& the Birth of a Republic?
Defeat at the hands of Japan in the Sino-Japanese War of 1895 irrevocably shattered China’s traditional sense of self-assurance, and what remained of the pre-modern Chinese world order was rapidly undermined thereafter. ... In 1898, one important official, while apparently arguing conservatively for maintaining “Chinese learning for the fundamental principles,” simultaneously also acknowledged that in a time of “drastic transformation” substantial modernizing reforms were appropriate. After 1898, even this relatively moderate approach tended to be abandoned in favor of more radical modernization. The Japanese victory in 1895 had sounded an alarm, and following the Boxer disaster in 1900, even the Qing government recognized the need for rapid reform. China had been exposed as vulnerable — a once mighty empire reduced to being the “sick man of Asia” — and in need of some fairly dramatic measures to pull itself out of the past and adjust to modern world realities. New (xin) suddenly became a highly fashionable buzzword in early twentieth-century China, beginning with the Qing Dynasty’s “new policies” and “new schools” in the first decade and reaching its climax with the “new culture” of the May Fourth Movement in the second decade of the century — epitomized by the title of its most famous journal, New Youth. (HEA, 259)
Sun Yat-sen was a Cantonese peasant by birth — born, that is, far from the traditional centers of Chinese culture and power and speaking an unintelligible local southern dialect — but in 1879, he was sent to join an older brother in Hawai’i. In Hawai’i, Sun was placed in a boarding school where the language of instruction was English. Sun became fluent in English, and he also became a Christian. He completed his formal education in Hong Kong with training in Western-style medicine. Altogether, Sun spent some thirteen years as a student or protégé of Western Protestant missionaries, and until age forty-six he lived most of his life outside China. Inspired by his intimate knowledge of the modern West, Sun hoped to create a Western-style nation-state and republic in China, sometimes specifically taking the United States as his model. (HEA, 262)Sun Yat-sen organized his first revolutionary group in Hawai’i in 1894. In 1895, he attempted his first armed revolutionary uprising in Guangzhou ... but the uprising was delayed for two days because its preparations were incomplete, and during the interval, the police discovered the plot. ... From this time until the final success of the Republican Revolution in 1911, Sun spent a total of only one night in China.
Sun spent much of his time abroad in Japan ... [but he] also spent some time in French colonial Vietnam, and he was particularly active with fund-raising in the United States and Britain. In a famous episode in 1896, Sun was kidnapped and held prisoner in the Qing legation in London. Fortunately for Sun, he was able to smuggle a message out to a British friend, who raised a clamor in the English press that forced his release. This incident catapulted Sun to a certain degree of international notoriety, but most Chinese people were probably still largely unaware of Sun and his revolutionary movement as late as the beginning of the twentieth century. However, in Tokyo, Japan, in 1905, a loose coalition of Chinese revolutionary groups was formed called the Revolutionary Alliance (Tongmenghui), with Sun Yat-sen as a central figure. (HEA, 262-3)
Provisional President of the Republic of China
January 1-March 10, 1912
The Three Principles of the People
Nationalism ~ Democracy ~ Livelihood
President of the Republic of China
December 22, 1915 - March 22, 1916
But then came ...
The May Fourth Movement
May 4, 1919
The Colonization of KoreaBy the early twentieth century, in the heyday of what is called the new imperialism, much of the entire world had been reduced to colonial status. The Japanese colony in Korea was exceptional, even so, because of the extremely large number of resident Japanese colonists and because of the high degree of intrusiveness of its colonial regime. By the 1930s, there was one policeman for roughly every four hundred Koreans, and the number of Japanese colonists in Korea was more than twenty times the number of French colonists in Vietnam. Japanese rule in Korea was, moreover, at first extremely ironfisted. After annexation, all the Japanese governors-general of Korea were active-duty generals in the imperial army, with one exception, who was a retired navy admiral. From 1910 to 1920, no Korean-owned newspapers were permitted, and all Korean political meetings and public assemblies were banned. Colonial economic policy also focused initially on the exploitation of raw materials and agriculture, and little development of modern business was envisioned, especially if it was not Japanese owned.