Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925)

Portrait of Sun Yat-sen. The photo is believed to have been taken in 1911, when Sun returned from abroad. He gave the photo to Zaifeng, then-regent of the Sun Qing Dynasty. The photo then stayed in Zaifeng’s home until the early 1950s, when Pu Ren (Jin Youzhi), the son of Zaifeng, donated the photo to the National Museum of China.

Who was Sun Yat-sen?

Sun Yat-sen, also known as Sun Zhongshan, was a Chinese revolutionary, politician, and founding father of the Republic of China (ROC). He played a crucial role in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912.

The Chinese revolutionary was born on November 12, 1866, in Cuiheng, a village in Guangdong province, China. He came from a farming family and received a traditional Chinese education before studying medicine in Hawaii and Hong Kong. It was during his time abroad that Sun was exposed to Western political and philosophical ideas, which influenced his revolutionary thinking.

In 1894, Sun Yat-sen founded the Revive China Society, a secret organization dedicated to overthrowing the Qing Dynasty and establishing a republican government. He believed that China needed a democratic system based on the principles of nationalism, democracy, and the livelihood of the people. His political philosophy came to be known as the Three People’s Principles or San-min Doctrine.

Sun’s revolutionary activities faced numerous challenges and setbacks, including failed uprisings and exile. However, in 1911, a successful uprising known as the Wuchang Uprising broke out, leading to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

Sun Yat-sen was declared the provisional president of the Republic of China, marking the end of imperial rule and the beginning of a new era. However, his presidency (1 January 1912 – 10 March 1912) was short-lived, as he stepped down in favor of Yuan Shikai, a powerful military leader of the Qing Dynasty.

Notable Works by Sun Yat-Sen

Throughout his life, Sun Yat-sen continued to advocate for democratic reforms and worked to unify China. He founded the Kuomintang (KMT), also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party, which became a major political force in the country. His Three Principles of the People, which included nationalism, democracy, and people’s livelihood, served as the ideological basis for the KMT.

Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a modern, democratic China faced significant challenges, including warlordism, foreign intervention, and internal divisions. He spent much of his life in political struggles and negotiations, aiming to unite the country and achieve his goals.

Death and Legacy

On March 12, 1925, in Beijing, Sun Yat-sen died. He was 58. The generally accepted view is that the revolutionary and Chinese statesman died of liver cancer.

After his death, Sun Yat-sen was honored as the “Father of the Nation” in the Republic of China and remains a revered figure in both mainland China and Taiwan. In mainland China, i.e. the People’s Republic of China, he is praised as the “Forerunner of the Revolution” for his tireless effort in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. Without a shred of doubt, his ideas and contributions to the Chinese revolution played a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of modern China.