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Friday, Oct. 14, 2011
Sun Yat-sen's lasting legacy
A military uprising on Oct. 10, 1911, in Wuchang, China, marked the start of the Xinhai Revolution. On Monday, both the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing and the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) in Taipei celebrated the 100th anniversary of the revolution, regarding themselves as the legitimate inheritor of the revolutionary tradition.
China had become a quasi-colony of Western powers following the two Opium Wars (Anglo-Chinese Wars) in the mid-19th century. Sun Yat-sen led the revolutionary movement under the Three Principles of the People: nationalism, democracy and the people's livelihood.
In 1905, Sun and his comrades established in Tokyo the United League (Tongmeng Hui), the predecessor of the Nationalist Party. The Xinhai Revolution ended more than 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. On Jan. 1, 1912, Sun became provisional president of the Republic of China. But one month later, Yuan Shikai took the post. In February that year, the Qing dynasty's last emperor, Puyi, abdicated.
In celebrating the 100th anniversary of the revolution, in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Chinese President Hu Jintao said, "Patriotism is the soul of the Chinese nation and a powerful force mobilizing and uniting the whole nation to strive to revitalize China."
Apparently he stressed the nationalist side of Sun's principles to overcome problems in today's China, such as the great gap between the rich and the poor, and minority ethnic groups' "splitist" tendencies. He said, "We must consolidate and expand the broadest possible patriotic united front and foster harmonious relations between political parties, between ethnic groups, between religions, between social strata and between compatriots at home and overseas."
In Taipei, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said that Sun's ideals — freedom, democracy and people's equal affluence — have been fully realized in Taiwan, not in China.
In a speech on Pan-Asianism in Kobe in November 1924, Sun called on Japan to stop attempting to attain hegemony in Asia. Although many Japanese aided Sun's revolutionary movement, Japan disregarded Sun's admonishments and embarked on military aggression against China in the 1930s and 1940s. Japan should never forget its mistakes.
For its part, China should also humbly remember Sun's criticism of the "way of hegemony," in view of its current military and economic endeavors designed to maximize its influence not only in Asia but in other parts of the world.