Yuan Shikai, China’s second president and its last emperor

May 6, 2015

For thousands of years, the history of China has been defined by wars, rebellion, power struggles and famine, which explains why today’s central government worries about famine and allowing dissidents a voice.

Between 1911 and 1976, three Chinese men were responsible for much of the devastation and death that swept over China causing tens of millions of deaths (not counting what the Japanese did during World War II). Those Chinese leaders were: Yuan Shikai, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung.

In 1911 when the Qing Dynasty fell, Yuan Shikai was a general and commander of the most modern military force in Imperial China. He kept his position by supporting the revolutionaries that brought down the Qing Dynasty.

After the Qing Dynasty fell, rebellion spread through the Yangtze River Valley before revolutionaries from fourteen provinces elected Sun Yat-sen president of a provisional (temporary) government and in January 1912, Sun announced the establishment of the Republic of China.

However, generals controlled China’s provinces and refused to give up power. China’s young republic was essentially the capital city of Nanjing.

On March 20, 1913, Yuan Shikai’s agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen, who helped Sun Yat-sen become the first president. Sun demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

Yuan Shikai resisted, sparking a “so-called” second revolution and on September 15, 1913, he ordered Sun Yat-sen’s arrest. To survive, Sun fled to Japan as a political refugee. He wouldn’t return to China until a few months after Yuan Shikai’s death.

Yuan Shikai, supported financially by the British Empire, became China’s second president, but after 1914, World War I caused a reduction in Britain’s financial support.

Weakened, Yuan Shaikai was forced to accept twenty-one demands made by Japan, which included giving up Chinese territory. He agreed on May 7, 1916, which is now considered National Humiliation Day.

Yuan Shaikai was unable to establish control beyond Nanking so he declared himself emperor. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy and him as emperor touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun Yat-sen’s followers in several other provinces.

This resulted in twelve years of warfare between the warlord generals of China’s provinces and the weak Republic of China.

Yuan Shikai died in 1916, then Sun Yat-sen returned to lead the republic. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, which led to the Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

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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.

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The last days of Sun Yat-sen: Part 3 of 3

December 4, 2014

Later, it was discovered that the medical report of Sun’s condition was incomplete. Some of the samples and part of the report had been stolen and no one knows why.

During World War II, after the Japanese invaded China, Japanese troops occupied the hospital where Sun Yat-sen’s liver samples were kept.

Chinese representative requested the liver samples and the report be turned over to them.

Some of the liver samples were given to Dr. Tang Qiping, who worked at the Sino-Belgian Radium Institute in Shanghai.

Another man, Chu Minyi, forced Dr. Tang to give him those samples.

In 1946, Chu Minyi would go to prison as a traitor to China. He tried to use Sun Yat-sen’s liver samples to save himself. However, Chu was still executed by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

Sun’s liver samples would be lost during the revolution between the Communists and Nationalists. Later, it would be discovered that the samples had been stolen again.

When the Nationalists launched their Northern Expedition to take China from the warlords, the warlord in Beijing, who met with Sun before his death, was their only ally.

When Sun died, his political advisor wrote, “If Dr. Sun Yat-sen had lived for a few years or even a few months longer, China’s situation would have changed completely.”

Soon after Sun’s death in 1925, the democratic government created by him after the 1911 revolution failed.

After a struggle, Chiang Kai-shek gained control of the Nationalists, and because he controlled the army. Chiang then gave orders to his troops to execute all the Communists starting the civil war that led to Mao’s famous Long March.

Return to Part 2  or start with  Part 1

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This film is in Mandarin with no English subtitles.

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The last days of Sun Yat-sen: Part 2 of 3

December 3, 2014

After arriving in Beijing, Sun Yat-sen saw a French doctor who gave him injections to help with his illness.

With his health getting worse, a nurse that worked at a German hospital was sent to his Beijing hotel to care for him.

His condition was so bad that at times he could not talk.

Since the Western medicine wasn’t improving his health, he was convinced by advisors to talk to an herbalist doctor, Ge Lianfu.

Sun Yat-sen told Ge Lianfu that he would give the Chinese medicine to the Western doctors to see if they could copy it.

Ge said he wasn’t sure if Chinese and Western medicine were interchangeable.

Since Sun was a trained Western doctor, he didn’t believe that Ge’s treatment was going to work. Ge Lianfu concluded that Sun had liver disease, but Sun didn’t trust the diagnosis.

While staying in the Beijing hotel, Sun was treated by doctors from the US, Germany, Russia and the Peking Union Medical College Hospital.  However, the treatments didn’t help, and his condition worsened.

The western doctors concluded that he needed exploratory surgery. After they cut him open, they discovered liver disease as Ge Lianfu had diagnosed without surgery.

In fact, Sun was in the final stages of liver cancer. At the time, Western medicine had no treatment to deal with a disease that he must have had for years.

In 1916, Sun had often suffered from abdominal pain and the Western doctors treated him as if he had stomach trouble.

Continued in Part 3 on December 4, 2014 or start with Part 1

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The last days of Sun Yat-sen: Part 1 of 3

December 2, 2014

In October 1911, a revolution in China overthrew the Qing Dynasty and ended more than two-thousand years of imperial monarchy.

After the revolution, the Republic of China was founded but warlords still controlled much of China.

The leader of this revolution was Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), and he served as the first president of the Republic of China.

The Chinese Communist Party persuaded Sun that if his Nationalist Party formed an alliance with the Communists, Sun would gain support from China’s peasants and industrial workers to help end the anarchy in China. Time Asia

But, by 1924, Sun Yat-sen’s health was not good. He was so sick he had to turn command of the Nationalist navy and army over to Hu Hanmin, who would later be a rival with Chiang Kai-shek for control of the Nationalists (Kuomintang) in the late 1920s.

The reason that Sun Yat-sen gave command of the navy and army to Hu Hanmin was because he wanted to go to the Baiyun Mountains of Guangzhou to recover from his illness.

However, Sun Yat-sen was invited to Beijing instead—the reason was to meet the warlord that controlled Beijing.

At the time, The Nationalists only held power in Southern China.

When he arrived by train, about 20-thousand people met him at the station.

The warlord had invited Sun Yat-sen to Beijing to talk about how to end the chaos and anarchy that still raged throughout much of China.

Continued in Part 2 on December 3, 2014

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Father of China’s Republic, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen

August 15, 2013

“An individual should not have too much freedom. A nation should have absolute freedom.” – Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866 – 1925)

He is referred to as the father of modern China.  If there were no Sun Yat-Sen and his revolution, there might not be a modern China as it is known today.

While attending a Christian school in Hawaii (1882), he converted to Christianity, which shaped his revolutionary future. It was obvious that his writing was influenced by American thought. With the support he received from the Hawaiian Chinese community, he networked with Chinese people all over the world.

He went on to publish revolutionary ideas seeking to overthrow the Manchu Dynasty and create the Republic of China. In 1904, he wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

Yet, he was considered an idealistic dreamer—that his ideas were impractical. He said, “The whole world is one family.” (1910)

In 1882, when Sun Yat-Sen was exposed to American politics, the United States was a republic—not the democracy we know today—and women did not have the right to vote yet. What type of republic do you think he wanted for China—one closer to the America of 1882 or today?

Discover The Roots of Madness

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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 love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 5/5

January 9, 2012

Now that we know more about the United States and Hawaii, where Sun Yat-sen lived as a teenager, his concept of a republic would have been very different from what the American democracy looks like 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 was amended to provide for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

If Sun Yat-sen 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 and/or democracy he envisioned for China probably would have excluded many from voting—including all women.

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—not a state—and its people were not considered American citizens.

The republic and/or democracy Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China may possibly have included at last 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 that time.

In fact, it is possible that Sun Yat-sen would not have considered organizing a republic and/or democracy 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 returned to China.

Now that we know the differences between then and now, 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 imagined for China.

How could Sun Yat-sen have envisioned a republic and/or democracy similar to what the United States has today in the 21st century?

In fact, under 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 US had the right to sell their children into servitude and/or slavery depending on which state one lived in.

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 (excluding Jews), which represented about 10% of the population of the US in 1776, which was similar to the voting rights in Hawaii during most of Sun Yat-sen’s life.

Return to The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 4/5

January 8, 2012

If you recall from Part 1, Hawaii was not a democracy modeled after today’s United States when Sun Yat-sen lived there from the ages of 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 at the same time.

It wouldn’t be until 1887, that the Hawaiian King Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution [after Sun Yat-sen had returned to China] of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which stripped him of any authority he had making 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 US Constitution in 1776, and resident whites, who owned the 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 US at this time, many Chinese were relentlessly beaten 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 when the 19th Amendment passed. Source: U.S. Voting Rights Timeline

What do you think Sun Yat-sen learned from these facts about a democracy?

Continued on January 9, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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