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.

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Sun Yat-sen’s Republic in China: Part 2 of 4

April 13, 2016

The answer to the question I asked in Part 1 has nothing to do with the government of the United States as it exists today, but it does have everything to do with the politics of Hawaii when Sun Yat-sen lived there for four years of his young life, the structure of the United States government, and who could vote at that time.

Sun Yat-sen attended a Christian British Bishop’s school in Hawaii for four years. His model on a Chinese republic may have been based on the beliefs of America’s Founding Fathers, who despised democracy as mob rule. Since Sun attended a British school, we may assume safely that he also learned about the British parliamentary system where the prime minister is not elected to office but is the leader of the majority party and there is no term limit. In fact, there was no term limit for the president of the U.S. until 1947, long after Sun’s death.

According to Sun Yat-Sen Hawaii Foundation, he arrived in Hawaii in 1879 at the age of thirteen. He then spent four of his teenage years being educated in Hawaii. China’s first revolutionary society, the Xing Zhong Hui (Revive China Society) was organized in Hawaii in 1894 more than a decade after Sun left.

Sun Yat-sen would later be involved in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and a failed attempt to establish a republic in China. He never achieved his goals during his lifetime.

Whatever Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic might look like had to be formed during the four years he lived in Hawaii as a teenager.  The Sun Yat-sen Timeline shows that he returned to China in 1883.

To learn what Sun Yat-sen may have believed means learning about the political structure of Hawaii and the United States between 1879 and 1883.

Continued on April 14, 2016 in 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 1 of 4

April 12, 2016

Dictionary.com defines a republic as “a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.”

Sun Yat-sen remains unique among 20th-century Chinese leaders for having a high reputation both in mainland China and in Taiwan. In Taiwan, he is seen as the Father of the Republic of China. On the mainland, Sun is seen as a Chinese nationalist and proto-socialist, and is highly regarded as the Forerunner of the Revolution (革命先行者). He is even mentioned by name in the preamble to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“Sun Yat-sen was born in 1867 and died in 1925. Sun was a nationalist revolutionary who believed that the only way for China to move forward in the early 1900’s was for the country to become a republic and adopt western ways in industry, agriculture etc. Unless China did this, Sun was convinced that she was doomed to remain backward by western standards.” – historylearningsite.co.uk

There you have it.  Sun Yat-sen wanted a republic in China based on the American model. Has his dream been realized?

The easy answer is yes, but what Sun Yat-sen envisioned as a republic for China may have been exceeded by the Chinese Communist Party.

We will never know exactly what Sun Yat-sen wanted for a republic in China.

However, we can gain a better idea of what his vision may have been by discovering what it was like in Hawaii and America at the time Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii before it was a territory of the United States.

First, Hawaii was a Republic [1894 -1898] before it became a territory of the United States [1898 – 1959], and before it became a state in 1959.

In fact, a commission during the administration of President Grover Cleveland (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) concluded that the removal of Queen Lili’uokalani was illegal, and the U.S. government demanded that she be re-instated.

Then in 1993, a joint Apology Resolution regarding the overthrow of Hawaii’s Queen was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, apologizing for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In China today, there are more than 80 million voting members in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and China’s president—elected by the 2,987 members of National People’s Congress—is limited to two, 5-year terms. In addition, about 600 million rural Chinese are allowed to vote for elected village leaders and the candidates do not have to be a member of the CCP.

Did you know that the President of the United States is elected by the 538 members of the U.S. Electoral College and not by the popular vote? If you don’t know the answer to that question, watch the following video.

Continued on April 13, 2016 in 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.

A1 on March 13 - 2016 Cover Image with BLurbs to promote novel

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If China government isn’t a Monarchy or a Dictatorship, what is it? Part 3 of 4

December 12, 2014

Before we move on, let’s take a brief look at the Athenian democracy that was developed around the 5th century B.C. in the Greek city-state of Athens. Even though there is evidence that democratic forms of government existed before the 5th century, ancient Athens is generally believed to be the first democracy.

What did that democracy look like? Athens had a system of direct democracy, in which participating citizens voted directly on legislation and executive bills. But participation was not open to all residents: to vote, one had to be an adult, male citizen, and the number varied between 30,000 and 50,000 out of a total population of around 250,000 to 300,000—about 150,000 were slaves.

In comparison, the membership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is now 86.7 million—men make-up 77 percent of CP’s membership, while woman make up 23 percent—making the CCP the world’s largest political party representing more than 6 percent of China’s population, and slavery is illegal just like it is in the U.S.

In Part 2, I explained why China was not a monarchy or a dictatorship. In this post and in Part 4, I will show why China is becoming more like the republic Dr. Sun Yat-sen may have imagined by combining Western thought with Chinese traditions.

After Mao died, The Communist Party worked for several years to draft the 1982 Constitution, which included term limits of two five-year terms for elected government officials.

If you have read the Chinese Constitution carefully, it is obvious that the U.S. Constitution was used as a model. However, these two documents are not the same.

If the Party leadership is not happy with China’s president, he can be removed after one five-year term. There is even an article of impeachment in China’s Constitution.

China’s first president was Li Xiannian (1983 to 1988). He served one, five-year term, and then he stepped down.

From 1988 to 1993, Yang Shangkun would be China’s president for one five-year term. Deng Xiaoping (born 1904 – died 1997) was the Chairman of the Communist Party from 1983 to 1993, which was ten years—what China’s 1982 Constitution calls for, but Deng never served as the country’s president.

Due to how the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 was handled, President Yang had to step down at the end of his first, five-year term. The only other way to remove him would have been through impeachment.

In 1993, Jiang Zemin became President and Chairman of the Communist Party. Then in 2003, Hu Jintao became President and Chairman of the Party. His term ended in 2012 when Xi Jinping became president of China.

Continued in Part 4 on December 13, 2014 or return to Part 2

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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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If China government isn’t a Monarchy or a Dictatorship, what is it? Part 2 of 4

December 11, 2014

The Economist implied in the October 23, 2010 issue of the magazine, that China is a monarchy.

However, China is not a monarchy as the Kim Dynasty in North Korea has become or a dictatorship-monarchy as many in the West think.

In North Korea, what started as a Socialist Dictatorship modeled on Maoism has become a Socialist Maoist Monarchy.

China, on the other hand, started as a Socialist Dictatorship under Mao (1949 to 1976) and is becoming a fledgling republic with Western critics looking for cockroaches and slugs under rocks.

In fact, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of China’s Republic, wrote that he wanted to model China’s government after America but by combining Western thought with Chinese tradition.

He didn’t say he wanted China to be a clone of America’s Republic.

America was still a Republic prior to World War II. The US wouldn’t become a full-fledged democracy until the 1960s.

Unfortunately, Dr. Sun died in 1925 before he could finish what he started.

It wouldn’t be until after Mao died in 1976, that the leaders of the Communist Party under Deng Xiaoping would start the long journey to implement Sun’s dream of a Republic against great pressure from Western democracies to copy them.

Continued in Part 3 on December 11, 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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