Chinese Revolution Essay, Research Paper
The collapse of the Chinese Imperial system in 1911 was an event that had been in the making since the mid 1850 s. Between 1850 and 1911 there were many uprisings and wars fought in China. These events compounded and eventually caused a Republican Revolution that forever changed the face of Chinese History. This paper will attempt to explain the causes and events that led to the Republican Revolution of 1911
In the 103 days from June 11 to September 21, 1898, the Quing emperor, Guangxu (1875-1908) ordered a series of reforms aimed at making sweeping social and institutional changes. This effort reflected the thinking of a group of progressive scholar-reformers that had impressed the court with the urgency of making innovations for the nations survival. Influenced by the Japanese success with modernization, the reformers declared that China needed more self-strengthening and that innovation must be accompanied by institutional and ideological change.
The imperial edicts for reform covered a broad range of subjects, including stamping out corruption, remaking the academic and civil service examination systems, restructuring the legal system, a makeover of government structure, defense establishment, and modernization of other government services. These edicts attempted to modernize agriculture, medicine, and mining and to promote practical studies instead of Neo-Confucian orthodoxy#. The court also planned to send students abroad for firsthand observation and technical studies. All of these changes were supposed to be brought about under a de facto constitutional monarchy.
Opposition to the reform was intense among the conservative ruling elite, especially the Manchus, whom in condemning the announced reform as too radical proposed instead, a more moderate and gradualist course of change. Supported by ultraconservatives and with the tactic support of the political opportunist Yuan Shikai (1859-1916), Empress Dowager Ci Xi engineered a coup d tat on September 21, 1898, forcing the young reform-minded Guangxu into seclusion. Ci Xi took over the government as regent. The Hundred Days Reform ended with the rescindment of the new edicts and the execution of six of the reforms chief advocates#. The two principle leaders, Kang Youwei and Liang Qichoa fled abroad to found the Baohuang Hui and to work unsuccessfully for a constitutional monarch in China
The conservatives then gave full backing to the antiforeign and anti-Christian movement of the secret societies known as the Yihetuan, which means the society of righteousness and harmony. The movement had been better known in the west as the Boxers had. In 1900 Boxer bands spread over the north China countryside, burning missionary facilities and killing Chinese Christians#. Finally in June 1900, the Boxers besieged the foreign concessions in Beijing and Tianjin, and action the provoked an allied relief expedition by the offended nations. The Qing declared war against the invaders, who easily crushed their opposition and occupied north China. Under the protocol of 1901, the court made to consent to the execution of ten high officials and punishments of hundreds of others, expansion of the Legation Quarter, payment of war reparations, stationing of foreign troops in China, an razing of some Chinese fortification#.
In the Decade that followed, the court belatedly put into effect some reform measures. These included the abolition of the moribund Confucian based examination, educational and military modernization, and as an experiment a half-hearted constitution and parliamentary government. The suddenness and ambitiousness of the reform effort actually hindered its success. One effect to be felt for decades to come was the establishment of new armies, which in turn gave rise to warlords.
Failure of reform from the top and fiasco of the Boxer Uprising convinced many Chinese that the only real solution lay in outright revolution, in sweeping away old order and erecting a new one patterned preferably after the example of Japan. The revolutionary leader was Sun-Yat-sen (1866-1925), a republican and anti-Qing activist who became increasingly popular among the overseas Chinese and Chinese students abroad, especially in Japan#. In 1905 Sun founded the Tongmeng Hui or United League in Tokyo with Huang Xing, who was a popular leader of the Chinese revolutionary movement in Japan. This party was to be the predecessors of the Kuomintang, and its platform became that of the later incarnation of the Nationalist Party. Sun formulated a plan for a revolution to take place in three stages. The first stage was military or government , the second a provisional constitution granting local self-government , and the third was a full constitional government under a republican system #. Sun s main objectives were to form stronger China to withstand the foreign powers currently occupying her. This movement generously supported by overseas Chinese funds, also gained political support with regional military officers and some of the reformers who had fled China after the Hundred Days Reform.
Suns political philosophy was conceptualized in 1897, first enunciated in Tokyo in 1905, and modified through the early 1920 s. It centered on the Three Principles of the People: nationalism, Democracy, and people s livelihood. The principle of Nationalism called for overthrowing the Manchu’s and ending foreign hegemony over China. The second principle, democracy, was used to describe Sun s goal of a popularly elected republican form of government. The third, people s livelihood, often referred to as socialism, was aimed at helping the common people through regulation of the ownership of the means of production and land#.
The provisional assemblies that had originally been proposed by K ang Yu-wei were established in 1909, the year in which the last emperor, Pu Yi, the Hsuan-tung emperor, ascended the throne#. A national democratically elected consultative Assembly was established in 1910. Although the assembly was meant to support the imperial court, in reality it was frequently at odds with the interests of the imperial government. This is where things stood in 1911 when an uprising began in Szechwan province in the west. Angered at a government plan to nationalize the railways, the uprising soon grew into a national revolution that would end once and for all imperial rule in china.
In all there were ten attempts at revolution in the provinces, most of them in the southwest. The revolution really began with the uprising in Szechwan. Angered at the nationalization of the railway, students took to the streets on August 24, 1911, demanding a delay in the proposed nationalization. When the leaders of the movement were arressted, conflict broke out between troops and the protestors, leaving thirty-two people dead#. From this point onwards, the military and the people of Szechwan fought directly with one another. The original movement, it must be stressed, was begun by conservative and wealthy citizens. They did not want to overthrow the imperial government; they only wanted their financial concerns met. When they found that the imperial government refused to negotiate with them, they turned their support to the revolutionaries.
A second more famous revolution broke out on October 10, 1911, in Wuchang, the capital of Bubei province, among discontented army units whose anti-Qing plot had been uncovered. After the revolutionaries had seized Wuchang, a series of provinces declared independence from the emperor in late October and the month of November: Changsha, Yunnan, Kwangtung, and Szechwan. By the end of November, two thirds of China had seceded from the Ch ing empire. In December, a delegation from central and northern China declare China a republic and elected Sun Yat-sen as the provisional president of the Republic of China#. They set January 1, 1912 as the first day of the Republic. There still however remained one final task: the elimination of the Ch ing.
The imperial government was dying. In one last desperate struggle to survive, the Manchu appointed Yuan Shakai as governor-general of Hunnan and Hupeh, two provinces that had not seceded, and the National Assembly in Beijing appointed him Prime Minister. Yuan, for his part, harbored a grudge against the Manchu dynasty and agreed only if the Manchu’s would inaugurate a national assembly, pardon the revolutionaries, give him full power of the military, and lift the ban political parties#. Since the emperor was only a boy, the Regent, Prince Chun, granted Yuan all his demands; the critical demand however, was Yuan’s total control of the military. Yuan by the beginning of November was convinced that the Manchu dynasty was at a close; his goal was to avoid civil war and become the first president of the new republic. The revolutionaries, for their part saw Yuan as vital to their cause; they understood that he was the only individual who could bring about the revolution without civil war#.
On January 3, 1912, Yuan announced that he would force the Ch ig to abdicate if he were offered the presidency of the republic. Sun, who had been voted the first president of the republic, agreed to these terms. None of the Mongol or Manchu nobility wished to abdicate, so Yuan persuaded them by inducing over fifty generals to declare support for his republic. On February 1, 1912, the Dowager summoned Yuan to an audience and in tears handed the government over to him
The new Nanking government was very generous with the former emperor. They agreed to treat the emperor and his family as foreign royalty and gave them an extremely generous allowance. On February 12, the emperor officially abdicated and on February 13, Sun officially resigned as president of the Republic. On April 5, the United States became the first foreign country to officially recognize the new republic.