Sun Yat-sen (; born Sun Deming; 12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925)
[Singtao daily. Saturday edition. 23 October 2010. section A18. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition .]
was a Chinese statesman, physician, and political philosopher
, who served as the provisional first president of the Republic of China
and the first leader of the Kuomintang
(Nationalist Party of China). He is referred as the "Father of the Nation
" in the Republic of China, and as the "Forerunner of the Revolution" in the People's Republic of China for his instrumental role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty during the Xinhai Revolution
. Sun is unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for being widely revered in both mainland China and Taiwan.
Sun is considered to be one of the greatest leaders of modern China, but his political life was one of constant struggle and frequent exile. After the success of the revolution in 1911, he quickly resigned as President of the newly founded Republic of China and relinquished it to Yuan Shikai
. He soon went to exile in Japan for safety but returned to found a revolutionary government in the South as a challenge to the warlords
who controlled much of the nation. In 1923, he invited representatives of the Communist International
to Canton to re-organize his party and formed a brittle alliance with the Chinese Communist Party
. He did not live to see his party unify the country under his successor, Chiang Kai-shek
, in the Northern Expedition
. He died in Beijing of gallbladder cancer
on 12 March 1925.
Sun's chief legacy is his political philosophy known as the Three Principles of the People
: Mínzú (民族主義, Mínzú Zhǔyì) or nationalism (independence from foreign domination), Mínquán (民權主義, Mínquán Zhǔyì) or "rights of the people" (sometimes translated as "democracy"), and Mínshēng (民生主義, Mínshēng Zhǔyì) or people's livelihood (sometimes translated as "communitarianism" or "welfare").
Sun's genealogical name
was Sun Deming (''Syūn Dāk-mìhng''; ).
As a child, his pet name
was Tai Tseung (''Dai-jeuhng''; ).
When in school, the teacher named him Sun Wen (Cantonese
: ''Syūn Màhn''; ), which was the name Sun called himself in the most time of his life. Sun's courtesy name
was Zaizhi (''Jai-jī''; ), and his baptized name was Rixin (''Yaht-sān''; ).
While at school in Hong Kong he got the art name
Sūn Zhōngshān (), the most popular of his Chinese names, is derived from his Japanese name
''Nakayama Shō'' (), the pseudonym given to him by Tōten Miyazaki
while in hiding in Japan.
Birthplace and early life
Sun Deming was born on 12 November 1866 to Sun Dacheng and Madame Yang
His birthplace was the village of Cuiheng
, Xiangshan County
He had a cultural background of Hakka
. His father owned very little land and worked as a tailor in Macau
, and as a journeyman and a porter. After finishing primary education, he moved to Honolulu
in the Kingdom of Hawaii
, where he lived a comfortable life of modest wealth supported by his elder brother Sun Mei.
He obtained secondary schooling in Hawaii.
At the age of 10, Sun began seeking schooling,
and he met childhood friend Lu Haodong
By age 13 in 1878, after receiving a few years of local schooling, Sun went to live with his elder brother, Sun Mei
() in Honolulu
Sun Mei financed Sun Yat-sen's education and would later be a major contributor for the overthrow of the Manchus.
During his stay in Honolulu, Sun Yat-sen went to ʻIolani School
where he studied English, British history
, science, and Christianity.
While he was originally unable to speak English, Sun Yat-sen quickly picked up the language and received a prize for academic achievement from King David Kalākaua
before graduating in 1882.
He then attended Oahu College
(now known as Punahou School
) for one semester.
In 1883 he was sent home to China as his brother was becoming worried that Sun Yat-sen was beginning to embrace Christianity.
When he returned to China in 1883 at age 17, Sun met up with his childhood friend Lu Haodong again at Beijidian (), a temple in Cuiheng Village.
They saw many villagers worshipping the Beiji (literally ''North Pole
'') Emperor-God in the temple, and were dissatisfied with their ancient healing methods.
They broke the statue, incurring the wrath of fellow villagers, and escaped to Hong Kong.
While in Hong Kong in 1883 he studied at the Diocesan Boys' School
, and from 1884 to 1886 he was at The Government Central School
In 1886 Sun studied medicine at the Guangzhou Boji Hospital
under the Christian missionary John G. Kerr
According to his book "Kidnapped in London," Sun in 1887 heard of the opening of the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese
(the forerunner of The University of Hong Kong
) and immediately decided to benefit from the "advantages it offered."
Ultimately, he earned the license of Christian practice as a medical doctor
from there in 1892.
Notably, of his class of 12 students, Sun was one of the only two who graduated.
[Singtao daily. 28 February 2011. 特別策劃 section A10. Sun Yat-sen Xinhai revolution 100th anniversary edition.] [South China morning post. Birth of Sun heralds dawn of revolutionary era for China. 11 November 1999.]
Religious views and Christian baptism
In the early 1880s, Sun Mei sent his brother to ʻIolani School
, which was under the supervision of British Anglicans
and directed by an Anglican prelate named Alfred Willis
, with the language of instruction being English
. At the school, a young Sun Wen first came in contact with Christianity. In his work, Schriffin speculated that Christianity was to have a great influence on Sun's future political career.
Sun Yat-sen and Christianity.
Sun was later Baptism|baptized
in Hong Kong
(on 4 May 1884) by Rev. C. R. Hager
an American missionary of the Congregational Church of the United States (ABCFM
) to his brother's disdain. The minister would also develop a friendship with Sun.
[Soong, (1997) p. 151-178]
Sun attended To Tsai Church (), founded by the London Missionary Society
while he studied Western Medicine in Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese
. Sun pictured a revolution as similar to the salvation mission of the Christian church
. His conversion to Christianity was related to his revolutionary ideals and push for advancement.
Transformation into a revolutionary
During the Qing-dynasty
rebellion around 1888, Sun was in Hong Kong with a group of revolutionary thinkers who were nicknamed the Four Bandits
at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese
[Bard, Solomon. ''Voices from the past: Hong Kong, 1842–1918''. 002(2002). HK university press. , . p. 183.]
Sun, who had grown increasingly frustrated
by the conservative Qing government and its refusal to adopt knowledge from the more technologically advanced Western nations, quit his medical practice in order to devote his time to transforming China.
Furen and Revive China Society
In 1891, Sun met revolutionary friends in Hong Kong including Yeung Ku-wan
who was the leader and founder of the Furen Literary Society
[Curthoys, Ann. Lake, Marilyn. 005(2005). Connected worlds: history in transnational perspective. ANU publishing. , . pg 101.]
The group was spreading the idea of overthrowing the Qing. In 1894, Sun wrote an 8,000 character petition to Qing Viceroy Li Hongzhang
presenting his ideas for modernizing China.
[Wei, Julie Lee. Myers Ramon Hawley. Gillin, Donald G. 994(1994). ''Prescriptions for saving China: selected writings of Sun Yat-sen''. Hoover press. , .]
He traveled to Tianjin
to personally present the petition to Li but was not granted an audience. After this experience, Sun turned irrevocably toward revolution. He left China for Hawaii and founded the Revive China Society
, which was committed to revolutionizing China's prosperity. Members were drawn mainly from Chinese expatriates, especially the lower social classes. The same month in 1894 the Furen Literary Society was merged with the Hong Kong chapter of the Revive China Society.
Thereafter, Sun became the secretary of the newly merged Revive China society, which Yeung Ku-wan headed as president.
[(Chinese) Yang, Bayun; Yang, Xing'an (November 2010). ''Yeung Ku-wan – A Biography Written by a Family Member''. Bookoola. p. 17. ]
They disguised their activities in Hong Kong under the running of a business under the name "Kuen Hang Club" ().
First Sino-Japanese War
In 1895, China suffered a serious defeat during the First Sino-Japanese War
. There were two types of responses. One group of intellectuals contended that the Manchu
Qing government could restore its legitimacy by successfully modernizing.
[Bevir, Mark. 010(2010). Encyclopedia of Political Theory. Sage publishing. , . pg 168.]
Stressing that overthrowing the Manchu would result in chaos and would lead to China being carved up by imperialists, intellectuals like Kang Youwei
and Liang Qichao
supported responding with initiatives like the Hundred Days' Reform
In another faction, Sun Yat-sen and others like Zou Rong
wanted a revolution to replace the dynastic system with a modern nation-state in the form of a republic.
The Hundred Days' reform turned out to be a failure by 1898.
From uprising to exile
First Guangzhou uprising
In the second year of the establishment of the Revive China society on 26 October 1895, the group planned and launched the First Guangzhou uprising
against the Qing in Guangzhou
directed the uprising starting from Hong Kong.
However, plans were leaked out and more than 70 members, including Lu Haodong
, were captured by the Qing government. The uprising was a failure. Sun received financial support mostly from his brother who sold most of his 12,000 acres of ranch and cattle in Hawaii.
Additionally, members of his family and relatives of Sun would take refuge at the home of his brother Sun Mei at Kamaole in Kula
Exile in Japan
Sun Yat-sen spent time living in Japan while in exile. He was supported by the Japanese politician Tōten Miyazaki
. Most Japanese who actively worked with Sun were motivated by a pan-Asian
opposition to Western imperialism
. While in Japan, Sun also met and befriended Mariano Ponce
, then a diplomat of the First Philippine Republic
. During the Philippine Revolution
and the Filipino-American War
, Sun helped Ponce procure weapons salvaged from the Japanese military
and ship the weapons to the Philippines
. By helping the Philippine Republic, Sun hoped that the Filipinos would win their independence so that he could use the archipelago as a staging point of another revolution. However, as the war ended in July 1902, the United States
emerged victorious from a bitter 3-year war against the Republic. Therefore, the Filipino dream of independence vanished with Sun's hopes of allying with the Philippines in his revolution in China.
Huizhou uprising in China
On 22 October 1900, Sun launched the Huizhou uprising
to attack Huizhou
and provincial authorities in Guangdong. This came five years after the failed Guangzhou uprising. This time, Sun appealed to the triads
for help. This uprising was also a failure. Miyazaki, who participated in the revolt with Sun, wrote an account of this revolutionary effort under the title "33-year dream" () in 1902.
Sun was in exile not only in Japan but also in Europe, the United States, and Canada. He raised money for his revolutionary party and to support uprisings in China. While the events leading up to it are unclear, in 1896 Sun Yat-sen was detained at the Chinese Legation in London
, where the Chinese Imperial secret service planned to smuggle him back to China to execute him for his revolutionary actions. He was released after 12 days through the efforts of James Cantlie
, ''The Globe
'', ''The Times
'', and the Foreign Office
; leaving Sun a hero in Britain. James Cantlie, Sun's former teacher at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, maintained a lifelong friendship with Sun and would later write an early biography of Sun. Sun wrote a book in 1897 about his detention, titled "Kidnapped in London."
Heaven and Earth Society, overseas travel
A "Heaven and Earth Society" sect known as Tiandihui
had been around for a long time.
[João de Pina-Cabral. 002(2002). Between China and Europe: person, culture and emotion in Macao. Berg publishing. , . pg 209.]
The group has also been referred to as the "three cooperating organizations" as well as the triads
Sun Yat-sen mainly used this group to leverage his overseas travels to gain further financial and resource support for his revolution.
According to the New York Times "Sun Yat-sen left his village in Guangdong, southern China, in 1879 to join a brother in Hawaii. He eventually returned to China and from there moved to the British colony of Hong Kong
in 1883. It was there that he received his Western education, his Christian faith and the money for revolution."
This is where Sun Yat-sen realized that China needed to change its ways. He knew that the only way that China would change and modernize would be to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.
According to Lee Yun-ping, chairman of the Chinese historical society, Sun needed a certificate to enter the United States at a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
would have otherwise blocked him.
However, on Sun's first attempt to enter the US, he was still arrested.
He was later bailed out after 17 days.
In March 1904, while residing in Kula
, Sun Yat-sen obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, issued by the Territory of Hawaii
, stating that "he was born in the Hawaiian Islands
on the 24th day of November, A.D. 1870."
He renounced it after it served its purpose to circumvent the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
[Smyser, A.A. (2000)]
''Sun Yat-sen's strong links to Hawaii''
Honolulu Star Bulletin. "Sun renounced it in due course. It did, however, help him circumvent the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which became applicable when Hawaii was annexed to the United States in 1898."
Official files of the United States show that Sun had United States nationality, moved to China with his family at age 4, and returned to Hawaii 10 years later.
[ Note that one immigration official recorded that Sun Yat-sen was born in Kula, a district of Maui, Hawaii.]
In 1904, Sun Yat-sen came about with the goal "to expel the Tatar
barbarians (i.e. Manchu
), to revive Zhonghua
, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land
equally among the people" ().
[計秋楓, 朱慶葆. 001(2001). 中國近代史, Volume 1. Chinese university press. , . pg 468.]
One of Sun's major legacies was the creation of his political philosophy of the Three Principles of the People
. These Principles included the principle of nationalism (minzu, ), of democracy (minquan, ), and of welfare (minsheng, ).
On 20 August 1905, Sun joined forces with revolutionary Chinese students studying in Tokyo to form the unified group Tongmenghui
(United League), which sponsored uprisings in China.
By 1906 the number of Tongmenghui members reached 963 people.
thumb|The Sun Yat-sen Museum
in George Town
, Penang, Malaysia, where he planned the Xinhai Revolution
Sun's notability and popularity extends beyond the Greater China
region, particularly to Nanyang
(Southeast Asia), where a large concentration of overseas Chinese
resided in Malaya
and Singapore). While in Singapore, he met local Chinese merchants Teo Eng Hock (), Tan Chor Nam () and Lim Nee Soon (), which mark the commencement of direct support from the Nanyang Chinese. The Singapore chapter of the Tongmenghui was established on 6 April 1906,
[Yan, Qinghuang. 008(2008). The Chinese in Southeast Asia and beyond: socioeconomic and political dimensions. World Scientific publishing. , . pg 182–187.]
though some records claim the founding date to be end of 1905.
used by Sun was known as Wan Qing Yuan
At this point Singapore was the headquarters of the Tongmenghui.
Thus, after founding the Tong Meng Hui, Dr Sun advocated the establishment of The Chong Shing Yit Pao as the alliance's mouthpiece to promote revolutionary ideas. Later, he initiated the establishment of reading clubs across Singapore and Malaysia, in order to disseminate revolutionary ideas among the lower class through public readings of newspaper stories. The United Chinese Library, founded on 8 August 1910, was one such reading club, first set up at leased property on the second floor of the Wan He Salt Traders in North Boat Quay.
The first actual United Chinese Library building was built between 1908 and 1911 below Fort Canning – 51 Armenian Street, commenced operations in 1912. The library was set up as a part of the 50 reading rooms by the Chinese Republicans to serve as an information station and liaison point for the revolutionaries. In 1987, the library was moved to its present site at Cantonment Road. But the Armenian Street building is still intact with the plaque at its entrance with Sun Yat Sen's words. With an initial membership of over 400, the library has about 180 members today. Although the United Chinese Library, with 102 years of history, was not the only reading club in Singapore during the time, today it is the only one of its kind remaining.
In 1903, Sun made a secret trip to Bangkok
in which he sought funds for his cause in Southeast Asia. His loyal followers published newspapers, providing invaluable support to the dissemination of his revolutionary principles and ideals among Chinese descent
in Thailand. In Bangkok, Sun visited Yaowarat Road
, in Bangkok's Chinatown
. It was on this street that Sun gave a speech claiming that overseas Chinese were "the Mother of the Revolution". He also met local Chinese merchants Seow Houtseng, whose sent financial support to him.
Sun's speech on Yaowarat street was commemorated by the street later being named "Sun Yat Sen Street" or "Soi Sun Yat Sen" ( th|ซอยซุนยัตเซ็น) in his honour.
On 1 December 1907, Sun led the Zhennanguan uprising
against the Qing at Friendship Pass
, which is the border between Guangxi
[Khoo, Salma Nasution. 008(2008). Sun Yat Sen in Penang. Areca publishing. , .]
The uprising failed after seven days of fighting.
In 1907 there were a total of four uprisings that failed including Huanggang uprising
, Huizhou seven women lake uprising
and Qinzhou uprising
In 1908 two more uprisings failed one after another including Qin-lian uprising
and Hekou uprising
Because of these failures, Sun's leadership was challenged by elements from within the Tongmenghui who wished to remove him as leader. In Tokyo 1907–1908 members from the recently merged Restoration society
raised doubts about Sun's credentials.
Tao Chengzhang () and Zhang Binglin
publicly denounced Sun with an open leaflet called "A declaration of Sun Yat-sen's criminal acts by the revolutionaries in Southeast Asia".
This was printed and distributed in reformist newspapers like Nanyang Zonghui Bao.
Their goal was to target Sun as a leader leading a revolt for profiteering
The revolutionaries were polarized and split between pro-Sun and anti-Sun camps.
Sun publicly fought off comments about how he had something to gain financially from the revolution.
However, by 19 July 1910, the Tongmenghui headquarters had to relocate from Singapore to Penang
to reduce the anti-Sun activities.
It is also in Penang that Sun and his supporters would launch the first Chinese "daily" newspaper, the Kwong Wah Yit Poh
in December 1910.
To sponsor more uprisings, Sun made a personal plea for financial aid at the Penang conference
held on 13 November 1910 in Malaya
The leaders launched a major drive for donations across the Malay Peninsula
They raised HK$
On 27 April 1911, revolutionary Huang Xing
led a second Guangzhou uprising known as the Yellow Flower Mound revolt
against the Qing. The revolt failed and ended in disaster; the bodies of only 72 revolutionaries were found.
[王恆偉. (2005) (2006) 中國歷史講堂 No. 5 清. 中華書局. . p 195-198.]
The revolutionaries are remembered as martyrs
On 10 October 1911, a military uprising at Wuchang
took place led again by Huang Xing
. At the time, Sun had no direct involvement as he was still in exile. Huang was in charge of the revolution that ended over 2000 years of imperial rule in China. When Sun learned of the successful rebellion against the Qing emperor
from press reports, he returned to China from the United States accompanied by his closest foreign advisor, the American, "General" Homer Lea
. He met Lea in London, where he and Lea unsuccessfully tried to arrange British financing for the new Chinese republic. Sun and Lea then sailed for China, arriving there on 21 December 1911.
The uprising expanded to the Xinhai Revolution
also known as the "Chinese Revolution" to overthrow the last Emperor Puyi
. After this event, 10 October became known as the commemoration of Double Ten Day
Republic of China with multiple governments
On 29 December 1911 a meeting of representatives from provinces in Nanking (Nanjing)
elected Sun Yat-sen as the "provisional president
" (). 1 January 1912 was set as the first day
of the First Year of the Republic.
[Welland, Sasah Su-ling. 007(2007). A Thousand miles of dreams: The journeys of two Chinese sisters. Rowman littlefield publishing. , . pg 87.] Li Yuanhong
was made provisional vice-president and Huang Xing
became the minister of the army. The new Provisional Government of the Republic of China
was created along with the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China
. Sun is credited for the funding of the revolutions and for keeping the spirit of revolution alive, even after a series of failed uprisings. His successful merger of minor revolutionary groups to a single larger party provided a better base for all those who shared the same ideals. A number of things were introduced such as the republic calendar system
and new fashion like Zhongshan suits
, who controlled the Beiyang Army
, the military of northern China, was promised the position of President of the Republic of China if he could get the Qing court to abdicate.
On 12 February 1912 Emperor Puyi did abdicate the throne.
Sun stepped down as President, and Yuan became the new provisional president in Beijing on 10 March 1912.
The provisional government did not have any military forces of its own. Its control over elements of the New Army
that had mutinied was limited and there were still significant forces which still had not declared against the Qing.
Sun Yat-sen sent telegrams to the leaders of all provinces requesting them to elect and to establish the National Assembly of the Republic of China
in 1912. In May 1912 the legislative assembly moved from Nanjing to Beijing with its 120 members divided between members of Tongmenghui
and a Republican party that supported Yuan Shikai.
[Ch'ien Tuan-sheng. ''The Government and Politics of China 1912–1949''. Harvard University Press, 1950; rpr. Stanford University Press. , . pp. 83–91.]
Many revolutionary members were already alarmed by Yuan's ambitions and the northern based Beiyang government
Nationalist party and Second Revolution
Tongmenghui member Song Jiaoren
quickly tried to control the parliament. He mobilized the old Tongmenghui at the core with the merger of a number of new small parties to form a new political party called the Kuomintang
(Chinese nationalist party, commonly abbreviated as "KMT") on 25 August 1912 at Huguang Guild Hall
The 1912–1913 National assembly election
was considered a huge success for the KMT winning 269 of the 596 seats in the lower house and 123 of the 274 senate seats.
[Fu, Zhengyuan. (1993). ''Autocratic tradition and Chinese politics''(Cambridge University Press. , ). pp. 153–154.]
In retaliation the national party leader Song Jiaoren was assassinated, almost certainly by a secret order of Yuan, on 20 March 1913.
The Second Revolution
took place where Sun and KMT military forces tried to overthrow Yuan's forces of about 80,000 men in an armed conflict in July 1913. The revolt against Yuan was unsuccessful. In August 1913, Sun Yat-sen fled to Japan, where he later enlisted financial aid via politician and industrialist Fusanosuke Kuhara
In 1915 Yuan Shikai proclaimed the Empire of China (1915–1916)
with himself as Emperor of China
. Sun took part in the Anti-Monarchy war
of the Constitutional Protection Movement
, while also supporting bandit leaders like Bai Lang
during the Bai Lang Rebellion
. This marked the beginning of the Warlord Era
. In 1915 Sun wrote to the Second International
, a socialist-based organization in Paris, asking it to send a team of specialists to help China set up the world's first socialist republic. At the time there were many theories and proposals
of what China could be. In the political mess, both Sun Yat-sen and Xu Shichang
were announced as President of the Republic of China.
Path to Northern Expedition
Guangzhou militarist government
China had become divided among regional military leaders. Sun saw the danger of this and returned to China in 1917 to advocate Chinese reunification
. In 1921 he started a self-proclaimed military government in Guangzhou
and was elected Grand Marshal
[Bergère & Lloyd: 273]
Between 1912 and 1927 three governments had been set up in South China: the Provisional government in Nanjing (1912)
, the Military government in Guangzhou (1921–1925), and the National government in Guangzhou and later Wuhan
(1925–1927). The government in the South was established to rival the Beiyang government in the north.
Yuan Shikai had banned the KMT. The short lived Chinese Revolutionary Party
was a temporary replacement for the KMT. On 10 October 1919 Sun resurrected the KMT with the new name Chung-kuo Kuomintang
, or the "Nationalist Party of China".
By this time Sun had become convinced that the only hope for a unified China lay in a military conquest from his base in the south, followed by a period of political tutelage that would culminate in the transition to democracy. In order to hasten the conquest of China, he began a policy of active cooperation with the Communist Party of China
(CPC). Sun and the Soviet Union
's Adolph Joffe
signed the Sun-Joffe Manifesto
in January 1923.
[Tung, William L. 968(1968). The political institutions of modern China. Springer publishing. . p 92. P106.]
Sun received help from the Comintern
for his acceptance of communist members into his KMT. Revolutionary and socialist leader Vladimir Lenin
praised Sun and the KMT for their ideology and principles. Lenin praised Sun and his attempts at social reformation, and also congratulated him for fighting foreign imperialism. Sun also returned the praise, calling him a "great man", and sent his congratulations on the revolution in Russia
With the Soviets' help, Sun was able to develop the military power needed for the Northern Expedition
against the military at the north. He established the Whampoa Military Academy
near Guangzhou with Chiang Kai-shek
as the commandant
of the National Revolutionary Army
(NRA). Other Whampoa leaders include Wang Jingwei
and Hu Hanmin
as political instructors. This full collaboration was called the First United Front
In 1924 Sun appointed his brother-in-law T. V. Soong
to set up the first Chinese Central bank called the Canton Central Bank
. To establish national capitalism and a banking system was a major objective for the KMT. However Sun was not without some opposition as there was the Canton volunteers corps uprising
In February 1923 Sun made a presentation to the Students' Union
in Hong Kong University
and declared that it was the corruption of China and the peace, order and good government
of Hong Kong that turned him into a revolutionary. This same year, he delivered a speech in which he proclaimed his Three Principles of the People
as the foundation of the country and the Five-Yuan Constitution
as the guideline for the political system and bureaucracy. Part of the speech was made into the National Anthem of the Republic of China
On 10 November 1924, Sun traveled north to Tianjin
and delivered a speech to suggest a gathering for a "national conference" for the Chinese people. It called for the end of warlord rules and the abolition of all unequal treaties
with the Western powers. Two days later, he traveled to Beijing to discuss the future of the country, despite his deteriorating health and the ongoing civil war of the warlords. Among the people he met was the Muslim General Ma Fuxiang
, who informed Sun that they would welcome his leadership. On 28 November 1924 Sun traveled to Japan and gave a speech on Pan-Asianism
Illness and death
For many years, it was popularly believed that Sun died of liver cancer
. On 26 January 1925, Sun underwent an exploratory laparotomy
at Peking Union Medical College
Hospital (PUMCH) to investigate a long-term illness. This was performed by the head of the Department of Surgery, Adrian S. Taylor, who stated that the procedure "revealed extensive involvement of the liver by carcinoma
" and that Sun only had about ten days to live. Sun was hospitalized and his condition was treated with radium
Sun survived the initial ten-day period and on 18 February, against the advice of doctors, he was transferred to the KMT headquarters and treated with traditional Chinese medicine
. This too was unsuccessful and he died on 12 March at the age of 58.
Contemporary reports in ''The New York Times
and the Chinese newspaper ''Qun Qiang Bao'' all reported the cause of death as liver cancer, based on Taylor's observation.
Following this the body then was preserved in mineral oil
and taken to the Temple of Azure Clouds
, a Buddhist shrine in the Western Hills a few miles outside of Beijing.
He also left a short political will
() penned by Wang Jingwei
, which had a widespread influence in the subsequent development of the Republic of China
In 1926, construction began on a majestic mausoleum at the foot of Purple Mountain
in Nanjing, and this was completed in the spring of 1929. On 1 June 1929, Sun's remains were moved from Beijing and interred in the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum
By pure chance, in May 2016, an American pathologist named Rolf F. Barth was visiting the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
when he noticed a faded copy of the original autopsy report on display. The autopsy was performed immediately after Sun's death by James Cash, a pathologist at PUMCH. Based on a tissue sample
, Cash concluded that the cause of death was an adenocarcinoma
in the gallbladder
that had metastasized
to the liver. In modern China, liver cancer is far more common than gallbladder cancer and although the incidence rates of either in 1925 are not known, if one assumes that they were similar at that time, then the original diagnosis by Taylor was a logical conclusion. From the time of Sun's death until the appearance of Barth's report
in the ''Chinese Journal of Cancer
'' in September 2016 (now known as ''Cancer Communications'' since 1 March 2018), the true cause of death of Sun Yat-sen was not reported in any English-language publication. Even in Chinese-language sources, it only appeared in one non-medical online report in 2013.
After Sun's death, a power struggle between his young protégé Chiang Kai-shek
and his old revolutionary comrade Wang Jingwei
split the KMT. At stake in this struggle was the right to lay claim to Sun's ambiguous legacy. In 1927 Chiang Kai-shek married Soong Mei-ling
, a sister of Sun's widow Soong Ching-ling
, and subsequently he could claim to be a brother-in-law of Sun. When the Communists and the Kuomintang split
in 1927, marking the start of the Chinese Civil War
, each group claimed to be his true heirs, a conflict that continued through World War II. Sun's widow, Soong Ching-ling
, sided with the Communists during the Chinese Civil War and served from 1949 to 1981 as Vice-President (or Vice-Chairwoman) of the People's Republic of China and as Honorary President shortly before her death in 1981.
Cult of personality
A personality cult
in the Republic of China was centered on Sun and his successor, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek
. Chinese Muslim Generals and Imams participated in this cult of personality and one party state
, with Muslim General Ma Bufang
making people bow to Sun's portrait and listen to the national anthem during a Tibetan
religious ceremony for the Qinghai Lake
God. Quotes from the Quran
were used among Hui
Muslims to justify Chiang Kai-shek's rule over China.
The Kuomintang's constitution designated Sun as party president. After his death, the Kuomintang opted to keep that language in its constitution to honor his memory forever. The party has since been headed by a director-general (1927–1975) and a chairman (since 1975), which discharge the functions of the president.
Father of the Nation
Sun Yat-sen remains unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for having a high reputation both in mainland China
and in Taiwan
. In Taiwan, he is seen as the Father of the Republic of China
, and is known by the posthumous name
''Father of the Nation
, Mr. Sun Zhongshan'' (, where the one-character space
is a traditional homage symbol).
His likeness is still almost always found in ceremonial locations such as in front of legislatures and classrooms of public schools
, from elementary to senior high school, and he continues to appear in new coinage and currency
Forerunner of the revolution
On the mainland
, Sun is seen as a Chinese nationalist, proto-socialist, first president of a Republican China and is highly regarded as the Forerunner of the Revolution ().
He is even mentioned by name in the preamble
to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China
. In recent years, the leadership of the Communist Party of China
has increasingly invoked Sun, partly as a way of bolstering Chinese nationalism
in light of Chinese economic reform
and partly to increase connections with supporters of the Kuomintang on Taiwan which the PRC
sees as allies against Taiwan independence
. Sun's tomb
was one of the first stops made by the leaders of both the Kuomintang and the People First Party
on their pan-blue visit to mainland China in 2005
. A massive portrait of Sun continues to appear in Tiananmen Square
for May Day and National Day
Sun Yat-sen spent years in Hawaii as a student in the late 1870s and early 1880s, and was highly impressed with the economic development he saw there. He used the independent Kingdom of Hawaii as a model to develop his vision of a technologically modern and politically independent and actively anti-imperialist
China. Sun Yat-sen was an important pioneer of international development, proposing in the 1920s international institutions of the sort that appeared after World War II. He focused on China, with its vast potential and weak base of mostly local entrepreneurs.
His key proposal was socialism. He proposed:
:The State will take over all the large enterprises; we shall encourage and protect enterprises which may reasonably be entrusted to the people; the nation will possess equality with other nations; every Chinese will be equal to every other Chinese both politically and in his opportunities of economic advancement.
Sun Yat-sen was born to Sun Dacheng () and his wife, Lady Yang
() on 12 November 1866.
At the time his father was age 53, while his mother was 38 years old. He had an older brother, Sun Dezhang (), and an older sister, Sun Jinxing (), who died at the early age of 4. Another older brother, Sun Deyou (), died at the age of 6. He also had an older sister, Sun Miaoqian (), and a younger sister, Sun Qiuqi ().
At age 20, Sun had an arranged marriage
with fellow villager Lu Muzhen
. She bore a son, Sun Fo
, and two daughters, Sun Jinyuan () and Sun Jinwan ().
Sun Fo was the grandfather of Leland Sun, who spent 37 years working in Hollywood as an actor and stuntman
. Sun Yat-sen was also the godfather of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, American author and poet who wrote under the name Cordwainer Smith
Sun's first concubine
, the Hong Kong-born Chen Cuifen
, lived in Taiping, Perak
for 17 years. The couple adopted a local girl as their daughter. Cuifen subsequently relocated to China, where she died.
On 25 October 1915 in Japan, Sun married Soong Ching-ling
, one of the Soong sisters
Soong Ching-Ling's father was the American-educated Methodist
minister Charles Soong
, who made a fortune in banking and in printing of Bibles. Although Charles Soong had been a personal friend of Sun's, he was enraged when Sun announced his intention to marry Ching-ling because while Sun was a Christian he kept two wives, Lu Muzhen and Kaoru Otsuki
; Soong viewed Sun's actions as running directly against their shared religion.
Soong Ching-Ling's sister, Soong Mei-ling
, later married Chiang Kai-shek
Memorials and structures in Asia
In most major Chinese cities
one of the main streets is named ''Zhongshan Lu
'' () to celebrate his memory. There are also numerous parks, schools, and geographical features named after him. Xiangshan, Sun's hometown in Guangdong, was renamed Zhongshan
in his honor, and there is a hall dedicated to his memory at the Temple of Azure Clouds
in Beijing. There are also a series of Sun Yat-sen stamps
Other references to Sun include the Sun Yat-sen University
in Guangzhou and National Sun Yat-sen University
. Other structures include Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum
, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall subway station
, Sun Yat-sen house
in Nanjing, Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum
in Hong Kong, Chung-Shan Building
, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall
and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
in Singapore. Zhongshan Memorial Middle School
has also been a name used by many schools. Zhongshan Park
is also a common name used for a number of places named after him. The first highway in Taiwan is called the Sun Yat-sen expressway
. Two ships are also named after him, the Chinese gunboat Chung Shan
and Chinese cruiser Yat Sen
. The old Chinatown in Calcutta
(now known as Kolkata
has a prominent street by the name of Sun Yat-sen street. There are also two streets named after Sun Yat-sen, located in the cities of Astrakhan and Ufa, Russia.
In George Town
, Penang, Malaysia
, the Penang Philomatic Union had its premises at 120 Armenian Street
in 1910, during the time when Sun spent more than four months in Penang
, convened the historic "Penang Conference" to launch the fundraising campaign for the Huanghuagang Uprising and founded the ''Kwong Wah Yit Poh''; this house, which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Museum
(formerly called the Sun Yat Sen Penang Base), was visited by President designate Hu Jintao in 2002. The Penang Philomatic Union subsequently moved to a bungalow at 65 Macalister Road
which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Centre Penang.
As dedication, the 1966 Chinese Cultural Renaissance
was launched on Sun's birthday on 12 November.
Wan Qing Yuan in Singapore have since been preserved and renamed as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall
A Sun Yat-sen heritage trail was also launched on 20 November 2010 in Penang.
Sun's US citizen Hawaii birth certificate that show he was not born in the ROC, but instead born in the US was on public display at the American Institute in Taiwan
on US Independence day
4 July 2011.
A street in Medan
is named "Jalan Sun Yat-Sen" in honour of him.
A street named "Tôn Dật Tiên" (Sino-Vietnamese
name for Sun Yat-Sen) is located in Ho Chi Minh City
File:sun yatse mausoleum.jpg|Mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, Nanjing.
File:Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall.jpg|Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Guangzhou.
File:Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Taipei.jpg|Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Taipei
File:Sun Yat-sen Centre.JPG|Sun Yat-sen Memorial Centre, George Town, Penang, Malaysia
File:HK Central Gage Street Pak Tsz Lane Sun Yat Sen Historical Trail 2.JPG|A marker on the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail on Hong Kong Island
Memorials and structures outside of Asia
St. John's University
in New York City has a facility built in 1973, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, built to resemble a traditional Chinese building in honor of Sun. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
is located in Vancouver
, the largest classical Chinese gardens outside of Asia. There is the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park in Chinatown, Honolulu
. On the island of Maui
, there is the little Sun Yat-sen Park at Kamaole. It is located near to where his older brother had a ranch on the slopes of Haleakala
in the Kula
In Chinatown, Los Angeles
, there is a seated statue of him in Central Plaza.
, California there is a bronze statue of Sun in front of the Chinese Benevolent Association of Sacramento. Another statue of Sun Yat-sen by Joe Rosenthal
can be found at Riverdale Park
in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and there is a seated statue in Toronto's downtown Chinatown
. There is also the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University
. In Chinatown, San Francisco
, there is a 12-foot statue of him
on Saint Mary's Square
In late 2011, the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China
, unveiled, in a Lion Dance Blessing ceremony, a memorial statue of Sun outside the Chinese Museum
in Melbourne's Chinatown
, on the spot where their traditional Chinese New Year Lion Dance always ends.
In 1993 Lily Sun
, one of Sun Yat-sen's granddaughters, donated books, photographs, artwork and other memorabilia to the Kapi'olani Community College
library as part of the "Sun Yat-sen Asian collection".
During October and November every year the entire collection is shown.
In 1997 the "Dr Sun Yat-sen Hawaii foundation" was formed online as a virtual library.
In 2006 the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit
labeled one of the hills explored "Zhongshan".
The plaque shown earlier in this article is by Dora Gordine, and is situated on the site of Sun's lodgings in London in 1896, 8 Grays Inn Place. There is also a blue plaque
commemorating Sun at The Kennels, Cottered
, Hertfordshire, the country home of the Cantlies where Sun came to recuperate after his rescue from the legation in 1896.
A street named Sun Yat-Sen Avenue is located in Markham, Ontario
. This is the first such street name outside of Asia.
In popular culture
''Dr. Sun Yat-sen
'' () is a 2011 Chinese-language western-style opera
in three acts by the New York-based American composer Huang Ruo
who was born in China and is a graduate of Oberlin College's Conservatory as well as the Juilliard School. The libretto was written by Candace Mui-ngam Chong
, a recent collaborator with playwright David Henry Hwang
. It was performed in Hong Kong in October 2011 and was given its North American premiere on 26 July 2014 at The Santa Fe Opera
TV series and films
The life of Sun is portrayed in various films, mainly ''The Soong Sisters
'' and ''Road to Dawn
''. A fictionalized assassination attempt on his life was featured in ''Bodyguards and Assassins
''. He is also portrayed during his struggle to overthrow the Qing dynasty in ''Once Upon a Time in China II
''. The TV series ''Towards the Republic
'' features Ma Shaohua as Sun Yat-sen. In the 100th anniversary tribute of the film ''1911
'', Winston Chao
played Sun. In Space: Above and Beyond
, one of the starships of the China Navy is named the ''Sun Yat-sen''.
In 2010, a theatrical play ''Yellow Flower on Slopes'' () was created and performed.
In 2011, there is also a Mandopop
group called "Zhongsan Road 100" () known for singing the song "Our Father of the Nation" ().
New Three Principles of the People
At one time CPC general secretary and PRC president Jiang Zemin
claimed that Sun Yat-sen advocated a movement known as the "New Three Principles of the People" () which consisted of "working with the soviets, working with the communists and helping the farmers" ().
In 2001 Lily Sun said that the CPC was distorting Sun's legacy. She then voiced her displeasure in 2002 in a private letter to Jiang about the distortion of history.
In 2008 Jiang Zemin was willing to offer US$10 million to sponsor a Xinhai Revolution anniversary celebration event. According to ''Ming Pao
'' she could not take the money because she would no longer have the freedom to communicate about the revolution.
This concept is still currently available on Baike Baidu
KMT emblem removal case
In 1981, Lily Sun took a trip to Sun Yat-sen mausoleum in Nanjing, People's Republic of China. The emblem of the KMT had been removed from the top of his sacrificial hall at the time of her visit, but was later restored. On another visit in May 2011, she was surprised to find the four characters "General Rules of Meetings" (), a document that Sun wrote in reference to Robert's Rules of Order
had been removed from a stone carving.
Father of Independent Taiwan issue
In November 2004, the ROC Ministry of Education
proposed that Sun Yat-sen was not the father of Taiwan. Instead, Sun was a foreigner from mainland China.
Taiwanese Education minister Tu Cheng-sheng
and Examination Yuan
member , both of whom supported the proposal, had their portraits pelted with eggs in protest.
At a Sun Yat-sen statue in Kaohsiung
, a 70-year-old ROC retired soldier committed suicide as a way to protest the ministry proposal on the anniversary of Sun's birthday 12 November.
* ''Kidnapped in London'' (1897)
* ''The Outline of National Reconstruction/Chien Kuo Ta Kang'' (1918)
* ''The Fundamentals of National Reconstruction/Jianguo fanglue'' (1924)
* ''The Principle of Nationalism'' (1953)
*History of the Republic of China
*Politics of the Republic of China
*Sun Yat-sen Museum Penang
*United States Constitution and worldwide influence
online free to borrow
*Buck, Pearl S.
, ''The Man Who Changed China: The Story of Sun Yat-sen'' (1953online
popular biography by famous writer
* Chen, Stephen, and Robert Payne. ''Sun Yat Sen A Portrait'' (1946online
* Cheng, Chu-yuan ed. ''Sun Yat-sen's Doctrine In The Modern World'' (1989)
* D'Elia, Paschal M. ''Sun Yat-sen. His Life and Its Meaning, a Critical Biography'' (1936)
* Du, Yue. "Sun Yat-sen as Guofu: Competition over Nationalist Party Orthodoxy in the Second Sino-Japanese War." ''Modern China'' 45.2 (2019): 201–235.
* Jansen, Marius B. ''The Japanese and Sun Yat-sen'' (1967online
* Kayloe, Tjio. ''The Unfinished Revolution: Sun Yat-Sen and the Struggle for Modern China'' (2017)excerpt
* Khoo, Salma Nasution. ''Sun Yat Sen in Penang'' (Areca Books, 2008).
* Linebarger, Paul M.A. ''Political Doctrines Of Sun Yat-sen'' (1937online free
*Martin, Bernard. ''Sun Yat-sen's vision for China'' (1966)
*Restarick, Henry B., ''Sun Yat-sen, Liberator of China.'' (Yale UP, 1931)
*Schiffrin, Harold Z. "The Enigma of Sun Yat-sen" in Mary Wright, ed., ''China in Revolution: The First Phase 1900-1913'' (1968) pp 443–476.
*Schiffrin, Harold Z. ''Sun Yat-sen: Reluctant Revolutionary '' (1980)
*Schiffrin, Harold Z. ''Sun Yat-sen and the origins of the Chinese revolution'' (1968).
* Shen, Stephen and Robert Payne. ''Sun Yat-Sen: A Portrait'' (1946online free
* Soong, Irma Tam. "Sun Yat-sen's Christian Schooling in Hawai'i." ''The Hawaiian Journal of History,'' vol. 31 (1997online
* Wilbur, Clarence Martin. ''Sun Yat-sen, frustrated patriot'' (Columbia University Press, 1976), a major scholarly biographonline
* Yu, George T. "The 1911 Revolution: Past, Present, and Future," ''Asian Survey'', 31#10 (1991), pp. 895–904online
Sun Yat-sen in Hong Kong
University of Hong Kong Libraries, Digital InitiativesYokohama Overseas Chinese School established by Dr. Sun Yat-senNational Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Official WebsiteHomer Lea Research CenterDr. Sun Yat-Sen Foundation of Hawaii
A virtual library on Dr. Sun in Hawaii including sources for six visits
Sun's best friend. He trained Chinese soldiers and prepared the frame work for the 1911 Chinese Revolution.
* Funeral procession for Sun Yat-sen in Chinatown, Los Angeles
at the Los Angeles Times
Photographic Archive (Collection 1429). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library
, University of California, Los Angeles
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