mass movement for universal suffrage in 2014, many supporters worried that dreams of democracy were dead. But when those demands resurfaced in 2019, the crowds ballooned.

Faith in that resilience has shaped the life of Owen Au, who was in high school in 2014. Invigorated by those protests, he enrolled at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to study politics. He was elected president of the student union. He dreamed of running for higher office.

He knows that is impossible now. He is facing charges of unauthorized assembly related to the 2019 protests, and he said he would never qualify under the candidate-vetting system anyway.

But far from pushing him out of the political arena, Mr. Au said, the crackdown will guarantee that he stays in it. He expects that no major company will hire him. Besides activism, he doesn’t know what else he could do.

“I have no choice but to keep working on it,” he said. “But it’s not a bad thing. Most of the other paths, I’m not so interested in. But this one could ignite my hope.”

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