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Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was the preeminent leader of China's republican revolution. He did much to inspire and organize the movement that overthrew the Manchu dynasty in 1911 and through the Kuomintang party paved the way for the eventual reunification of the country.

Sun Yat-sen was born on Nov. 12, 1866, into a peasant household in Choyhung in Kwangtung near the Portuguese colony of Macao. His early education, like his birthplace, established him as a man of two worlds, China and the West. After a rudimentary training in the Chinese classics in his village school, he was sent to Hawaii in 1879 to join his émigré elder brother. There he enrolled at an Anglican college where he studied Western science and religion. Upon graduation in 1882, he returned to his native village, but he soon was banished for defacing the village idols.

Though he returned home briefly to undergo an arranged marriage, Sun spent the formative years of his late teens and early 20s studying in Hong Kong. He began his medical training in Canton but in 1887 returned to Hong Kong and enrolled in the school of medicine attached to Alice Memorial Hospital under Dr. James Cantlie, dean of the school. After graduation in June 1892, he went to Macao, where Portuguese authorities refused to give him a license to practice.

By the time Sun returned to Hong Kong in the spring of 1893, he had become more interested in politics than in medicine. Appalled by the Manchu government's corruption, inefficiency, and inability to defend China against foreign aggressors, he wrote a letter to Li Hung Chang, one of China's most important reform leaders, advocating a program of reform. Ignored, Sun returned to Hawaii to organize the Hsing-chung hui (Revive China Society). When the Sino-Japanese War appeared to present possibilities for the overthrow of the Manchus, Sun returned to Hong Kong and reorganized the Hsing-chung hui as a revolutionary secret society. An uprising was planned in Canton in 1895 but was discovered, and several of Sun's comrades were executed. Having become a marked man, Sun fled and found refuge in Japan.

Peripatetic Revolutionist

The pattern for Sun's career was established: hastily organized plots, failures, execution of co-conspirators, overseas wanderings in search of sanctuary and financial backing for further coups. Sun grew a moustache, donned Western-style clothes, and, posing as a Japanese, set out once again, first to hawaii, then to San Francisco, and finally to England to visit Cantlie. There he was kidnaped by the Chinese legation and held captive pending deportation back to China. Rescued at the last minute through the efforts of Cantlie, he emerged from captivity with an international reputation enhanced by his own account of the event, Kidnapped in London (1897). Before leaving England, he frequented the reading room of the British Museum, where he became acquainted with the writings of Karl Marx and of the American single-tax advocate Henry George.

In July 1897 Sun returned to Japan, where he adopted the pseudonym Nakayama (Chinese, Chung-shan). He also attracted the support of prominent Japanese Sinophiles, liberals, and adventurers who hoped that Japan, by promoting political change in China, could build an Asian bloc against the West. On the other hand, Sun failed to consummate an alliance with the followers of the radical monarchial loyalist K'ang Yu-wei, who also found asylum in Japan after the failure of his Hundred Days Reform. After the failure of the Waichow uprising in October 1900, Sun spent 3 years in Yokohama, establishing a relationship with the growing number of Chinese students who flocked to Japan for a modern education. From 1903 to 1905 he renewed his travels, recruiting adherents among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, Hawaii, the United States, and Europe.

Sun returned to Japan in July 1905 to find the Chinese student community stirred to a pitch of patriotic excitement. In league with other revolutionary refugees such as Huang Hsing and Sung Chiao-jen, Sun organized, and was elected director of, the T'ung-meng hui (Revolutionary Alliance). Though based upon a merger of the Hsing-chung hui and other existing organizations, the T'ung-meng hui was a centralized body, meticulously organized, with a sophisticated and highly educated membership core drawn from all over China.

By this time Sun's ideas had crystallized into the "Three People's Principles"—nationalism, democracy, and people's livelihood. These became the ideological basis for the T'ung-meng hui. When Sun returned from another fund-raising trip in the fall of 1906, his student following in Japan numbered in the thousands. However, under pressure from Peking, the Japanese government expelled him. From March 1907 to March 1908 Sun staged several uprisings from Hanoi, where the sympathetic French had given him a base, but once again Manchu pressure prevailed, and he was compelled to flee to Singapore.

Sun's fortunes had reached a low point. The failure of a series of poorly planned and armed coups relying upon the scattered forces of secret societies and rebel bands had undermined the prestige of the T'ung-meng hui in Southeast Asia, and in August 1908 Japanese authorities banned the highly successful party organ, the Min Pao. Receiving scant encouragement upon revisiting Europe, Sun found that Chinese opinion in the United States was turning against his promonarchial rivals. After a triumphal tour through New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, he returned to Japan via Honolulu. Ten days later he was expelled once again. He went on to Singapore, then to Penang, from which he was ousted for an inflammatory speech. Sun returned to the United States and was en route from Denver to Kansas City on a successful fundraising tour when he read in a newspaper that a successful revolt had occurred in the central Yangtze Valley city of Wuchang.

President of the Chinese Republic

The revolution had occurred in Sun's absence. The instigators were low-ranking army officers in units sympathetic to the T'ung-meng hui. Sun continued to travel eastward across the Atlantic and through Europe to solicit diplomatic and financial support for the revolutionary regime. By the time he arrived back in China on Christmas Day, rebellion had spread through the Yangtze Valley. A tumultuous welcome greeted Sun, and in Nanking, revolutionary delegates from 14 provinces elected him president of a provisional government. On Jan. 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of China.

However, the revolutionists lacked the power to dethrone the Manchu ruler in Peking. Only Yüan Shih-kai, strongman of North China, could accomplish this. Sun, therefore, agreed to relinquish the presidency in exchange for the abdication of the Manchus and Yüan's acceptance of a republican form of government. Yüan gave his assent and was duly elected by the National Assembly in Nanking and inaugurated in Peking on March 12. Yüan thereupon maneuvered the provisional government into moving to Peking instead of transferring the capital to Nanking. Sung Chiao-jen, parliamentary leader of the T'ung-meng hui, attempted to check Yüan's power through the National Assembly. He brought leaders of the T'ung-meng hui and four smaller parties into a federated organization called the Kuomintang (National People's party). Sun Yat-sen, however, having little taste for such parliamentary maneuvers, set about to promote his program of people's livelihood. As newly appointed director of railroad development, he spent the autumn and winter of 1912 touring the rail lines of China and Japan and developing grandiose plans for the future.

Meanwhile a bitter power struggle was under way in Peking. In the national elections of February 1913, the Kuomintang won control of the Assembly. On March 20, Yüan's agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen at the Shanghai railroad station. Sun hurried back and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice. Yüan, backed by a "reorganization loan" from a foreign consortium, took political and military steps against the Kuomintang. This precipitated scattered but ineffectual resistance, the so-called second revolution. Sun denounced Yüan; Yüan removed Sun from office and on September 15 ordered his arrest. By early December, Sun was once again a political refugee in Japan.

Preparations for a Comeback

Sun now began to work for the overthrow of Yüan. On June 23, 1914, he replaced the Kuomintang with a new party, the Chung-hua ko-ming tang (China Revolutionary party), based upon a personal oath of allegiance to himself. However, Yüan was undone by his own miscalculations rather than by Sun's plots. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun's followers in several other provinces. Sun hopefully returned to Shanghai in April 1916, 2 months before Yüan's death.

The disintegration of centralized authority opened the gates to warlordism. Power first fell into the hands of Tuan Ch'i-jui, who dissolved the Parliament and convened his own provisional assembly in its place. Sun responded by forming a military government in Canton in league with naval chief Ch'en Pi-kuang, Kwangtung warlord Ch'en Chiung-ming, and other southern military leaders. A rump parliament was convened. However, failing to secure independent military power, Sun was forced to withdraw from the Canton government in May 1918. This need to rely upon warlord support continued to plague him.

Following a fruitless quest for Japanese assistance, Sun established residence in the French concession in Shanghai. There he wrote two of the three treatises later incorporated into his Chien-kuo fang-lueh (Principles of National Reconstruction). In the first part (Social Reconstruction), completed in February 1917, Sun had attributed the failure of democracy in China to the people's lack of practice in its implementation. The second treatise, Psychological Reconstruction, argued that popular acceptance of his program had been obstructed by acceptance of the old adage "Knowledge is easy, action is difficult." Sun proposed the transposition of this to read "Knowledge is difficult, action is easy." Once the knowledge, provided by himself, had been made available, the people should have no difficulty putting it into practice. The third part (Material Reconstruction) constituted a master plan for the industrialization of China to be financed by lavish investments from abroad.

Sun's preoccupation with literary endeavors did not exclude him from political schemes. Once again he reorganized his party, this time as the Chinese Kuomintang. He also kept a hand in the political intrigues of Canton. When the city was occupied on Oct. 26, 1920, by Ch'en Chiung-ming and other supporters, Sun named Ch'en governor of Kwangtung. Sun returned to Canton in November and laid plans to counter the Peking government with a rival regime that would attract foreign support and serve as a military base for an eventual campaign of national reunification. In April 1921 the Canton Parliament established a new government and elected Sun president.

Having brought the neighboring province of Kwangsi under control, Sun now took sides in the altercations of the northern warlords by forming an alliance with Chang Tsolin and Tuan Ch'i-jui against Ts'ao K'un and Wu P'ei-fu and preparing to send troops into Hunan and Kiangsi. However, Ch'en Chiung-ming opposed Sun's grandiose nationwide goals, preferring to wield regional power in a decentralized federation. Sun responded by assuming direct command of his troops in Kweilin, but Ch'en undermined his efforts from Canton. After driving Ch'en from the city, Sun resumed preparation for the northern expedition, but Ch'en recaptured Canton and forced Sun to flee to a gunboat in the Pearl River. There, in the company of a young military aide named Chiang Kai-shek, Sun tried unsuccessfully to engineer a comeback.

Communist Alliance

Never one to be discouraged by failure, Sun returned to Shanghai and continued his plans to retake Canton via alliances with northern warlords and the exertions of his forces in Fukien and Kwangsi. He undertook, moreover, to breathe new life into the faltering Kuomintang and to set in motion a thoroughgoing reorganization of the party. Of equal consequence was Sun's decision to accept support from the Soviet Union, a mark of his disappointment with the Western powers and Japan and his need for political, military, and financial aid. Part of the agreement provided for the admission of individual Chinese Communists into the Kuomintang. On Jan. 26, 1923, in a joint manifesto with Sun, Soviet envoy Adolph Joffe guaranteed Russian support for the reunification of China.

Meanwhile Sun's military allies were paving the way for a return to Canton. By the middle of February 1923 Sun was back again as head of a military government. On October 6 Michael Borodin arrived in Canton, having been sent by the Comintern in response to Sun's request for an adviser on party organization. In January 1924 the first National Congress of the Kuomintang approved a new constitution which remodeled the party along Soviet lines. At the top of a tightly disciplined pyramidal structure was to be a Central Executive Committee with bureaus in charge of propaganda, workers, peasants, youth, women, investigation, and military affairs. Sun's Three People's Principles were restated to emphasize anti-imperialism and the leading role of the party.

One significant departure from the Soviet model was the creation of the position of Tsung-li (party director), to which Sun was given a lifetime appointment. The most controversial development was the election of three Chinese Communists to the Central Executive Committee and to leadership in the organization and peasants bureaus. Party conservatives were shocked. To prevent further polarization, Sun placed ultimate authority in his own hands via the establishment of the Central Political Council.

Even the most disciplined party, Sun realized, would be ineffectual without a military arm. To replace the unreliable warlord armies, Sun chose the Soviet model of a party army. The Soviets agreed to help establish a military academy, and a mission headed by Chiang kai-shek was sent to the U.S.S.R. to secure assistance. The new school was located on Whampoa Island 10 miles downriver from Canton. Sun appointed Chiang commandant, Liao Chung-kai party representative, and other close followers as political instructors.

Final Days in Peking

However, the lure of warlord alliances remained strong. In response to an invitation from Chang Tso-lin and Tuan Ch'i-jui, Sun set out for Peking to deliberate upon the future of China. After a journey via Shanghai, Japan, and Tientsin, Sun and his party reached Peking at the end of December 1924. However, negotiations with Tuan Ch'i-jui soon collapsed. This proved to be the last time that Sun would be disappointed by his allies. Following several months of deteriorating health, he found that he had incurable cancer.

Sun passed his final days at the home of Wellington Koo. There he signed the pithy "political testament" drafted by Wang Ching-wei, urging his followers to hold true to his ideals in carrying the revolution through to victory. He also signed a highly controversial valedictory to the Soviet Union reconsecrating the alliance against Western imperialism. The following day, March 12, 1925, Sun died. He was given a state funeral under orders of Tuan Ch'i-jui.

Sun's Legacy

Though the guiding spirit of the Chinese revolution, Sun was widely criticized during his lifetime. His involvement in warlord politics combined with frequent pronunciamentos heralding new ventures had won him the derisive epithet of "Big Gun Sun." After his death, however, he became the object of a cult that elevated him to a sacrosanct position. His title of Tsung-li was enshrined, never to be used by another leader (although Chiang Kaishek came close in 1938, when he dubbed himself Tsungtsai, or party leader).

During the years of Kuomintang rule (1928-1949), Sun's face looked out from portraits in homes and government offices and appeared on bank notes. His name, Chung-shan, was attached to every variety of public place. His writings became a national bible. This was anything but an unmixed blessing, since Sun was neither a systematic ideologist nor a practical political planner. His Three People's Principles had undergone many changes over the years. The target of his "nationalism" had changed from the Manchus to the imperialist powers. His "people's livelihood" had been loosely identified with socialism and with communism. His "democracy" had been hedged about by more and more qualifications, including the requirement of a period of party tutelage before it could become effective. His manuscripts, left behind when he fled from Ch'en Chiung-ming in 1922, were destroyed by fire. The published work that we know as the Three People's Principles, or Three Principles of the People, was transcribed from lectures delivered between January and August 1924. In practice, this provided neither a viable program for national construction nor a viable alternative to the more rigorous Marxist ideologies.

Sun Yat-sen has also been honored by the Chinese Communists, who stress the last period of his life and speak of his "Three Great Policies" of relying upon the Soviet Union, the Chinese Communists, and the working and peasant masses. The radical interpretation of Sun was carried forth by his widow, Soong Ch'ing-ling, who fearlessly accused Chiang Kai-shek of subverting her husband's teachings and, after 1949, was a prominent figure in the Communist government. His son, Sun Fo, though often at odds with the Kuomintang leadership, pursued a career in Nationalist politics and held a succession of administrative posts in the Nationalist government.

Further Reading

Sun Yat-Sen's Three Principles of the People is available in many Western-language editions; San min chu-i: Three Principles of the People (1964) contains a biographical sketch of Sun. The second and third parts of Sun's Chien-kuo fang-lueh (Principles of National Reconstruction) are translated respectively in his Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary (1927) and in his The International Development of China (1922).

The standard biography of Sun is Lyon Sharman, Sun Yat-sen: His Life and Its Meaning (1934). This is superseded in part by Harold Z. Schiffrin, Sun Yat-sen and the Origins of the Chinese Revolution (1968), which carries Sun's story to the founding of the T'ung-meng hui in 1905. Sun's Three Principles are elucidated in Paul M. A. Linebarger, The Political Doctrines of Sun Yat-sen: An Exposition of the San Min Chu I (1937). His political and ideological relationship with the Russian and Chinese Communists is examined in Shao Chuan Leng and Norman D. Palmer, Sun Yat-sen and Communism (1960). Sun's early career is placed in perspective in Mary Calbaugh Wright, ed., China in Revolution: The First Phase, 1900-1913 (1968), which contains an essay on Sun by Harold Z. Schiffrin. Also useful for understanding Sun in the context of his times is Michael Gasster, Chinese Intellectuals and the Revolution of 1911 (1969). Additional perspective can be gained from the biographies of two contemporaries: Jerome Ch'ên, Yüan Shih-kai, 1859-1916 (1961), and Chün-tu Hsüeh, Huang Hsing and the Chinese Revolution (1961). □

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Sun Yat-Sen

Sun Yat-sen

Born: November 12, 1866
Choyhung, Kwangtung, China
Died: March 12, 1925
Peking, China

Chinese president and politician

Sun Yat-sen was the leader of China's republican revolution. He did much to inspire and organize the movement that overthrew the Manchu dynasty in 1911a family of rulers that reigned over China for nearly three hundred years. Through the Kuomintang Party he paved the way for the eventual reunification of the country.

Childhood

Sun Yat-sen was born on November 12, 1866, into a peasant household in Choyhung in Kwangtung near the Portuguese colony of Macao. His father worked as a farmer, which had been his family's traditional occupation for many generations. His early education, like his birthplace, established him as a man of two worlds, China and the West. After a basic training in the Chinese classics in his village school, he was sent to Hawaii in 1879 to join his older brother. There he enrolled in a college where he studied Western science and Christianity. Upon graduation in 1882, he returned to his native village. After learning about Christianity, Sun had come to believe that the religious practices in the village where he grew up were nothing more than superstitions. He soon showed these changed beliefs by damaging one of the village idols and was banished from the village.

Though Sun returned home briefly to undergo an arranged marriage, he spent his late teens and early twenties studying in Hong Kong. He began his medical training in Canton, China, but in 1887 returned to Hong Kong and enrolled in the school of medicine. After graduation in June 1892, he went to Macao, where Portuguese authorities refused to give him a license to practice medicine.

By the time Sun returned to Hong Kong in the spring of 1893, he had become more interested in politics than in medicine. Upset by the Manchu government's corruption, inefficiency, and inability to defend China against foreign powers, he wrote a letter to Li Hung-chang (18231901), one of China's most important reform leaders (social-improvement leaders), supporting a program of reform. Ignored, Sun returned to Hawaii to organize the Hsing-chung hui (Revive China Society). When war between China and Japan appeared to present possibilities for the overthrow of the Manchus, Sun returned to Hong Kong and reorganized the Hsing-chung hui as a revolutionary secret society. An uprising was planned in Canton in 1895 but was discovered, and several of Sun's men were executed. Having become a marked man, Sun fled to Japan.

Revolutionist

The pattern for Sun's career was established: unorganized plots, failures, execution of coconspirators, overseas wanderings, and financial backing for further coups (hostile takeovers). Sun grew a moustache, donned Western-style clothes, and, posing as a Japanese man, set out once again, first to Hawaii, then to San Francisco, and finally to England to visit a former school instructor. Before leaving England, he often visited the reading room of the British Museum, where he became acquainted with the writings of Karl Marx (18181893).

Sun returned to Japan in July 1905 to find the Chinese student community stirred to a pitch of patriotic excitement. Joined by other revolutionists such as Huang Hsing and Sung Chiao-jen (18821913), Sun organized, and was elected director of, the T'ungmeng hui (Revolutionary Alliance). The T'ung-meng hui was carefully organized, with a sophisticated and highly educated membership core drawn from all over China.

By this time Sun's ideas had developed into the "Three People's Principles"his writings on nationalism, democracy, and people's livelihood. When Sun returned from another fundraising trip in the fall of 1906, his student following in Japan numbered in the thousands. However, under pressure from the government in China, the Japanese government threw him out.

Sun's fortunes had reached a low point. The failure of a series of poorly planned and armed coups relying upon the scattered forces of secret societies and rebel bands had reduced the reputation of the T'ungmeng hui in Southeast Asia. However, Sun found that Chinese opinion in the United States was turning against his rivals. Sun visited the United States and was on a successful fundraising tour when he read in a newspaper that a successful revolt had occurred in the central Yangtze Valley city of Wuchang, China.

President of the Chinese Republic

By the time Sun arrived back in China on Christmas Day 1911, rebellion had spread through the Yangtze Valley. An uneasy welcome greeted him, and in Nanking, China, revolutionaries from fourteen provinces elected him president of a provisional (temporary) government. On January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-sen proclaimed the establishment of the Republic of China.

The next year a bitter power struggle developed in the Chinese government. On March 20, 1913, Yüan's agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen at the Shanghai, China, railroad station. Sun hurried back and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice. Yüan resisted, sparking the so-called second revolution. Yüan removed Sun from office and on September 15, 1913, ordered his arrest. By early December, Sun was once again a political refugee (one who is forced to flee) in Japan.

Preparations for a comeback

Sun now began to work for the overthrow of Yüan. However, Yüan was undone by his own mistakes rather than by Sun's plots. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy (rule by one) touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun's followers in several other provinces. Sun returned to Shanghai in April 1916, two months before Yüan's death.

Following a fruitless quest for Japanese assistance, Sun established a home in Shanghai. There he wrote two of the three treatises (formal writings) later incorporated into his Chien-kuo fang-lueh (Principles of National Reconstruction). In the first part, Social Reconstruction, completed in February 1917, Sun attributed the failure of democracy (rule by the people) in China to the people's lack of practice and application. The second treatise, Psychological Reconstruction, argued that popular acceptance of his program had been obstructed by acceptance of the old saying "Knowledge is difficult, action is easy." The third part, Material Reconstruction, constituted a master plan for the industrialization of China to be financed by lavish investments from abroad.

Once again Sun reorganized his party, this time as the Chinese Kuomintang. He also kept a hand in the political world in Canton, China. When the city was occupied on October 26, 1920, by Ch'en Chiung-ming and other supporters, Sun named Ch'en governor of Kwangtung, China. In April 1921 the Canton Parliament established a new government to rival the Peking government and elected Sun president.

After driving Ch'en from Peking, Sun resumed preparation for the northern expedition, but Ch'en recaptured Canton and forced Sun to flee to a gunboat in the Pearl River. There, in the company of a young military aide named Chiang Kai-shek (18871975), Sun tried unsuccessfully to engineer a comeback.

Communist alliance

Never one to be discouraged by failure, Sun returned to Shanghai and continued his plans to retake Canton through alliances with northern warlords (military commanders of independent armies). About this time, Sun accepted support from the Soviet Union, a mark of his disappointment with the Western powers and Japan and his need for political, military, and financial aid. Part of the agreement provided for the admission of individual Chinese Communists into the Kuomintang. On January 26, 1923, the Soviet Union guaranteed its support for the reunification of China. This would give Sun the muscle he needed.

Meanwhile Sun's military allies were paving the way for a return to Canton. By the middle of February 1923 Sun was back again as head of a military government. In January 1924 the first National Congress of the Kuomintang approved a new constitution (a formal document which sets the standards for a government), which remodeled the party along Soviet lines. At the top of the party was the Central Executive Committee with bureaus in charge of propaganda (using literature and the media to influence the masses), workers, peasants, youth, women, investigation, and military affairs. Sun's Three People's Principles were restated to emphasize anti-imperialism (domination by a foreign power) and the leading role of the party.

Even the most disciplined party, Sun realized, would be ineffective without a military arm. To replace the unreliable warlord armies, Sun chose the Soviet model of a party army. The Soviets agreed to help establish a military academy, and a mission headed by Chiang kai-shek was sent to the Soviet Union to secure assistance.

Final days in Peking

However, the lure of warlord alliances remained strong. In response to an invitation from Chang Tso-lin (18731928) and Tuan Ch'i-jui (18651936), Sun set out for Peking to discuss the future of China. However, negotiations with Tuan Ch'i-jui soon collapsed. This proved to be the last time that Sun would be disappointed by his allies. Following several months of deteriorating health, in late 1924, Sun found that he had incurable cancer.

Sun passed his final days by signing the pithy "political testament," urging his followers to hold true to his goals in carrying the revolution through to victory. He also signed a highly controversial valedictory (farewell address) to the Soviet Union to reaffirm the alliance against Western domination. The following day, March 12, 1925, Sun died in Peking, China. He was given a state funeral under orders of Tuan Ch'i-jui.

Though the guiding spirit of the Chinese revolution, Sun was widely criticized during his lifetime. After his death he became the object of a cult (a following) that elevated him to a sacred position.

For More Information

Bergère, Marie-Claire. Sun Yat-sen. Edited by Janet Lloyd. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Gasster, Michael. Chinese Intellectuals and the Revolution of 1911. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1969.

Schiffrin, Harold Z. Sun Yat-sen, Reluctant Revolutionary. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980.

Wells, Audrey. The Political Thought of Sun Yatsen: Development and Impact. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

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Sun Yat-Sen

Sun Yat-Sen 18661925

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Born into a peasant family in Canton (Guangzhou), raised in Hawaii, and educated at colleges in Hawaii and Hong Kong, Sun Yat-sen (Sun Wen or Sun Yixian or Sun Zhongshan) played a key role in the overthrow of Chinas Qing or Manchu dynasty (16441911), in the politics of the early Chinese Republic, and in the shaping of post-1949 regimes in Beijing and in Taipei. Sun came to be venerated in Taiwan as the father of the nation (guofu ) and in the Peoples Republic of China as a pioneer of the revolution (xianxingzhe ). The cult of Sun seems to be one common denominator across the hostile Taiwan Strait. Retreating to Taiwan after his defeat in the civil war, Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jieshi, 18871975) legitimized his Guomindang (Nationalist Party) by mythologizing Sun. Beijing stresses Suns anti-imperialist campaign and his cooperation with Soviet Russia and the Communist Party. Such accolade is not shared by Western scholars, who have tried to demythologize Sun. Marie-Claire Bergère, for instance, dubs Sun a traveling salesman of the revolution (1998, p. 139), hardly present at the countless late Qing uprisings as he shuttled among nations to raise funds from overseas Chinese communities and foreign sources. It is telling, nevertheless, that Sun was from coastal China, which was long exposed to foreign influence, and that overseas Chinese were considered the mothers of the revolution. Modernization in China has invariably followed the pattern of spreading from coastal areas inland, with Sun as an early symbol for what has continued into the twenty-first century.

In the chaotic times of the late Qing and early Republic, Sun, above all else, emerges as a paragon of revolution not necessarily because of his leadership in uprisings and politics but because of his writings. The Three Principles of the People is a compilation of his speeches, the 1924 version rendered definitive by his death more than anything else. It is an irony of history that this hodgepodge of ideas, by no means systematic and insightful, and derivative of American government apparatus, should become the sacred text for school children and university programs in Taiwan. Even the first line of Taiwans national anthem is a dull drone of The Three Principles of the People. On the other hand, The International Development of China (1922) was prescient in merging capitalism with socialism in the wake of World War I (19141918). Sun also emphasized international cooperation, urging Western powers to abolish unfair treaties that subjugated China as a subcolony (cizhimindi) and to treat China as a market for investment and a dumping ground and factory. The unfortunate choice of dumping ground revealed the psychological complex of a Westernized Chinese patriot bent upon saving China, while either pretending to identify or subconsciously identifying with Western interests. Most brilliant is Suns utopian vision for Chinas economic and industrial modernization: a network of railways; coastal development based on three major ports in the northern, central, and southern regions; mining and heavy industry; and dams and river transportation. It was yet another unfortunate choice that Sun used colonization for his plans regarding Tibet and Xinjiang, but it was a sign of the times. Suns grandiose dreams have earned him the mocking appellation Big-Gun-Sun (Sun dabao) in China, yet Deng Xiaopings (19041997) Four Modernizations program (in agriculture, industry, science and technology, and the military) echoed Suns plan closely, and the contemporary westward movement to exploit energy reserves and other resources, as well as the economic zones revolving around major Chinese seaports, coincide with Suns blueprint. In charting out a path for modernization, Sun Yat-sen was indeed visionary.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bergère, Marie-Claire. 1998. Sun Yat-sen. Trans. Janet Lloyd. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Sun Yat-sen. [1922] 1953. The International Development of China. Taipei, Taiwan: China Cultural Service.

Sun Yat-sen. 1965. Guofu quanji [Complete works of Sun Yat-sen]. Taipei, Taiwan: Archives of Guomindang.

Sheng-mei Ma

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Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen (sōōn yät-sĕn), Mandarin Sun Wen, 1866–1925, Chinese revolutionary. He was born near Guangzhou into a farm-owning family. He attended (1879–82) an Anglican boys school in Honolulu, where he came under Western influence, particularly that of Christianity. In 1892 he received a diploma from a Hong Kong medical school, and he subsequently practiced medicine in that city. Thereafter all his activities were devoted to overthrowing the Ch'ing dynasty and establishing a stable Chinese republic.

Sun fled China in 1895, after an abortive revolt, and then toured the world several times to enlist the aid of overseas Chinese in financing his activities. In that period he made an intensive study of Western political and social theory and was deeply impressed with the writings of Karl Marx and Henry George. Sun organized (1905) a revolutionary league, the T'ung Meng Hui, in Japan and gradually perfected his political conceptions, which were based on the Three People's Principles: nationalism, democracy, and the people's livelihood. Revolution erupted in China, and Sun was elected provisional president of the Chinese republic in Dec., 1911, but two months later he resigned in favor of Yüan Shih-kai. Later, when Sung Chiao-jen transformed the T'ung Meng Hui into a federated political party called the Kuomintang, Sun served as its director.

Meanwhile, opposition developed to Yüan's dictatorial methods; in 1913 Sun led an unsuccessful revolt against Yüan, and he was forced to seek asylum in Japan, where he reorganized the Kuomintang. He returned to China in 1917, and in 1921 he was elected president of a self-proclaimed national government at Guangzhou in S China. To develop the military power needed for the Northern Expedition against the militarists at Beijing, he established the Whampoa Military Academy (now Huangpu Military Academy), with Chiang Kai-shek as its commandant and with such party leaders as Wang Ching-wei and Hu Han-min as political instructors. In 1924, to hasten the conquest of China, he began a policy of active cooperation with the Chinese Communists and he accepted the help of the USSR in reorganizing the Kuomintang.

After Sun's death, when the Communists and the Kuomintang split (1927), each group claimed to be his true heirs. The official veneration of Sun's memory (especially in the Kuomintang) was a virtual cult, which centered around his tomb in Nanjing. His widow, the former Soong Ch'ing-ling (see Soong, family), whom he married in 1914, rose to a high position in the government of Communist China. He wrote San Min Chu I (tr. 1928), Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary (1927, repr. 1970), and Fundamentals of National Reconstruction (tr. 1953).

See biographies by L. Sharman (1934) and B. D. Martin (1952); L. S. Hsu, Sun Yat-sen, His Political and Social Ideals: A Sourcebook (1933); S. C. Leng and N. D. Palmer, Sun Yat-sen and Communism (1960); H. Z. Schiffrin, Sun Yat-sen and the Origins of the Chinese Revolution (1970); M. Wilbur, Sun Yat-sen (1977).

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Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925) Chinese nationalist leader, first president of the Chinese Republic (1911–12). In exile (1895–1911), he adopted his “three principles of the people”: nationalism, democracy, and prosperity. After the Revolution of 1911, he became provisional president, but soon resigned in favour of the militarily powerful Yuan Shikai. When Yuan turned autocratic, Sun gave his support to the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, formed to oppose Yuan.

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Sun Yat-sen

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