TIME World

A 25-Year-Old Hong Kong Lawmaker Wants More Space for Sex

Isaac Lawrence—AFP/Getty Images This picture taken on Sept. 15, 2016, shows Yau Wai Ching, from the political party Youngspiration, who was elected to the Hong Kong Legislative Council as a member for West Kowloon in the recent 2016 legislative elections

"Does the government even care?"

It’s no fun being young in Hong Kong. There’s the whole matter of communist encroachment, for starters: in recent years, the semiautonomous territory’s democratic freedoms have been undermined by its sovereign leaders in Beijing, imbuing the new generation with a deep anxiety for its political future. On top of that, members of said generation still by and large live with their parents in some of the densest and most-cramped apartment blocks in the world, leaving them with few opportunities to, well, blow off steam.

Enter 25-year-old Yau Wai-ching. She’s a radical anti-Beijing activist whose election in last month’s Legislative Council election here evinces a mounting popular frustration with the local political old guard, seen by many as feckless in the face of Beijing’s sovereignty. Her stances are extreme — she’s championed an unprecedented separatist movement for this maritime territory of 7.5 million people, a bold rebuke to the nation of 1.4 billion to which it belongs — and her words are frank. This week, she went on the record to lament the fact that young Hongkongers don’t get to have much sex.

“If we want to look for a room to bang in, we fail,” she said, according to the local English-language paper the Standard, using a Cantonese slang term that literally means “to strike something.” She added: “This is a matter of fact.”

There was a broader political point to be made, of course. She went on to damn the Hong Kong government’s failure to adequately address the bleak state of local housing, which she chalked up to the political establishment’s general disdain for the younger generation. (She is not the first to draw attention to this ideological chasm.)

“But does the government even care?” she told the Standard. “In order to make society care, I won’t hold back even if it means criticism.”

In a Facebook post cited in local media, Yau added: “Under debt, young people are facing limited options [when it comes to] spaces to bang in … What dreams can we have for our future?”

Despite its reputation as a cosmopolitan hub of global commerce, Hong Kong is a deeply conservative town. A 2008 survey cited by the South China Morning Post found it to be the most prudish place in the world on matters of sex — more than half of the young people surveyed said they were too embarrassed to buy condoms — and political issues like gay marriage are fringe topics at best.

“I don’t know what’s in her mind,” one online commenter wrote, according to the Standard.

She takes office next week. She will be the second youngest lawmaker in Hong Kong’s history.

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