For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Two Republics in China
How Imperial China Became the PRC
  • X. L. Woo
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Two Republics in China. How Imperial China Became the PRC
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Mr. Woo continues his history of China from 1911, when the Qing dynasty was overthrown after the death of Empress Dowager Cixi, to modern times: a tumultuous century that saw chaos and warlords, invasions, regime change, confiscation of property, bold experiments, errors but also spectacular successes, and eventually the development of a mixed economy allowing some capitalist features. In fact, China now has more than 100 billionaires - but many families lost everything along the way.

About the Author

X. L. Woo has published a series of narrative histories of China with Algora Publishing. Mr. Woo graduated from the prestigious Zhongshan University (Sun Yat-Sen University) in Guangzhou, China, and taught English at East China Normal University in Shanghai for more than ten years, then came to the United States on a visiting professorship at Rutgers University. A bilingual writer and poet, he has published four books in Chinese and several books in English. His essays and columns in Chinese are published in US Chinese newspapers, and one of his novels was published in a local Chinese newspaper in serial form. His translations of poems from both English into Chinese and Chinese into English have been published in magazines in China and Hong Kong.

About the Book
To understand the context of today's international face-off in the South China Sea, readers will appreciate Woo's quick briefing on the extremely bloody Japanese invasion and subsequent repression (1937 to 1941) that left a deep imprint on China's...
To understand the context of today's international face-off in the South China Sea, readers will appreciate Woo's quick briefing on the extremely bloody Japanese invasion and subsequent repression (1937 to 1941) that left a deep imprint on China's worldview.

Since the last decades of the Empire, the Chinese people suffered one seismic event after another as competing political factions fought from one end of the country to the other. Chiang Kai-shek brought a semblance of order by founding the Republic of China in 1928; but the Communist Party was growing, and then came Japan.

After World War II, the Communists drove Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist Party out in 1949, and they retreated to Taiwan, taking with them the designation "Republic of China". Then the author describes the social and economic devastation that attended the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the repression of capitalists - business owners and property owners in particular - and the destruction of the educated classes.

Today, China is moving toward the top position among world powers, a position it enjoyed for centuries prior to Britain's Industrial Revolution. But this has been one long march, indeed.


Introduction

Chapter 1. 1911: How the Last Dynasty Crumbled and Warlords Took Over

Rebellion in Wuchang City

A long line of imperial dynasties had held sway over all (or parts) of China from 2100 BCE to 1911. China was a world unto itself for much of these 4,000 years, but history went off its tracks when the British came in. Smoking...

Chapter 1. 1911: How the Last Dynasty Crumbled and Warlords Took Over

Rebellion in Wuchang City

A long line of imperial dynasties had held sway over all (or parts) of China from 2100 BCE to 1911. China was a world unto itself for much of these 4,000 years, but history went off its tracks when the British came in. Smoking opium had been a serious crime in China, but for the British opium was big business. And they made it far bigger by slaughtering and pillaging, overwhelming the Chinese by 1842 and forcing them to open up their nation to foreign trade. Soon, British merchants flooded the market with opium grown in India, and millions, perhaps more than 10 million, Chinese were hopelessly addicted. China was reeling and the Qing Dynasty was on the ropes.

The Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) had been established by the Manchus, people that had originated in northeastern China (Manchuria). Although some of their ancestors had periodically been in power in ancient times, it was the Han people that were (and are now) the largest ethnic group in China. The Han could not bear the oppression of these Manchus, whose officials, the Mandarins, were increasingly corrupt. As the Qing Dynasty sank into misery, the Han rose up in a series of rebellions hoping to overthrow the rulers and regain the imperial throne. In an era when some of the ambitious young elite were already studying abroad and learning modern ways, the imperial leaders still maintained a traditional army using ancient weaponry including lances and spears. So the overthrow was easy enough—but what next? Read on, and we’ll see.

Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925) was a revolutionary vanguard and he organized the Nationalist Party for the purpose of revitalizing the nation. After a few uprisings were brutally put down, the last successful rebellion broke out in Wuchang City of Sichuan Province, westward along the Yangtze River, upstream from Shanghai. In May of 1911, the Qing government had nationalized or appropriated two railways that were private Chinese companies, without giving the owners any compensation, and then sold them to foreigners. Needless to say, the local people wanted to defend their rights. The most violent reactions took place in Sichuan Province. The Qing government did have a New Army too (trained in the use of guns and cannons), and they sent them in. But in this division, many soldiers and even officers were actually members of the revolutionaries. So some leaders of the Nationalist Party planned a rebellion in the army.

A regiment was camped at the north gate of Wuchang City. Around 6 o’clock, on the 10th of October, many rebellious soldiers marched toward the armory in the city with the intention of seizing it. At that time, in the camp a platoon leader was making his rounds to check on the soldiers and he found that many were absent. He also saw the squad leader was lying on his bed, so he yelled at him, “What are you doing? You want to rebel?” (That’s a Chinese way of putting down one’s subordinates.) The squad leader never had thought much of his the platoon leader, so he replied insolently, “You said I’d rebel. Now I’m rebelling.” A soldier standing nearby simply shot the platoon leader dead.

Now the battalion leader came in and he was shot dead, too. Seizing this opportunity, the Nationalist Party’s point man in the new army, who was the leader of another squad, declared a rebellion and called for his men to take up their arms right then and there.

Soldiers from many different camps came to their aid, the number reaching more than 3,000. They controlled a cannon field and attacked the governor’s residence under the command of Wu Zhaoling, an officer in the eighth battalion. They called themselves the Revolutionary Army. The governor escaped to a warship on the river. The Revolutionary Army occupied the city.

Revolutionaries in Hanyang and Hankou cities also raised the banner of rebellion. On the 11th of October, the Revolutionary Army took over Hanyang City and on the 12th day, they occupied Hankou City. Three cities in a row.

The Establishment of the Republic of China

Then the Revolutionary Army founded the military government and asked Li Yuanhong (1864–1928) to be the governor, and they declared the new state to be the Republic of China. At the beginning of November, at the proposal of Song Jiaoren (1882–1913) and some others, a constitution was drafted and called “The Temporary Constitution of Republic of China.” It had seven chapters and sixty articles. The government consisted of the governor, the congress and the court. People were granted democratic rights, the right to own private property, and the right to do business. The government decided that the 10th of October should be the national day for the Republic of China.

From the 18th of October to the 27th of November, the Revolutionary Army put up strong resistance against the army of the Qing government, which was massive. During those 41 days, most of the provinces declared their independence; only four provinces close to Peking, the capital (now called Beijing), still supported the Qing Dynasty. The governors of the independent provinces controlled the local army and became warlords.

All the independent provinces formed their own military governments. On the 1st of November, the Qing. . . .

 



Pages 218
Year: 2014
BISAC: HIS008000 HISTORY / Asia / China
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-096-1
Price: USD 19.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-1-62894-097-8
Price: USD 29.95
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