Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution has no singular leader - the protesters come from a huge swath of society, and have a range of demands - but it does have a handful of de facto spiritual guides. They can be divided into two camps. Leaders of the influential protest movement Occupy Central with Love and Peace - Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Chan Kin-Man and Chu Yiu-Ming - are generally middle-aged, politically experienced, and self-restrained. This older group may have been eclipsed by student leaders Joshua Wong and Alex Chao. They tend to be more idealistic, headstrong, and social media-savvy than their elder counterparts.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung
Wong, 17, the razor-thin leader of the student group Scholarism, has been one of the city’s most outspoken pro-democracy activists for three years. Wong founded the group in 2011 to protest a Beijing-backed proposal to implement a "patriotic education" curriculum in the public schools; the following autumn, he mobilised 120,000 people to occupy the city government headquarters, leading officials to shelve the plan.
As a testament to his influence, mainland media has attempted to discredit him by portraying him as an "extremist" with shadowy ties to the
Despite his age, Wong is known as a political firebrand: "You have to see every battle as possibly the final battle," he told CNN recently. "Only then will you have the determination to fight".
Alex Chow Yong-kang
Chow, 24, is general secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students - Scholarism’s closest ally - and a student of sociology and comparative literature at
In July, Chao organised an unofficial "occupy" protest on a public thoroughfare hours after the conclusion of an annual rally; the sit-in caused more than 500 arrests. "It’s not enough to repeat the march and the assembly every year," he said at the time. "We have to upgrade it to a civil disobedience movement."
Although Occupy Central has called for the Umbrella Revolution protesters to disperse by tomorrow, Chow told the
Benny Tai Yiu-ting
Tai, the 50-year-old public face of the 18-month-old Occupy Central protest movement, has been a law professor at the
"I used to be just a university academic living in my comfort zone, spending my spare time sending my children to school and going home for dinner," he told SCMP in May. "Now my daughter and two sons volunteer for the movement. My wife is Occupy's campaign manager."
Chan, a 55-year-old former sociology professor at
Chan joined Tai in seeking universal suffrage for
"I have advocated dialogue with the central government for many years, but now I will take part in the civil disobedience movement," he said last spring. "If [Benny and I] face a trial in court, we won’t dispute that we broke the law and we will make a political statement in the courtroom to spell out our vision."
Reverend Chu Yiu-ming
Chu Yiu-ming, a silver-haired, 70-year-old Baptist minister, spent decades spearheading pro-democratic initiatives in