Centennial celebrations of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 across the Taiwan Straits

by Chin Jin

On the Double Ten Day (i.e. 10th October) in 1911, which was the 19th day of the 8th lunar month of the Year of Xinhai, a gunshot in Wuchang heralded the demise of thousands of years of history of Chinese absolute monarchy.

The Revolutionaries who were led by Dr Sun Yat-sen triggered the Revolution of 1911; while the powerful Beiyang Faction, headed by Yuan Shikai, followed the historic trend and forced the emperor to abdicate, creating a Chinese version of the Glorious Revolution. Those on the inside and the outside of the Qing Dynasty establishment collaborated and united to establish the first democratic republic in Asia.

History is evolving and the world is developing. But this is not the case for China. 100 years have passed, but China has returned to the eve of the Revolution of 1911. China briefly became a republic and had a short lived democracy which was far from perfection. The establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 did not enable the Chinese people to stand up. Rather it forced all of them to kneel down without dignity. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping are the real emperors without royal gowns, controlling the lives of every single person in the People's Republic of China. The only single factor which differentiates them from the former ancient absolute monarchy is that they changed the ruler of the country from a family to a political party.

The governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait solemnly carried out the centennial celebration of the Revolution of 1911. Mainland China, in particular, made quite a few remarkable maneuvers. The memorial and celebration of this event by mainland China was broadcast as an unusually high profile event. Key figures of the Chinese Communist Party displayed serious commitment to this event. Hu Jintao delivered a speech, highly praising Dr. Sun Yat-sen as the great pioneer of the Chinese democratic revolution. Hu also proclaimed that Chinese Communists are the foremost steadfast supporters, the closest collaborator, and the most loyal successor of the revolution initiated by Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

This is absurd. Official accounts  describe the Revolution of 1911as a Bourgeois Democratic Revolution. On the contrary, the Chinese Communists initiated a Proletarian Revolution, which had nothing to do with the Revolution of 1911. The Chinese Communist Revolution overthrew the 'reactionary Nationalist Government', whilst it was actually the latter which truly embodied the thoughts of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, particularly the Three Principles of the People.

If the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) had been unable to recover Taiwan from Japan in 1945, the Republic of China would have already gone into history. How is it, after 60 odd years' evolution, the party which overthrew the government that upheld the spirits which underlie the Revolution of 1911, can claim to become 'a steadfast supporter, a close collaborator and a loyal successor' of the latter? In the same way, is it reasonable to say that the Republic of China is the successor of the Manchurian (Qing) Dynasty? It is true that the Republic of China inherited the territory of the Manchurian Dynasty, only to cede Outer Mongolia to the Yalta Treaty signed by Roosevelt and Stalin due to its own weakness. Nevertheless, the Republic of China created a genuine republic according to its political ideals.

On the contrary, the People's Republic of China toppled the 'reactionary Nationalists' who inherited Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People, creating a communist "utopian" totalitarian regime instead.

If we anticipate a good outcome, the Chinese Communist Government could maybe consider changing the title of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of China, force the Republic of China in Taiwan to unify with it, abandon its political system, welcome its political rivalry Ma Ying Jeou, and administer mainland China along the lines of the Taiwanese democratic model. .

On October 10th, Ma Ying Jeou appeared to be warm and sincere when delivering his speech at the centennial jubilee celebrating the establishment of the Republic of China. '(I,) Ying Jeou, shall appeal to the authority in mainland China at this very moment that to commemorate Double Ten and the Revolution of 1911, one shall not forget the ideal of Dr. Sun Yat-sen when he founded the Republic of China, namely to build a liberal, democratic and equitable country,' said Ma.

'Mainland China should move towards this ideal courageously.

Only in this way can the gap between the two political entities on either side of the strait be narrowed. To commemorate Double Ten, one shall not separate it from its historical background. Rather, one should face the historical and current reality that the Republic of China still exists.

Objectively speaking, the communist movement overran China in 1949, forcing the Republic of China, the first democratic republic in Asia, into exile in Taiwan after the former's military victory in the Civil War. This is a restoration of an autocratic dynasty in China. The Revolution of 1911 managed to overthrow the absolute monarchy which ruled China for thousands of years, I ask then what is the real purpose of celebrating the centennial anniversary of this historic event? It is not only to remember and commemorate that revolution in the past, but also to rediscover its underlying spirits, the ideals of those who sacrificed their lives for the success of the revolution.

To seek democracy and liberty, to redo the work of the Revolution of 1911, is the historic responsibility and mission of the Chinese people.

Chin Jin is an M.A. graduate of the University of Western Sydney and Chair of the Federation For A Democratic China, Australia.

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