||The Fall of the Qing Dynasty (1900-1912)|
Most of the enemies of the Manchu Empire after the nineteenth century, were led by Sun Yatsen, a good-looking 34 year old doctor. Doctor Sun Yatsen had been educated in an American school in Hawaii and therefore he was Christian. He had spent many years of his life traveling the world. He saw how advanced technologically other countries were and realized how weak China was. He found that the only way for China to come out of its stall was for it to become a republic on European lines and getting rid of the Manchu's who opposed any change at all costs. By 1911 he had tried to start a revolution ten times but had not succeeded.
In 1908 the 73-year-old empress Dowager Cixi died. Her successor as ruler of China was her nephew, a 2-year-old boy named P'u Yi, who was given the title of Emperor. The Manchu dynasty was clearly in trouble. A regent ruled in his place, Prince Chun. Chun sided with the conservatives in the court, giving the most conservative of the Manchu prince's high positions, and he dismissed many powerful and able officials including Yuan Shikai, a very important general.
In 1911 China entered a period of economic difficulty and discontent.
The harvests failed in all the central areas of the country and this caused most of the distress among the peasants. The wealthier classes were not happy either; the government was taxing them heavily to get money for the new army.
On September 1911 a rebellion against the government began in Sichuan Province after police fired on a crowd of demonstrators, killing many of them. Sun Yatsen and his followers immediately went to Sichuan to help spread the rebellion.
On the 10th October soldiers from the new army left their base in Wuchang and joined the rising. From there the rebellion spread throughout central and southern China. The Manchu's tried to deal with the rebellion by recalling Yuan Shikai from retirement. This didn't help because he sided with the rebels who elected him president. In exchange he convinced the emperor and the regent to form a republic.
Finally on 12th February 1912 Emperor P'u Yi stepped down from the Dragon throne of the Manchu's. The edict of abdication that was issued said:
"Today the people of the whole empire have their minds bent on a republic, the southern Provinces having begun the movement, and the northern generals having subsequently supported it. The will of providence is clear and the people's wishes are plain. How could I, for the glory and honor of one family, oppose the wishes of teeming millions? Wherefore I, with the Emperor, decide that the form of government in China shall be a Constitutional Republic."