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Greta Thunberg to Hong Kong Political Prisoner Joshua Wong: ‘You Are Never Alone’


Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg sent a letter revealed on Tuesday to anti-communist Hong Kong protest leader Joshua Wong, a political prisoner under the Chinese regime, in which she expressed “love, support, and strength.”

Pro-democracy activist Lee Dae-seon of South Korea shared the letter with Vice, which published it on Tuesday. In addition to wishing Wong a “Merry Christmas,” Thunberg expressed support for his cause, called him a “big hero,” and asserted, “you are never alone.”

The letter will likely outrage the Chinese government, which considers Wong a dangerous secessionist for organizing peaceful resistance to China’s illegal destruction of the Hong Kong democratic system. That destruction, increasingly brazen in light of the wave of anti-China protests in 2019 attracting millions of people, concluded with the passage of a “national security” law by the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing that establishes harsh prison sentences for vague “crimes” like “subversion of state power.”

Under Hong Kong’s “One Country, Two Systems” policy, NPC laws should not apply in Hong Kong, but police have enforced the “national security” law, anyway.

Wong is facing life in prison for “subversion” and has already been sentenced to over two years in prison for, among other things, attending a vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

“Merry Christmas and happy holidays! You are a big hero, we are with you always,” Thunberg wrote to Wong in the letter revealed this week. “Stay strong and never give up. You are never alone. I really hope that we will be able to meet one day.”

“Keep fighting and take care of yourself. Sending love, support, and strength from Sweden,” the letter concluded, according to Vice.

Lee, the activist that hopes to relay the letter to Wong, told Vice that he asked Thunberg to write to Wong as a way to raise awareness about his ongoing detention. Lee is an advocate for the Hong Kong cause and has helped the movement, the outlet reported, by translating protest leaders.

“I thought Thunberg’s letter could mean the most for Wong. That’s why I wanted to send him her letter,” Lee said.

Lee participated in a “Fridays for Future” protest with Thunberg in Sweden on Friday. Thunberg published a photo alongside Lee on her Twitter account in which the two, and two other activists, hold up protest signs urging greater efforts to stop climate change.

“Fridays for Future” is the weekly school boycott campaign Thunberg began as a teen. It has spread globally, including in China, where the regime has arrested participants. Ou Hongyi, the first known Fridays for Future participant in China, was arrested in October 2020 for skipping school to protest the climate crisis – for which China currently bears a disproportionate amount of blame. At the time, Thunberg published a statement sending Ou “solidarity and gratitude” for speaking up against China’s environmental crimes.

During the early years of her activism, Thunberg received criticism for disproportionately targeting Western nations in her calls to enact policies to protect the environment. She has increasingly identified China, the world’s worst polluter, as a major culprit in what she has branded an existential crisis for humanity. She has separately angered the Communist Party through her friendship with Wong. Like Thunberg, Wong began his career in activism as a teen – Wong first began protesting China as a 14-year-old – but has focused primarily on calling for preserving the free, democratic system Hong Kong enjoyed as a British colony and during its semi-autonomous state prior to the passage of the “national security” law.

Thunberg first publically supported Wong through a blurb written for his 2020 book Unfree Speech in which she wrote, “Joshua Wong is a brave and inspiring young leader. Together we are one loud voice that cannot be silenced.”

In October of that year, Thunberg joined an online campaign Wong participated in to demand freedom for Hong Kong residents who attempted to escape the city and found themselves imprisoned for both their attempt to escape and for their political dissent.

Pro democracy activist and South Horizons Community Organiser Joshua Wong stands in front of the Central Government Complex before the announcement of his run for 2019 District Council elections in Hong Kong on September 28, 2019 (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)

Pro democracy activist and South Horizons Community Organiser Joshua Wong stands in front of the Central Government Complex before the announcement of his run for 2019 District Council elections in Hong Kong on September 28, 2019 (PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty)

Thunberg has also increased her criticism of China’s abysmal environmental record. In May of this year, Thunberg asserted that China’s dubious classification as a “developing nation,” despite being the world’s second-largest economy, was “no excuse for ruining future and present living conditions.” Chinese officials regularly defend their prodigious pollution by claiming that the country is still “developing” and only “developed” countries should act to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Last month, during an interview with the BBC, Thunberg condemned China’s rapid expansion of fossil fuel resources as “out of touch with reality.”

“I mean, it’s always someone that’s bigger than you that you can blame on. And that’s why it’s more important that we need to work together internationally and globally to make sure that everyone does this transition,” Thunberg said. “Not the least, pushing China, who are still building coal – coal power plants, which today is quite out of touch with reality if you ask me.”

Chinese government-controlled media have assailed Thunberg as, among other things, an uneducated “clown” and “puppet” of the West. The “clown” remark appeared in the state newspaper Global Times in response to Thunberg’s support of Wong last year.

HONG KONG, CHINA - DECEMBER 18: Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong prepares to board a Correctional Service Department van at Lai Chi Kok ahead of a court hearing at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on December 18, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Wong was indicted for taking part in an unauthorized assembly over an anti-mask law protest. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong prepares to board a Correctional Service Department van at Lai Chi Kok ahead of a court hearing at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on December 18, 2020 in Hong Kong, China. Wong was indicted for taking part in an unauthorized assembly over an anti-mask law protest. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Notoriously sexist China Daily editor Chen Weihua attacked Thunberg at the time as “pathetic” and claimed she had “zero knowledge” of the situation in Hong Kong.

More recently, the Global Times responded to Thunberg’s BBC interview by calling her uneducated for promoting “Fridays for Future,” which calls on students to skip school that day in protest.

“Thunberg, who skipped school for so-called climate protests at 15, has been portrayed as a devoted environmentalist in the West. She is a pretty good tool to divert public attention from the fact that the West is not doing enough to curb emissions,” the Times propagandists wrote. “She was nicknamed by Chinese netizens’ selective environmental activist’ and a ‘puppet’ of Western politicians after she blamed China for the global climate crisis while turning a blind eye to Japan’s decision to dump nuclear wastewater in May.”





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