A salute to the shin­ing Sun of democ­racy

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Nov 12, 2016, will be a day of grand cel­e­bra­tions, for it marks the 150th birth­day of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), “a great na­tional hero, pa­triot and the fron­trun­ner of China’s demo­cratic revo­lu­tion”. The de­ci­sion to cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion came just a day af­ter the his­toric meet­ing be­tween Xi Jin­ping andMa Ying-jeou in Sin­ga­pore on Satur­day, a mile­stone in cross-Straits re­la­tions.

Events will be held to honor Sun’s con­tri­bu­tion to na­tional in­de­pen­dence, so­cial ad­vance­ment and peo­ple’s wel­fare, carry for­ward his pa­tri­otic thoughts and rev­o­lu­tion­ary and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, in the hope of safe­guard­ing cross-Straits peace and en­hanc­ing the Chi­nese co­he­sion, says a state­ment re­leased af­ter the ple­nary meet­ing of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence on Sun­day.

Next year’s high-pro­file com­mem­o­ra­tion of Sun should not come as a sur­prise, be­cause such events were held in 1996 to mark his 130th birth­day and 2006 for the 140th birth­day. Rou­tine as it is, the com­mem­o­ra­tion will be of spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance to both sides of the Straits, which still ex­press sim­i­lar grat­i­tude and honor to pos­si­bly the least con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure in Chi­nese mod­ern history.

For starters, as the found­ing fa­ther of the Repub­lic of China and the Kuom­intang, Sun led the his­toric Revo­lu­tion of 1911 end­ing the feu­dal monar­chy which had ex­isted in the coun­try for more than 2,000 years. This ir­refutable fact cuts across all par­ties’ ide­olo­gies and be­liefs.

In par­tic­u­lar, Sun played a vi­tal role in push­ing for the first co­op­er­a­tion (1924-1927) be­tween the Kuom­intang and the Com­mu­nist Party of China, which helped boost the KMT-led North­ern Ex­pe­di­tion (1926-1928) that ended the rule of the Beiyang gov­ern­ment and lo­cal war­lords in the north.

To a point, it is fair to say the North­ern Ex­pe­di­tion set a prece­dent of co­op­er­a­tion for both par­ties, in­cu­bat­ing the Sec­ond CPC-KMT Co­op­er­a­tion which started from 1937 and led to the hard-won vic­tory of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’sWar of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45).

Sun’s life­long search for a cure for the ills of his home­land, which was still suf­fer­ing fromWestern im­pe­ri­al­ist at­tacks from out­side and war­lords’ rule at home when he died in 1925, cul­mi­nated in the “Three Prin­ci­ples of the Peo­ple”— Na­tion­al­ism, Democ­racy and Peo­ple’s Liveli­hood— es­pe­cially the 1924 re­vised version. It has a lot in com­mon with the Chi­nese Dream, a far-sighted con­cept pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping three years ago, in terms of ul­ti­mate goals.

Sun’s Three Prin­ci­ples fo­cused on the over­all equal­ity of all eth­nic­i­ties at home and in­de­pen­dence in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, as well as peo­ple’s well-be­ing and right to par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics, while the Chi­nese Dream is aimed at “achiev­ing na­tional pros­per­ity, re­ju­ve­na­tion and hap­pi­ness for the Chi­nese peo­ple”. Sun’s grand in­dus­trial plan of na­tion­wide con­struc­tion of rail­ways, roads and har­bors, too, is be­ing re­al­ized at great speed in to­day’s China.

It is fore­see­able that the aca­demic ex­changes be­tween the main­land and Tai­wan, es­pe­cially on Sun’s con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try, will in­crease. With more in-depth ma­te­ri­als dis­cov­ered and in­sight­ful dis­cus­sions in­spired, peo­ple are likely to get a more ob­jec­tive and com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the pioneer of democ­racy in China.

The au­thor is di­rec­tor of and a se­nior re­searcher at the In­sti­tute of­Mod­ern History Stud­ies, Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sci­ences. The ar­ti­cle is an ex­cerpt of his in­ter­view with China Daily’s Cui Shoufeng.

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