What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 3 of 3

August 11, 2016

To determine what a republic in China would look like, we must also ask how many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in Sun Yat-sen’s republic.

To find out we need to take a closer look at who was eligible to vote in the United States during Sun’s life to discover that most minorities [China has 56] and women in the United States were not allowed to vote. In addition, some American states at the time had literacy laws in place and eligible adult men [mostly minorities] had to pass a literacy test to be able to vote. The first literacy test for voting was adopted by Connecticut in 1855. In fact, ten of the eleven southern states had subjective literacy tests that were used to restrict voter registration, but some of those states used grandfather clauses to exempt white voters from taking literacy tests.

Knowing this, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have created a republic in China that only allowed educated and wealthy Han Chinese men to vote. Women and children would have remained chattel, the property of men to be bought and sold for any reason as they had for thousands of years, and China’s minorities would have had no rights.

Therefore, once we subtract children, women, minorities, Han Chinese adult males who did not own property and any of those who were illiterate from the eligible voting population, what’s left is less than five percent of the adult population—and the educated Han elite adult males who owned property would have ruled the country. Most of the people in China would have had no voice; no vote.

What about today’s China?

Six-hundred million rural Chinese are allowed to vote in local elections. Only Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members vote in national elections but at last count, there were more than 80 million CCP members; China’s leader—with limited powers—may only serve two five-year terms.

And China has its own form of an electoral college. The President of China is elected by the National People’s Congress [NPC] with 2,987 members [dramatically more than the Electoral College in the United States with its 538 electors]. The NPC also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.

There is another significant difference between China’s NPC and America’s Electoral College—members of China’s NPC are elected but members of America’s Electoral College are appointed. This process varies from state to state. Usually, political parties nominate electors at their state conventions. Sometimes that process occurs by a vote of the U.S. party’s central committee. The electors are usually state-elected officials, party leaders, or people with a strong affiliation with the presidential candidates. This means that the American people have no say when those hand-picked 538 electors decide who the next U.S. President will be.

Then there is this fact: China’s culture is influenced by Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism — not Christianity, Islam or Judaism — and all three of these Asian religions/philosophies emphasizes harmony with little or no focus on individual rights as practiced in Europe and North America. Knowing that, it is highly likely that Sun Yat-sen would have supported some form of censorship over individuals in China when too much freedom of expression threatened the nation’s harmony.

But the pressure on China to become a democracy is for China to copy the United States with no consideration for its history and unique cultural differences. I wonder why.

Return to Part 2 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 2 of 3

August 10, 2016

Sun Yat-sen [1866 – 1925] was considered the father of China’s republic both on the mainland and Taiwan, and he was introduced to the United States in 1882 when he attended a Christian school in Hawaii. That experience exposed him to American politics, and later he wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

To learn about the United States that Sun Yat-sen discovered, we must step back in time and examine America’s political structure then.

William P. Meyers.org says, “After the British were defeated a centralized, national government was seen by George Washington and company not as a method of extending freedom and the right to vote, but as a way of keeping control in the hands of rich. They wrote several anti-democratic provisions into the U.S. Constitution. Slavery was institutionalized. The Senate was not to be elected directly by the people; rather Senators were to be appointed by state legislatures. The President was not to be directly elected by the voters, but elected through an electoral college. The Supreme Court was to be appointed. Only the House of Representatives was elected directly.”

But by 1920, five years before Sun died, the right to vote was extended to women in the United States in both state and federal elections, but where was Sun Yat-sen when this happened? He was in China leading a rebellion and struggling to build a multi-party republic that included the Communist and Nationalist parties, and his ideas of what a republic would look like in China had formed decades before women got the vote in the U.S.

The political climate that existed in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will show us what Sun learned about politics in America. For instance, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act passed by Congress in the spring of 1882 that was still in force. It wouldn’t be until 1942, years after Sun’s death, that the act would be repealed.

In addition, in 1922, the US Supreme Court ruled that people of Japanese heritage could not become naturalized citizens. The following year the Supreme Court ruled that Asian Indians also could not become citizens, and the law that barred Native American’s from voting wasn’t removed until 1947.

How about the way children were treated in the United States?

Well, children could be sold into slavery by their parents and end up working in factories, coal mines and even whore houses as young as seven. It wouldn’t be until 1938 that a federal law stopped this form of child slavery in the United States. America’s Civil War [1861 – 1865] may have ended black slavery but it didn’t free women and children of any race, and the Equal Rights Amendment has still not passed.

Continued with Part 3 on August 11, 2016 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

For August 2016 Promotion

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What would a Republic in China Look Like? Part 1 of 3

August 9, 2016

The mainland Chinese have many choices to choose from when it comes to a democracy. They could copy the first democracy in Athens, but the Athenian democracy had slavery and women couldn’t vote. In the 4th and 5th century BC, all male citizens (about 40,000 to 60,000) in Athens had equal political rights, freedom of speech, and the opportunity to participle directly in the political arena, but women, slaves (as many as 80,000) and foreign residents were excluded.  – Athenian Democracy: a brief overview

What about the United States at its birth as a republic? Well, only white men who owned property and were not Jews were allowed to vote. That was about 10 percent of the population, and in 1790 there were 697,897 slaves in America. – Slave Population of United States: 1790 – 1860

Around that time, the U.S. resident population in 1790 was about 3.9 million. If we subtract the slaves, that leaves 3.2 million meaning that about 300,000 men were allowed to vote.

There are 192 countries in the world and only 123 (or 64 percent) are considered democracies, but China is often criticized the most for not being what is considered a democracy. Why aren’t the other 68 countries that are not democracies criticized: for instance, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan – maybe it is because these authoritarian regimes are all supported by the United States but mainland China isn’t?

However, China might already be a democratic republic, because few if any outside of China considers that the political structure of today’s China might be closer to Sun Yat-sen’s vision than the democracy we find in the United States. After all, Sun Yat-sen is considered the father of China’s republic by both Taiwan and Beijing. In fact, mainland China, ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), may offer the Chinese people more of a voice than the republic Sun Yat-sen was building before his death.

Continued with Part 2 on August 10, 2016

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

For August 2016 Promotion

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Sun Yat-sen’s Republic in China: Part 4 of 4

April 15, 2016

Now that we know more about the United States and Hawaii, where Sun Yat-sen lived as a teenager, Sun’s concept of a republic would have been very different from what we think today.

In addition, members of the U.S. Senate were not elected to office by the popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provided for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

If Sun were aware of the details of America’s political history and its limitation by the time he left Hawaii at the age of 17 in 1883, the republic he wanted for China probably would have excluded many from voting—including women. How many Chinese would have been allowed to vote in the early 20th century if only Han Chinese men that owned property were eligible?

In addition, by 1903, when Sun Yat-sen returned to Hawaii looking for support for his dream of a future republic and/or democracy in China, Hawaii was no longer a republic but was a territory of the United States, and its people were not considered American citizens.

The republic Sun Yat-sen might have wanted for China may possibly have included at least one House as a National Congress with its members appointed by the elected legislatures of each province, and women would have been excluded from voting and possibly considered the property of men as women were in the United States at the same time.

In fact, it is possible that Sun Yat-sen would not have considered organizing a republic where the citizens elected China’s leader with a popular vote of the people since Hawaii’s Constitution of 1864 charged the legislature, not the people, with the task of electing the next king, who was King Kalākaua—the one forced to sign the 1887 Constitution four years after the young Sun Yat-sen had returned to China.

Now that we know the differences between then and today, it is easier to accept that the Chinese Communist Party’s 1982 Constitution created a government in China closer—and maybe even better—than what Sun Yat-sen might have wanted for China.

In fact, in a Sun Yat-sen republic, children in China might still be considered the property of parents as they were in the United States until the 1938 Federal regulation of child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act. Before 1938, parents in the U.S. had the legal right to sell their children into servitude and/or slavery depending on which state one lived in.

“Prior to the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act, both adults and young children often worked brutally long hours only to earn starvation wages.” – Economic Policy Institute

Did you know that in 1900 forty percent of Americans lived in poverty and only 7% of children graduated from high school with 3% of adult Americans graduating from college?

In addition, writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is “the delegation of the government (in a republic) to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.

When James Madison wrote this, the number of US citizens allowed to vote in federal elections was limited to white property owners—not counting Jews—that represented about 10% of the population of the U.S. in 1776, which was similar to the voting rights in Hawaii during most of Sun Yat-sen’s life.

Return to Part 3 or start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Sun Yat-sen’s Republic in China: Part 3 of 4

April 14, 2016

Hawaii was not a democracy modeled after today’s United States when Sun Yat-sen lived there from age 13 to 17 [1879 – 1883].

In fact, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii, it was a kingdom ruled by a king and was a Constitutional Monarchy similar to but not the same as Great Britain.

It wouldn’t be until 1887, that the Hawaiian King Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii—four years after Sun Yat-sen had returned to China—that stripped the king of any authority he had turning him into a figurehead.

In addition, there was a property qualification in 1887’s Hawaiian Constitution for voting rights similar to what the Founding Fathers wrote into the U.S. Constitution in 1776, and resident whites in Hawaii, who owned property, since Asians were not allowed to own property or could not afford to buy it, were the only ones allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, the American Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 excluded skilled and unskilled Chinese from entering the United States for ten years under penalty of imprisonment and deportation. In the U.S. at this time, many Chinese were relentlessly beaten or murdered just because of their race.

Therefore, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii as a Chinese teenager, it was not a republic or a democracy and he was a second-class person barred from entering the United States.

The structure of the political system in the United States was also dramatically different from the one America has today.

In 1790, the Constitution explicitly says that only “free white” immigrants could become naturalized citizens.

In 1848, Mexican-Americans were granted U.S. Citizenship but not voting rights.

In 1856, voting rights were expanded to all white men and not just property owners.

In 1868, four years after the end of the American Civil War, former slaves were granted citizenship, however only African-American men were allowed to be citizens and the right to vote was left up to each state.

In 1870, the 15th Amendment was passed saying the right to vote could not be denied by the federal or state governments based on race (this still did not include women), but some states restricted the right to vote based on voting taxes and literacy tests.

In 1876, the US Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were not citizens and could not vote.

In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred people of Chinese ancestry from naturalizing to become U.S. citizens.

In 1920, the right to vote was extended to women with the 19th Amendment. – U.S. Voting Rights Timeline

What do you think Sun Yat-sen learned from these facts about the U.S. republic and democracy?

Continued on April 15, 2016 with Part 4 or return to Part 2

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

IMAGE with Blurbs and Awards to use on Twitter

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