after the 1997 handover, China would give Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy for 50 years. This is a promise China has been more and more shameless in breaking in recent years.
Wong fears what will become of Hong Kong’s historically robust religious freedom. Churches are now a common sight in Hong Kong, and mainland Chinese Christians cross the border to attend large conferences and evangelism trainings here. “Without a sound, democratic system, we don’t even have freedom of religion,” Wong said in 2014. “We don’t even have the chance to evangelize publicly.”
Demosistō member Derek Lam recently wrote a New York Times op-ed titled “I Won’t Make Jesus Bow Down to Xi Jinping.” He wrote that he has wanted to be a pastor since he was 16 and studies theology at Chinese University of Hong Kong, yet he fears he may soon be imprisoned and barred from becoming a pastor. Authorities arrested Lam after he led a protest against Beijing’s involvement in kicking out pro-democracy legislators.
“Although there is nothing I would love more than to become a pastor and preach the gospel in Hong Kong, I will never do so if it means making Jesus subservient to [Chinese President] Xi Jinping,” Lam wrote, noting that even Christian youth camps in Hong Kong include the waving of China’s flag, singing of its national anthem, and praising of the “motherland.” “I will continue to fight for religious freedom in Hong Kong, even if I have to do it from behind bars.”
Chan Sze-chi, senior lecturer of religion and philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University, believes the recent sentencing is an ominous sign of Beijing’s frustration with Hong Kong democracy activists: “The Communists are taking revenge. It’s Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back. It’s certainly politically motivated with complicity of the judiciary.”