Nathan Law

Nathan Law Kwun-chung (Chinese: 羅冠聰; born 13 July 1993) is an activist and politician from Hong Kong. As a former student leader, he has been chairman of the Representative Council of the Lingnan University Students' Union (LUSU), acting president of the LUSU, and secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). He was one of the student leaders during the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014. He is the founding and former chairman of Demosistō, a new political party derived from the 2014 protests.

Nathan Law
Nathan Law in 2019
Chairman of Demosistō
In office
10 April 2016  16 May 2018
DeputyOscar Lai
Tiffany Yuen
LeaderJoshua Wong
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byIvan Lam
Member of Legislative Council
In office
1 October 2016  12 October 2016[lower-alpha 1]
Preceded byJasper Tsang
Succeeded byAu Nok-hin
ConstituencyHong Kong Island
58th Secretary General of Hong Kong Federation of Students
In office
1 April 2015  31 March 2016
Preceded byAlex Chow
Succeeded byChan Man-hei
Personal details
Nathan Law Kwun-chung

(1993-07-13) 13 July 1993 (age 28)
Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
CitizenshipHong Kong
Political partyDemosistō (2016–2020)
ResidenceLondon, England, United Kingdom
EducationHKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School
Alma materLingnan University (BA)
Yale University (MA)
Known for2014 Hong Kong protests
Umbrella Movement
Activist in jail
Nathan Law
Traditional Chinese羅冠聰
Simplified Chinese罗冠聪

On 4 September 2016, at the age of 23, Law was elected to serve as a legislator for Hong Kong Island, making him the youngest lawmaker in the history of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. Over his controversial oath-taking at the Legislative Council inaugural meeting, his office was challenged by the Hong Kong Government which resulted in his disqualification from the Legislative Council on 14 July 2017.[1]

Following the enactment of the National Security Law on 1 July 2020, Law announced that he had moved to London, United Kingdom[2] where in April 2021 he was granted political asylum.[3] Hong Kong police had ordered the arrest of Nathan Law for inciting secession and collusion.[4]

In March 2021, Law was named a Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics.[5]

Early life and education

Law was born on 13 July 1993 in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, to a Hong Kong father and a Mainland mother. He moved to Hong Kong with his mother for a family reunion when he was around six years old.[6] He and his siblings were raised almost single-handedly by his mother.[7] He received his secondary education at HKFEW Wong Cho Bau Secondary School, and majored in Cultural Studies at Lingnan University (LU). In 2019, he accepted an offer with a full scholarship from the Council on East Asian Studies of Yale University[8] and started the study to pursue a master's degree in East Asian Studies in mid August.[9][10] He graduated a year later with the master's degree.[11]

Student activism

Nathan Law addressed the protesters at the Umbrella Square during the 2014 protests
Law with democracy activist Luke de Pulford in London, mid 2020, shortly after beginning self-exile.

Law was active in student activism and participated the 2013 Hong Kong dock strike. He joined and became the chairman of the Representative Council of the Lingnan University Students' Union and was the committee member of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). He later also became the acting president of the Lingnan University Students' Union (LUSU).

In September 2014, HKFS and Scholarism launched a week-long class boycott against Beijing's decision on Hong Kong electoral reforms. After the strike, the student protesters raided the Civic Square at the Central Government Complex, triggering a 79-day Occupy protest.[12] During the Umbrella Revolution, he rose as one of the student leaders and was one of the five student representatives to hold a talk in a televised open debate with the government representatives led by Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam with HKFS secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang, vice secretary Lester Shum, general secretary Eason Chung, and another committee member Yvonne Leung in October 2014.[13][14][15][16] He was also one of three student leaders at the heart of the Occupy protests whose Home Return Permits were revoked and were banned from flying to Beijing in an attempt to press their demands for genuine universal suffrage in November 2014.[17][18] After the protests, he was arrested along with other student leaders.[19]

After the protests, Law succeeded Alex Chow to become the secretary general of Hong Kong Federation of Students from 2015 to 2016. He won with 37 votes from the 53 student representatives from seven tertiary institutions qualified to vote in the annual election in March 2015. His only rival, Jason Szeto Tze-long, secured 14 votes.[18] His secretaryship was highlighted by the disaffiliation crisis that saw localist students from member institutions trigger referendums to break away from the HKFS which was accused of making hasty decisions with little transparency during the Umbrella Revolution.[18]

Law campaigned against the referendum at the LU as the acting president of the LUSU which the referendum to break away from HKFS was defeated. However, three student unions of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU), Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) quit the federation in their referendums under Law's secretaryship, following the Hong Kong University Students' Union (HKUSU) exit in February 2015.

Political career

Legislative Councillor and disqualification

In April 2016, Law and other leaders of the Umbrella Revolution including Joshua Wong Chi-fung formed a new political party Demosistō which aimed to fight for the self-determination right of Hong Kong people when the "one country, two systems" expires in 2047, where he became the founding chairman of the new party. He has expressed his interest in running in Hong Kong Island in the 2016 Legislative Council election.[20]

Law received 50,818 votes, the second-highest among all candidates for the six-seat Hong Kong Island constituency, and was elected.[21] After his win, Law claimed that "people are voting (for) a new way and a new future for the democratic movement". Law was elected alongside allies Lau Siu-lai and Eddie Chu.[22] At age 23, Law was the youngest-ever person to become a Hong Kong legislator.[23]

At the inaugural meeting of the Legislative Council, Law and other members used the oath-taking ceremony as a protest platform. Law made an opening statement saying that the oath ceremony had already become the "political tool" of the regime, adding "you can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind". When taking the oath, Law also rose his intonation on the word "國" to the phrase "the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China" (中華人民共和國香港特別行政區), making it sound like a question.[24][25]

Although Law's oath was validated by the clerk, the oath-taking controversy sparked by Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration led to the unprecedented legal challenge from Chief executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen. On 7 November 2016, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) interpreted the Article 104 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, standardising the manners of the oath-taking when taking public office. As a result, the duo were disqualified by the court. Subsequently, the government launched a second legal action against Law and three other pro-democracy legislators, Lau Siu-lai, Yiu Chung-yim and Leung Kwok-hung, which resulted in their disqualifications from the Legislative Council on 14 July 2017.[1]


(L to R) Joshua Wong and Nathan Law freed on bail outside the Court of Final Appeal, 24 October 2017.

Law, along with two other prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy student leaders Joshua Wong and Alex Chow, were jailed for six to eight months on 17 August 2017 for storming the Civic Square in 2014. The sentence, if held, would also have "halted their budding political careers", as they are barred from running for public office for five years.[26] Law was sent to the medium-security Tong Fuk Correctional Institution on Lantau Island.

On 24 October 2017 Nathan Law and Joshua Wong were granted bail by Hong Kong's chief justice, Geoffrey Ma, while Alex Chow did not appeal for bail and continued serving his seven-month jail term. Under their bail conditions, Law and Wong had to live in their Hong Kong home addresses and had to report weekly to police until 7 November 2017, when the trio appeals over their jail terms have set to be heard. Law stepped out of the Court of Final Appeal doors with his girlfriend, Tiffany Yuen. Later Law and Wong participated in a Hong Kong radio program where Nathan Law said one of his supporters named their son — who was born after the Umbrella Revolution — after the Chinese word for "aspiration" so as to never forget the democratic aspirations of Hong Kong.[27][28][29][30]

On 6 February 2018, the Court of Final Appeal upheld the conviction of the trio, affirming the lower court's view of the Civic Square protests as violent.[31] However, it overturned the imprisonment sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal, on the grounds the term had applied a new standard "retrospectively".[32]


On 1 February 2018, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers, led by Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) Chair US Senator Marco Rubio and co-chair US Representative Chris Smith announced they had nominated[33] Joshua Wong, Law, Alex Chow and the entire Umbrella Movement for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, for "their peaceful efforts to bring political reform and protect the autonomy and freedoms guaranteed Hong Kong in the Sino-British Joint Declaration".[34]

Law was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020[35] and was the winner of the reader's poll.[36] In the list Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, described him as "a typically brave representative of a generation whose spirit the Communist Party wants to stamp out."[35]


Nathan Law met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in London, July 2020

Hours after the promulgation of the new security law in Hong Kong enacted by Beijing on 30 June 2020, Nathan Law and the other leaders of Demosistō resigned from their offices and the party disbanded.[37] On 2 July, he announced that he had left Hong Kong due to safety concerns.[38] In his statement he encouraged the international community to continue advocating for the Hong Kong protesters, and said that he did not know when he would return to Hong Kong.[39] He dropped out from the pro-democracy primaries and days later announced he was in London.[2][40] Law met with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo during his visit to the United Kingdom in the same month, discussing the situation in Hong Kong, especially the possibility of Beijing's "meddling" in upcoming legislative elections, as well as human rights in Tibet and Xinjiang.[41]

On 3 July 2020, he testified before US Congress via video-conference (due to COVID-19 travel restriction) where he repeated his call for actions to be taken against Hong Kong and mainland China for enacting a national security law for Hong Kong, an action which violates the said law.[25] On 1 August 2020, media reported that an arrest warrant had been issued against him by Hong Kong police.[42] On 16 October 2020, another arrest warrant was issued against him for failing to appear in court due to the banned Tiananmen vigil.[43]

On 7 April 2021, Law announced on Twitter that he has been granted asylum in the UK.[44][45] On 9 April 2021, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian criticized the UK for allegedly "harbouring a criminal suspect wanted by the Hong Kong police". Zhao further elaborated that the move by the UK was a "gross interference in Hong Kong’s judicial affairs and a breach of international law and basic norms governing international relations."[46]

See also


  1. Law served as member of the Legislative Council until 14 July 2017 when his oath was invalidated and his seat was vacated according to the ruling of the Court of First Instance.


  1. "Four More Hong Kong Lawmakers Ousted in a Blow to Democratic Hopes". Time. 14 July 2017. Archived from the original on 28 September 2018. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  2. "Nathan Law: Hong Kong pro-democracy activist reveals he's in London". BBC News. 13 July 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  4. "National security law: Hong Kong police seek activist Nathan Law and 5 others for inciting secession and collusion, insider says". South China Morning Post. 13 July 2020. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  5. "Current Pritzker Fellows". Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  6. "羅冠聰忙政事少歸家 母:同吃一頓飯就夠". Ming Pao. 7 May 2016. Archived from the original on 17 June 2018. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  7. Wong, Alan (8 November 2017). "當他們的兒子為香港的民主被關進監獄". 紐約時報中文網 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 18 August 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  8. 羅冠聰, Nathan Law (16 March 2019). "It has been my honour to receive and accept an offer with a full scholarship from the Council on East Asian Studies (CEAS) department of the Yale University and begin to study there this fall for a one-year master program. Thank all of you who have helped me during these difficult". @nathanlawkc. Retrieved 15 August 2019.[non-primary source needed]
  9. "羅冠聰 Nathan Law". Archived from the original on 18 September 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2019 via Facebook.[non-primary source needed]
  10. "Hong Kong activist Nathan Law GRD '20 receives social media threats". Yale Daily News. 30 August 2019. Archived from the original on 17 November 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  11. "Nathan Law shortlisted in TIME's Top 100 People of the Year alongside President Xi Jinping and US President Trump". Dimsum Daily. 28 August 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  12. Barber, Elizabeth; Campbell, Charlie (27 September 2014). "Pro-Democracy Students Storm Government Square in Hong Kong". Time. Archived from the original on 13 March 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  13. Siu, Jasmine (20 October 2014). "Middle man vows fairness" Archived 2 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. The Standard.
  14. 政府學聯各派五人出席下周政改對話 [Government and Students Federation in dialogue together] (in Chinese). 19 October 2014. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  15. "Hong Kong protest talks agree little". CNN. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  16. Kevin Cheng, (22 October 2014). "Patience is virtue for Lam" Archived 2 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine. The Standard
  17. Ng, Joyce; Nip, Amy & Lau, Stuart (15 November 2014). "Beijing bans student leaders from taking trip to mainland to press for democracy". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  18. "Hong Kong Federation of Students elects Nathan Law as secretary general". South China Morning Post. 23 March 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  19. 星島新聞集團 (2015). 讀社論學英文第七卷. Sing Tao Publishing. p. 217.
  20. "Joshua Wong's party named 'Demosisto'". RTHK. 6 April 2016. Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  21. "(HK elections) Nathan Law elected as youngest lawmaker; Ricky Wong falls short". The Standard. 5 September 2016. Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  22. The Associated Press (5 September 2016). "Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Candidates Retain Veto in Key Vote". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 8 September 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  23. Gupta, Priyanka (6 September 2016). "Q&A with Hong Kong's youngest legislator Nathan Law". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 6 September 2016. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  24. "In The High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court of First Instance Miscellaneous Proceedings No 3379 of 2016". Dept of Justice, Government of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  25. "Hong Kong pro-democracy activist leaves city after testifying before Congress". LA Times. 3 July 2020.
  26. Siu, Jasmine (17 August 2017). "Joshua Wong and other jailed Hong Kong student leaders see political careers halted". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  27. Siu, Jasmine (24 October 2017). "Occupy leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Law freed on bail and raring to continue democracy fight". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  28. Chiu, Peace (25 October 2017). "Food, haircuts and prison pay – what Hong Kong Occupy leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Law thought about life behind bars". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  29. "Occupy student leaders vow to keep up the fight". Hong Kong Economic Journal. 26 October 2017. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  30. "羅冠聰:支持者為兒子改名「初衷」". Apple Daily (in Chinese). Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  31. "Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, Nathan Law free to go after Occupy sentence appeal". Hong Kong Free Press. 6 February 2018. Archived from the original on 2 July 2020. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  32. "Hong Kong activists have jail sentences overturned". The Guardian. 6 February 2018. Archived from the original on 24 October 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  33. Lai, Catherine (1 February 2018). "Group of US lawmakers nominate Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement for Nobel Peace Prize". Hong Kong Free Press. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  34. "Chairs Release 2017 Annual Report—Announce New Initiatives on Hong Kong & Commemoration of Liu Xiaobo". Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Washington, DC. 5 October 2017. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  35. Patten, Chris (22 September 2020). "Nathan Law: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  36. "Hong Kong Pro-democracy Activist Nathan Law Wins TIME's 2020 TIME100 Reader Poll". Time. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  37. Ho, Kelly; Grundy, Tom (30 June 2020). "Joshua Wong's pro-democracy group Demosisto disbands hours after Hong Kong security law passed". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  38. Graham-Harrison, Emma; Yu, Verna (2 July 2020). "Leading democracy campaigner Nathan Law leaves Hong Kong". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  39. Cheung, Eric; Wang, Philip (3 July 2020). "Pro-democracy leader Nathan Law leaves Hong Kong". CNN. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  40. Ho, Kelly (8 July 2020). "Activist and ex-lawmaker Nathan Law drops out of election race after fleeing Hong Kong". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  41. "Hong Kong activist Nathan Law warns Pompeo of Beijing 'meddling' in new polls". South China Morning Post. 22 July 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  42. Regan, Helen; Watson, Angus (1 August 2020). "Hong Kong issues arrest warrants for six overseas democracy activists including US citizen, state media reports". CNN International. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  43. Ho, Kelly (16 October 2020). "Arrest warrants issued for fugitive Hong Kong activists Nathan Law and Sunny Cheung over banned Tiananmen vigil". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
  44. Donaldson, Kitty (7 April 2021). "Hong Kong Democracy Activist Nathan Law Given Asylum in U.K." Bloomberg News. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  46. Davidson, Helen (9 April 2021). "China blasts UK for granting asylum to Hong Kong activist Nathan Law". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
Political offices
Preceded by
Alex Chow
Secretary General of Hong Kong Federation of Students
Succeeded by
Chan Man-hei
Party political offices
New political party Chairman of Demosistō
Succeeded by
Ivan Lam
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Jasper Tsang
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Hong Kong Island
Succeeded by
Au Nok-hin