HONG KONG - Student protest leader Joshua Wong turned 18 years old on Monday as Hong Kong's pro-democracy Occupy Central movement entered its 16th day.
On his Facebook page, Wong listed three birthday wishes: His first wish was for everyone to be safe and well, including families, classmates and comrades. He also wished the protesters will have the will power to continue with the Occupy Central movement.
His last wish was for China's parliament, the National People's Congress, to rescind its decision on electoral reforms in Hong Kong and to grant the city universal suffrage.
He had earlier celebrated his birthday with fellow protesters and a Twitter photograph showed him with a cake in the shape of an umbrella, the symbol of the current protests.
Wong leads Scholarism, one of the main groups behind the Occupy Central movement. The teenager with heavy, rectangular glasses and a bowl cut stood above the ocean of protesters who had engulfed downtown Hong Kong since end September but whose numbers had dwindled over time.
Born into a middle-class family to parents Grace and Roger, Wong has said his family taught him about social injustice but are far from radical, according to a BBC report. Shunning media attention, their only real appearance during the protests has been to condemn the arrest of their son.
Wong began his protesting career at just 13 - demonstrating against plans to build a high-speed rail link between Hong Kong and the mainland, BBC reported. Two years later, he set up Scholarism and has since been in the limelight.
In 2012, he rallied students against a government plan to introduce "patriotic education" in schools, attacking it as a means of Chinese Communist Party indoctrination, the New York Times reported.
He again played a pivotal role in setting off the current pro-democracy demonstrations, leading a surprise charge on a government building that resulted in his arrest and prompted thousands to take to the streets on Sept 28 ahead of schedule.
After his release several days later, the teen said calmly that he wanted to go home and take a shower - before heading back to the protest.
"After I go home and get cleaned up, I'll be able to fight," Joshua said.
His attitude is not the only thing that catches people's attention - his self-belief does as well.
"I hope I can have a better future and that I can have the right to choose my future in Hong Kong," Joshua told Reuters.