Sun Yat-sen By Xuwen Mao

Sun Yat-sen was the first president and founding father of the Republic of China. As the foremost pioneer of the Republic of China, Sun is referred to as the "Father of the Nation" in the Republic of China (ROC), Hong Kong, Macau and the "forerunner of democratic revolution" in People's Republic of China (PRC). Sun played an instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty during the years leading up to the Xinhai Revolution. He was appointed to serve as Provisional President of the Republic of China when it was founded in 1912. He later co-founded the Nationalist Party of China, serving as its first leader. On 22 October 1900, Sun launched the Huizhou uprising to attack Huizhou and provincial authorities in Guangdong.[38] This came five years after the failed Guangzhou uprising. This time, Sun appealed to the triads for help.[39] This uprising was also a failure. Miyazaki who participated in the revolt with Sun wrote an account of this revolutionary effort under the title "33-year dream" in 1902.

In 1904, Sun Yat-sen came about with the goal "to expel the Tatar barbarians (i.e. Manchu), to revive Zhonghua, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people". One of Sun's major legacies was the creation of his political philosophy of the Three Principles of the People. These Principles included the principle of nationalism (民族), of democracy (民權), and of welfare (民生).

“to expel the Tatar barbarians (i.e. Manchu), to revive Zhonghua, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people”

On 20 August 1905, Sun joined forces with revolutionary Chinese students studying in Tokyo, Japan to form the unified group Tongmenghui (United League), which sponsored uprisings in China. By 1906 the number of Tongmenghui members reached 963 people.

The Principle of Mínzú (民族主義, Mínzú Zhǔyì) is commonly rendered as "nationalism", literally "Populism" or "the People's rule/government", "Mínzú/People" clearly describing a nation rather than a group of persons united by a purpose, hence the commonly used and rather accurate translation "nationalism". By this, Sun meant independence from imperialist domination.

The Principle of Mínquán (民權主義, Mínquán Zhǔyì) is usually translated as "democracy"; literally "the People's power" or "government by the People." To Sun, it represented a Western constitutional government. He divided political life of his ideal for China into two sets of 'powers': the power of politics and the power of governance.

The Principle of Mínshēng (民生主義, Mínshēng Zhǔyì) is sometimes translated as "the People's welfare/livelihood," "Government for the People". The concept may be understood as social welfare and as a direct criticism of the inadequacies of both socialism and capitalism.

The Xinhai Revolution (Chinese: 辛亥革命), also known as the Revolution of 1911 or the Chinese Revolution (though this term may also refer to a number of other events), was a revolution that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty (the Qing dynasty), and established the Republic of China (ROC). The revolution was named Xinhai (Hsin-hai) because it occurred in 1911, the year of the Xinhai (辛亥) stem-branch in the sexagenary cycle of the Chinese calendar.

Wuchang Uprising Sculpture

The revolution consisted of many revolts and uprisings. The turning point was the Wuchang Uprising on October 10, 1911, which was the result of the mishandling of the Railway Protection Movement. The revolution ended with the abdication of the six-year-old "Last Emperor", Puyi, on February 12, 1912, that marked the end of 2,000 years of imperial rule and the beginning of China's early republican era (1912–16).

On the mainland, Sun is seen as a Chinese nationalist and proto-socialist, and is highly regarded as the Forerunner of the Revolution. He is even mentioned by name in the preamble to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. In recent years, the leadership of the Communist Party of China has increasingly invoked Sun, partly as a way of bolstering Chinese nationalism in light of Chinese economic reform and partly to increase connections with supporters of the Kuomintang on Taiwan which the PRC sees as allies against Taiwan independence. Sun's tomb was one of the first stops made by the leaders of both the Kuomintang and the People First Party on their pan-blue visit to mainland China in 2005. A massive portrait of Sun continues to appear in Tiananmen Square for May Day and National Day.

Mao Zedong highly commented the life of Sun in his article, “纪念孙中山先生”. He commented Sun as "The flag of Chinese democracy revolution". Since Sun had left a lot of beneficial political ideas, Mao memorized that Sun have prompted Chinese people to overthrow the rule of the empire of Qing. To set up the new republic order, he suggested new Three Principles of the People.

Huixiang Pan in The Chinese University of Hong Kong thought that Sun misunderstood the western revolutionary democracy politic. Sun chose anti-democratic way to achieve his goal in revolution. His thoughts influenced the Chinese government in next 20 years to solve problems in fierce and violent ways. So that the new Chinese government in 1910-1930 could sacrifice personal freedom to achieve "bigger freedom".

Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Xiaobo Liu thought that Sun's heritage in politic is violent revolution and leninist party. A lot of source of historical materials proved that Sun was a radical revolutioner and arbitrary dictator. After studying the behavior before Sun's death, Liu thought that if Sun could be a totalitarian emperor after Sun united the whole China.

In conclusion, Sun Yat-sen was a hero of China in 20's century. Whatever the goals and his ways to achieve revolution, the fact is that his influence prompted China from half colony into a new era of democracy. Although comments from the descendent was not all positive, his new type of democratic ideas have already been rooted in people's mind now.


  1. Tung, William L. [1968] (1968). The political institutions of modern China. Springer publishing. ISBN 9789024705528. p 92. P106.
  2. Tingyou Chen, Chinese Calligraphy, Cambridge University Press (2011), p. 113
  3. Sharman, Lyon (1968). Sun Yat-sen: His life and its meaning, a critical biography. Stanford: Stanford University Press. pp. 94, 271.
  4. Li Chien-Nung, translated by Teng, Ssu-yu, Jeremy Ingalls. The political history of China, 1840–1928. (Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand, 1956; rpr. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-0602-6, ISBN 978-0-8047-0602-5. pg 203-206.
  5. 王恆偉. (2005) (2006) 中國歷史講堂#5 清. 中華書局. ISBN 962-8885-28-6. p 146.
  6. 毛泽东:孙中山是伟大的革命先行者
  7. 晚年孙中山. 香港中文大学《二十一世纪》. 2003年3月31日.
  8. 刘晓波:喉舌思想的始作俑者——孙中山. 博讯. 2006年4月18日.


Created with images by Gene Zhang - "Sun Yat-sen" • chengpeng1978 - "museum sun yat sen sculpture"

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