Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925)|
Dr. Sun Yat-sen was the founding father of the Republic of China. His desire was to overthrow the Manchu dynasty and modernize China along Western lines. He founded several secret societies to use force to achieve his aims. In 1895 a coup organized by him failed and for the next sixteen years he lived as an exile in Europe, the United States, and Japan; where he joined dissident groups and became their leader. After ten failed attempts at rebellion, he was finally successful in 1912, when Emperor Pu Yi abdicated from the Dragon Throne of the Manchu's. He was the founder of the Nationalist Party. He headed the revolutionary movement for a short time, before going back into exile.
He was born in 1866 in a small village in Kwangtung province. His parents were peasants. When he was thirteen he went to Honolulu with his mother where he studied in an American schools, before returning to Hong Kong at the age of eighteen. Here he attended a British College and later The College of Medicine for Chinese, where he studied to become a doctor. He converted to Christianity, and was very involved in Western ideas.
He formed several secret societies, the first of which was Hsin Chung Hui or Revive China Society, which he led from 1894 to 1905. In 1905 he formed the Tongmenghui or Sworn Chinese Brotherhood. His three aims were to "Eliminate the Manchu's, eliminate the monarchy, and open the road to socialism". By 1911 he had attempted to overthrow the government ten different times, but had failed each time.
After the death of the Dowager Empress Cixi in 1908, her nephew Pu Yi, a three-year-old child, succeeded her. The regent was the boy's Uncle Prince Chun, a conservative, who promoted all the most conservative people and fired the most powerful and able leaders, including the military commander Yuan Shikai. After the harvest failed, discontent reached its height and the time was finally right for Sun Yat-sen and the republicans. In September 1911 a rebellion against the government began in the Sichuan province after police fired on a crowd of demonstrators. Sun Yat-sen immediately returned from America and his Sworn Chinese Brotherhood went to help spread the rebellion. After three months of fighting, an assembly of the rebels at Nanjing elected Sun president of the United Provinces of China. A contest for the leadership of China now took place between Yuan Shikai and Sun Yat-sen. Sun had the democratic support of the rebels but Yuan Shikai had the backing of the army. Yuan used this power to have himself elected President of the new Republic of China in 1912. It was the first democracy in Asia.
Sun Yat-sen was always a defender of the faith. He believed in strong ideals. This can be seen as some of the things he has done. He set up a new party, the Guomindang or Nationalist Party, which won a majority of seats in the national Assembly in 1913. However Yuan Shikai was not prepared to share power with a parliament dominated by Sun Yat-sen, and in 1914 he dissolved the parliament, and in 1915 declared himself emperor. Sun Yat-sen went back into exile and directed a national campaign against Yuan Shikai in order to unify the nation. From 1917 on Sun Yat-sen and the Guomindang controlled the southern province of Guangdong. Sun Yat-sen was also a bit of a philosopher. In 1924 he announce that the policy of the Guomindang was based on three principals - national freedom, democratic government, and the people's livelihood. His aim was to unite China under his leadership, and free them from foreign intervention.
He had travelled widely and saw advanced industrial countries like Britain and Japan, which made him realize how backward and weak China was. He saw that his government was rotten, and that the world powers were treating it with total disregard. He believed that China had to become a republic, organised on modern, Western lines. This would mean the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. The Western powers refused to assist him and he turned to the USSR for help. The Russian government gave him support by sending him a diplomat to help him reorganize the Guomindang on Russian Communist lines. He was sold Russian rifles and set up a military academy to train the officers who would lead the army. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, and Chiang Kaishek became commander in chief of the new Nationalist Army.