Evaluate the importance of Sun Yixian’s (Sun Yat-sen’s) role in bringing about the 1911 Revolution in China. Sun Yat-sen’s role in the 1911 revolution against the Qing dynasty was an indirect one. Sun Yat-sen was exiled in the United States during the events of the Wuchang Uprising of October 10th, 1911, hearing about it through a newspaper publication in Denver, Colorado. Many Historians view Sun’s accession as the provisional President of the Republic of China, directly following the revolution, as due to his position as a “compromise candidate”(Bergere, Marie-Clare, Sun Yat-sen, 1994, p. 2). This interpretation holds Sun Yat-sen as a respected but unimportant figure in the revolution, serving as an ideal compromise between the revolutionaries and the conservative gentry. However, perspectives differ, Sun Yat-sen is credited for the funding of the revolutionary movement and for “keeping the spirit of revolution alive”(MacFarquhar, Roderick, Cambridge History of China: The People’s Republic, 1998, p. 261), despite a series of previous failed uprisings.Order now
His ability to be flexible in his ideology and merge the political beliefs of smaller revolutionary groups into a single larger party also provided a better power base for the officers and soldiers of the New Army at Wuchang. Sun Yat-sen’s role in the 1911 revolution was as an ideological leader rather than as a direct military opponent against the Qing dynasty. The view that Sun Yat-sen’s role in the revolution of 1911 was as a compromise candidate was defined by his wide sphere of influence and accessibility to all factions of early 20th century Chinese society.
At age 13, Sun Yat-sen went to live with his expatriate brother Sun Mei, in Honolulu, Hawaii. In this period, Sun Yat-sen received an education from British Christian missionaries, instilling western principles and the political ideals of democracy and socialism into his perspective on China. After visiting China in 1883, Sun Yat-sen was appalled by what he perceived as a backward governmental system, criticising the exorbitant taxes and levies placed upon the impoverished Chinese people. 3] Sun Yat-sen’s egalitarian ideals were shaped by these experiences and these ideals were the basis for his appeal to the lower classes, the largest strata group within China at the time. Despite this influence with the lower classes, Sun Yat-sen did not ignore the gentry. Sun Yat-sen quit his medical education and aligned himself with reformists, Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao, seeking to transform China into a constitutional monarchy. His initial revolutionary action was to write a lengthy letter to Li Hongzhang, the governor general of Zhili and a reformer in the court, suggesting drastic political reform.
His efforts were rebuffed. Sun Yat-sen had never been trained in the Confucian classics, thus the gentry did not full accept him within their circles. However, on the 29th of December when it came to electing a Provisional President for the newly established Republic of China, the representatives from the provinces ignored Sun Yat-sen’s lack of traditional education, perceiving him better equipped then his revolutionary rival, Huang Xing, who had a direct role in the Wuchang Uprising.
Although Sun Yat-sen was in exile from China in October 1911, his ideological and financial contributions to the revolution are evident. In October 1894, after visiting China, Sun Yat-sen founded the Revive China Society to unveil his political and sociological ideologies. Sun Yat-sen based his idea of revolution on three principles: nationalism, democracy and socialism. The first of these held that Chinese government ought to be in the hands of the Chinese rather than a foreign imperial house. Government should be republican and democratically elected.
Finally, disparities in land ownership are to be equalised among the people, wealth more evenly distributed, and the social effects of unbridled capitalism and government should mitigate commerce. The latter principle involved the nationalisation of land; Sun Yat-sen believed that land ownership allows too much power to accrue to the hands of landlords. In his nationalization theory, people would be deprived of the right to own land, but they could still retain other rights over the land by permission of the state. Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary ideas extensively influenced formation of the New Army, responsible for the revolution of 1911.
Through his early revolutionary actions and a failed military coup in 1895, Sun Yat-sen was exiled for sixteen years, campaigning and raising monetary aid in Europe, the United States and in Japan. In Japan, Sun Yat-sen joined dissident Chinese groups, a pre-cursor to the Tongmenghui, becoming their leader and gaining a large amount of financial support from Japanese democratic revolutionary, Miyazaki Toten. Sun Yat-Sen smuggled this financial aid into China through his supporters, directly financing weapons and ammunitions, much of which was utilised in the revolution by the New Army.
Sun Yat-sen’s ideology remained flexible; this had a homogenising effect on the revolutionary factions involved in the Wuchang rebellion and more widely, the Xinhai Revolution. Sun Yat-sen’s political ideologies reflected their intended audience as much as his personal convictions. He presented himself as a strident nationalist to the nationalists, as a socialist to the socialists and an anarchist to the anarchists, declaring in 1898, “the goal of the three principles of the people is to create socialism and anarchism”(Reynolds, Douglas R. China, 1895-1912: State Sponsored Reforms and Qing Revolution, London, 1995). This flexibility allowed his ideology and belief system to become popular in all factions of the nationalist movement, making, Sun Yat-sen a key figure. The consolidation of nationalist power through Sun Yat-sen’s doctrine, enabled the revolutionary force to become a single political and social movement. Although not directly involved in the events of the Wuchang Uprising in 1911, Sun Yat-sen was an ideological leader for the revolutionaries responsible.
His subsequent election as Provisional President of the Republic of China, was due to his position as a “compromise candidate”, more accessible to the Chinese gentry than his revolutionary rival, Huang Xing. Sun Yat-sen’s tireless efforts in gaining financial aid, internationally throughout his exile, directly impacted the 1911 Revolution, by providing military provisions to the rebel forces. His ability to homogenise the many factions of revolutionary thinking, present in late 19th century China, gave the revolutionaries greater political and military power then ever before, enabling the Wuchang rebellion to take place.
Sun Yat-sen’s socio-political theology engaged with the Chinese people’s meta-narrative and sense of injustice, inspiring and influencing political change in an empire which, had been under the same governmental system for two thousand years. References: Wasserstrom, Jeffrey, Twentieth Century China: New Approaches, Routledge, New York, 2001 This literary source was fantastic as an overview of early twentieth century China. Although, not containing very specific information about Sun Yat-sen, it did provide a context and base of information for my essay. Reynolds, Douglas R. China, 1895-1912: State Sponsored Reforms and Qing Revolution, M. E Sharpe, London, 1995 This text provided a huge amount of information about Sun Yat-sen’s theology, even showing it’s flexibility. The text also contained a fantastic quote from Sun Yat-sen in 1898, further illustrating this. Gordon, David, Sun Yat-sen: Seeking a Newer China, Prentice Hall, London, 2008 This new published source contained very specific information about Sun Yat-sen. The source was somewhat biographical rather than analytical in nature but provide me with much needed background information and supporting evidence.
Bergere, Marie-Clare, Sun Yat-sen, Cooper , London, 1994 This is the most famous source on Sun Yat-sen and I was not the only person to have requested it at the National Library. This source contained a wealth of information, not only about Sun Yat-sen’s life but also critically analysing his ideologies. MacFarquhar, Roderick, Cambridge History of China: The People’s Republic, 1998 This was a rather intimidating source, coming in many volumes. It provides a significant amount of information about Sun Yat-sen’s dealings in Japan during his exile. This was useful in supporting my point about his fundraising efforts. ———————- Wasserstrom, Jeffrey, Twentieth Century China: New Approaches, Routledge, New York, 2001, p. 194 Bergere, Marie-Clare, Sun Yat-sen, Cooper , London, 1994, p. 23 Reynolds, Douglas R. , China, 1895-1912: State Sponsored Reforms and Qing Revolution, M. E Sharpe, London, 1995, p. 62 Gordon, David, Sun Yat-sen: Seeking a Newer China, Prentice Hall, London, 2008, p. 174 Bergere, Marie-Clare, Sun Yat-sen, Cooper , London, 1994, p. 23 MacFarquhar, Roderick, Cambridge History of China: The People’s Republic, 1998, p. 112