<HTML><HEAD> <META name=GENERATOR content="MSHTML 8.00.6001.19120"></HEAD> <BODY> <DIV class=story-headline> <H1 class=heading>Two sides ponder end of a dynasty <!-- google_ad_section_end(name=story_headline) --></H1></DIV><!-- // .story-headline --> <DIV class=story-info> <UL> <LI class="byline first "><SPAN class=source-prefix>by:</SPAN> <CITE>Michael Sainsbury </CITE> <LI class="source "><SPAN class=source-prefix>From:</SPAN> <CITE><A class=source-theaustralian href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/">The Australian</A> </CITE> <LI class="date-and-time last"><SPAN class=datestamp>October 10, 2011</SPAN> <SPAN class=timestamp>12:00AM</SPAN></LI></UL></DIV> <P class="date-and-time last"><SPAN class=timestamp><A href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/two-sides-ponder-end-of-a-dynasty/story-e6frg6z6-1226162494219">http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/two-sides-ponder-end-of-a-dynasty/story-e6frg6z6-1226162494219</A></SPAN></P><SPAN class=timestamp> <DIV class="article-media article-media-large media-count-1 first-image-650w366h"> <DIV> <DIV class="image "> <DIV class="image-frame image-650w366h"><IMG alt="111010 CHINA" src="cts419629-111010-china.jpg" width=650 height=366> </DIV><!-- // .image-frame --> <P class=caption><SPAN class=caption-text>Chinese leaders in Beijing celebrate the centennial of the 1911 Revolution that overthrew imperial rule on the mainland. Picture: AP </SPAN><SPAN class=image-source><EM>Source:</EM> AP</SPAN> </P><!-- // .caption --></DIV></DIV><!-- // .tabs .js-tabbed --></DIV><!-- // .article-media --> <DIV class=story-intro> <P><STRONG><!-- google_ad_section_start(name=story_introduction, weight=high) -->ON October 9, 1911, anti-imperial plotters accidently set off a bomb in the Russian concession of the Yangtze River port of Wuhan. <!-- google_ad_section_end(name=story_introduction) --></STRONG></P></DIV><!-- // .story-intro --><!-- google_ad_section_start(name=story_body, weight=high) --> <P>Next day the shooting started, ignited by ideals of democracy, beginning the Wuchang uprising and signalling the start of the Xinhai Revolution that would finally see the end of the 267-year-old Qing dynasty and 2100 years of continuous imperial rule in China.</P> <P>Anti-government forces would take Wuhan within two days and similar rag-tag rebellions would break out across the country, the culmination of decades of agitation with little co-ordination of what would happen next.</P> <P>It was the beginning of a bloody 38-year battle for control of the world's most populous nation that would lead the country eventually into a bloody civil war, the victory of Mao Zedong's Chinese Communist Party in 1949 and the retreat of the Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang to Taiwan.</P> <DIV class="story-promo story-promo-middle"></DIV> <DIV class="story-related story-sidebar block-style"> <DIV id=sidebar-start class="assistive sidebar-jump"> <P>Start of sidebar. <A href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/two-sides-ponder-end-of-a-dynasty/story-e6frg6z6-1226162494219#sidebar-end">Skip to end of sidebar.</A></P></DIV> <DIV class="group item-count-1 sidebar-related-content"> <DIV class=group-content> <DIV class="item ipos-1 irpos-1"><!-- google_ad_section_start(name=story_related, weight=medium) --> <DIV id=story-related-empty></DIV><!-- google_ad_section_end(name=story_related) --></DIV><!-- // .item .ipos-1 . irpos-1 --></DIV><!-- // .group-content --></DIV><!-- // .group item-count-1 --> <DIV id=sidebar-end class="assistive sidebar-jump"> <P>End of sidebar. <A href="http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/two-sides-ponder-end-of-a-dynasty/story-e6frg6z6-1226162494219#sidebar-start">Return to start of sidebar.</A></P></DIV></DIV><!-- // .story-sidebar --> <P>"It was the implosion of the empire, and it was a mess," University of Sydney professor David Goodman tells The Australian.</P> <P>By January 1, 1912, the urbane Guangdong doctor Sun Yat-sen would force the child emperor Puyi to abdicate, declaring the Republic of China, an event that has echoed down the ensuing decades. The Xinhai Revolution began the sometimes slow but apparently inexorable process of reshaping China for its re-mergence as a world power.</P> <P>Within a year of the Wuchang uprising, anarchy had seized hold of parts of the country and the following decade would be marked by the reign of warlords. Sun would found the Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, which would first team up with -- and then battle -- the Communists for control of the nation.</P> <P>"There was neither a social nor an economic revolution," Jonathan Fenby writes in his Penguin History of Modern China.</P> <P>"The gentry, which had steadily been accreting power since the middle of the 19th century, overthrew the empire to buttress its own position. The warlords were seriously reactionary. Force became the arbiter of politics, setting a pattern than persisted through the century."</P> <P>The event is being marked by celebrations on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The festivities will be more ebullient in Taiwan, which still carries the name of the Republic of China. With democracy now firmly entrenched, the Taiwanese very much see themselves as the true heirs of Xinhai and its leader Sun Yat-sen.</P> <P>Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, with a weather eye on next February's election, will review Taiwan's first military parade since he took office in 2008, notwithstanding his overhaul of relations with Beijing. This has led to the creation of direct transport and postal links and, last year, to the signing of an Economic Co-operation Framework agreement designed to bring the economies of the two states closer. And in a sure sign that Taiwan's democratic processes are in good health, there are questions over whether Ma will win a second term.</P> <P>On the other side of the Taiwan Strait in mainland China, celebrations will be slightly more muted.</P> <P>"It's fairly clear they [the Chinese Communist Party] think that Sun Yat-sen and the Xinhai Revolution was a good thing," Goodman says.</P> <P>"And this predates the 1978 reforms. But there seems to be an ambivalence about it and an ambivalence about what you should say and how to deal with people who talk about, which is quite interesting.</P> <P>"Some of the history professors have been allowed to say something about it in some places in China and then not been allowed to say them in others. Nobody has made any ruling on what the ideological line should be."</P> <P>Sun's ideals were rooted in the writings of Abraham Lincoln rather than Vladimir Lenin. His Three Principles of the People were nationalism, democracy and the livelihood of the people.</P> <P>There is no shortage of nationalism, which has been used by both Taiwan and the communist mainland as central propaganda tool.</P> <P>Yet on the mainland, democracy appears further out of reach than ever, with crackdowns on dissent escalating in recent years and culminating in a co-ordinated campaign to lock up, torture and "disappear" leading dissidents. This has been in full swing for the past 12 months after author and dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded last year's Nobel Peace Prize.</P> <P>This week, Sun Yat-sen's granddaughter Lily Sui-fong Sun, 76, accused the Chinese government of distorting his legacy in an interview with Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.</P> <P>Ms Sun revealed that 10 years ago on the 90th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution, then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin claimed Sun had promulgated the idea of a new Three Principles of the People that consisted of "working with the Soviets, working with the communists, helping the farmers", which, she said, stood in marked contrast to his original Three Principles.</P> <P>Ms Sun said she voiced her displeasure in a private letter to Jiang Zemin in 2002, who responded the following year, saying he would like to sponsor her Xinhai Revolution anniversary activities. In 2008, Jiang reiterated his offer, saying he was willing to offer $US10 million for her events. "I can't take this money," Ms Sun told Ming Pao.</P> <P>"Once I take it, I won't have the freedom to properly communicate the revolution. They want to modify history, fool the people and scrub my grandfather's revolutionary image. I can't do it. This is distorting history."</P> <P>Ms Sun also said that on a 1981 trip to the Sun Yat-sen mausoleum in Nanjing, she noticed the emblem of the Kuomintang had disappeared from the top of her grandfather's tomb.</P> <P>History is a key plank in the machinations of the Communist Party in China: the country's leaders revise and tweak it to justify the policies of the party. It is carefully visited, revisited and then trawled through again.</P> <P>For the pure Marxists in China, the Xinhai is seen as China's bourgeois revolution that was the necessary precondition to the revolution of the proletariat, which was to come after World War II.</P> <P>By the time the first shots were fired in Wuhan in 1911 it was clear the Qing dynasty was all but done. The nation's rulers had become hopelessly corrupt and had ceded power not just to the Chinese wealthy classes but to a raft of foreign powers who had carved up access to the country and whose presence has permanently scarred China's psyche with the stain of occupation. The Qing, in any case, were not Han -- China's predominant ethnic group -- but much hated Manchus from the north.</P> <P>Under pressure from the merchant classes, the Qing had tried to modernise a couple of times. Reforms were attempted in 1898, but were defeated by the Empress Dowager Cixi, who, in effect, controlled China for 47 years until her death in 1908. Some reforms, such as the introduction of a multi-ethnic state, were introduced in 1905 and 1906.</P> <P>These were early attempts at constitutional democracy but, Goodman says, too much power was given to provincial assemblies, something that has continued to haunt Beijing to this day as it tries to impose its will on 31 different provinces and municipalities, four of which have populations larger than Germany.</P> <P>"Having survived for 267 years, the Qing had grown too weak and too unpopular to retain power over such a complex nation. The dynasty seems to have lost the will to govern," Goodman says of the 1911 revolution.</P> <P>Sun Yat-sen had little military power and was forced to cede the presidency to the imperial retainer Yuan Shikai.</P> <P>"Sun lacked certain things -- one of which was that he was southern Cantonese and he was not representative of the whole [of China], which was fairly limiting," Goodman says.</P> <P>"He gave up the struggle against Yuan. You could say it was the recognition of the inevitable; but Yuan was not universally loved. I think Sun lacked the killer punch myself. He was both limited and self-limiting."</P> <P>The 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution's beginning comes just weeks away from the annual Communist Party Congress in Beijing, where policies for the next 12 months are set. This year is particularly piquant with behind closed-doors electioneering beginning in earnest as China prepares for the once-a-decade change in its senior leadership next October. As that handover looms, the ideals of Sun Yat-sen are coming to the fore once again.</P> <P>On both of the Taiwan Strait, governments have answered Sun's call on behalf of people's livelihood. The communists finally embraced economic reform in 1978. But the reforming zeal has ground to a crawl during the leadership of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. How to kick-start this process has become the central condundrum for the party today.</P> <P>In these terms Taiwan has fared better, as it has with democracy. For three decades, the Kuomingtang ruled Taiwan with a similarly ruthless iron fist to the Chinese Communist Party, although without the horror of the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. Then, in the 1990s it embraced democracy.</P> <P>That remains the other great vexation for the communists and the subject of an ongoing internal struggle within the party.</P> <P>"There are people within all aspects of the party leadership that want more radial change and some people who don't," Goodman says. "Those who want more radial change are able to reach back into some traditions to justify [it]. Those advocating for democracy and more local assemblies can go back to Xinhai, or go back to the new democracy era of the 1940s as well."</P> <P>Yet the country that once embraced revolution has recreated its empire in the form of the Communist Party and its co-dependent business elites. Revolution? China is now paralysed with fear at the very thought of it.</P></SPAN></BODY></HTML>