Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山

A great pioneer of China’s Democratic Revolution


Chinese Name: 孙中山

English Name: Sun Yat-sen, Sun Zhongshan

Other Names: Sun Wen 孙文, Sun Yixian 孙逸仙, Sun Dixiang 孙帝象, Zhongshan Qiao 中山樵

Born: November 12, 1866

Died: March 12, 1925


Establishment of the Chinese Kuomintang 建立国民党

Founding the Republic of China 开创中华民国

Create Huangpu Military Academy 创建黄埔军校

Create Sun Yat sen University 创建中山大学

Main Works:

Three People’s Principles 三民主义

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
Sun Yat-sen孙中山

Brief Biography of Sun Yat-Sen

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山, was a great national hero, a great patriot, a great pioneer of China’s democratic revolution, the founder of the Republic of China 中华民国 and the Kuomintang 国民党, an advocate of the Three People’s Principles 三民主义, and founded the Five Power Constitution 五权宪法. He first held the flag of complete anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
Sun Yat-Sen Statue in Beijing 孙中山

Sun Yat-Sen was born in Cuiheng village 翠亨村, Xiangshan 香山 County (now Zhongshan City), Guangdong Province on November 12, 1866. Sun Yat-Sen studied medicine in Hong Kong and became a doctor of Western Medicine. After the Opium War鸦片战争, Sun Yat-Sen saw that the Chinese nation was in danger of being divided up by Western powers and decided to abandon the “Give Medical to People 医人” and carry out the “Give Medical to the Country 医国”. Influenced by Zheng Guanying’s郑观应 reform thought in his early days, Sun Yat-Sen saw the corruption of the Qing government and was determined to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and establish the Democratic Republic.

On November 24, 1894, Sun Yat-Sen founded the Xingzhong Society兴中会(Revive China Society) in Honolulu.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
The House where Xingzhong Society always meet

In 1905, the China Alliance was established. On October 10, 1911, he was elected the interim president of the Republic of China.

On March 12, 1925, Sun Yat-Sen died of cancer in Beijing. On June 1, 1929, according to his last wish, he was buried in the Zhongshan Mausoleum of Zijin Mountain in Nanjing 南京中山陵.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
Zhongshan Mausoleum of Zijin Mountain in Nanjing

In 1940, the national government ordered the whole country to call him “the Father of the Republic of China”.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Devoted to the Revolution

In 1894, Sun Yat-Sen established the Xingzhong Society in Honolulu. Sun Yat-Sen drafted the constitution of the Xingzhong Society, emphasizing the seriousness of the national crisis caused by imperialist aggression against China, and stipulating that “Revitalizing China” is the main purpose of the association. He also drafted a secret oath for membership and put forward the revolutionary proposition of “expelling the Tartars, restoring China and establishing a united government”, which is China’s first democratic revolutionary program aimed at establishing a new system.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山

In 1905, revolutionary groups were established among international students in Belgium, Germany and France. During this period, they also established contacts with domestic revolutionary groups and revolutionary martyrs. In August, Sun Yat-Sen, Huang Xing and others established a national bourgeois revolutionary party China Alliance中国同盟会 in Tokyo, Japan, based on revolutionary groups such as Xingzhong society and Huaxing society. Sun Yat-Sen was elected prime minister.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山

The establishment of the Chinese Alliance has effectively promoted the development of the national-revolutionary movement. Sun Yat-Sen sent people to develop, organize and publicize the revolution at home and abroad. From 1905 to 1906, he also went to various parts of Southeast Asia to publicize and raise revolutionary funds from overseas Chinese and founded branches of the alliance in some places. He widely spread the bourgeois-democratic and Republican Thought and made more people devote themselves to the anti-Qing revolution. Sun Yat Sen’s criticism of the reformists made a strong ideological preparation for the outbreak of the revolution of 1911. From 1906 to 1911, the alliance organized several armed uprisings in South China. Sun Yat-Sen formulated strategic guidelines for the uprising and ran overseas to raise funds for the uprising.

Overthrew the Monarchy

On October 10, 1911, Wuchang Uprising武昌起义 broke out, and all provinces responded one after another. After hearing the news in the United States, Sun Yat-Sen returned home in late December. That is, he was elected as the interim president of the Republic of China by the representatives of 17 provinces with 16 votes for and 1 vote against each province. On January 1, 1912, Sun Yat-Sen announced his inauguration in Nanjing and formed the interim government of the Republic of China.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
Sun Yat-Sen served as interim president of the Republic of China

On February 12, Emperor Xuantong (Puyi溥仪) announced his abdication. The rule of the Qing Dynasty in 267 and the autocratic monarchy of more than 2000 years were overthrown and the Republic was established.

Sun Yat-Sen formulated and promulgated a series of laws and decrees on reform and progress. On March 11, he promulgated the provisional constitution of the Republic of China with the constitutional nature of the bourgeois republic.

The Three People’s Principles

The Three People’s Principles, also translated as Three Principles of the People, San-min Doctrine, or Tridemism, is a political philosophy developed by Sun Yat-sen as part of a philosophy to improve China. The three principles are often translated into and summarized as nationalism, democracy, and the livelihood of the people. This philosophy has been claimed as the cornerstone of the Republic of China’s policy as carried by the Kuomintang (KMT); the principles also appear in the first line of the national anthem of the Republic of China.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山

The Principle of Mínzú (民族主义) is commonly rendered as “nationalism”, literally “Populism” or “rule/government of the People”, “Mínzú/People” clearly describing a nation rather than a group of persons united by a purpose, hence the commonly used and rather accurate translation “nationalism”. 

The Principle of Mínquán (民权主义) is usually translated as “democracy”; literally “the People’s power” or “government by the People.” To Sun, it represented a Western constitutional government. He divided the political life of his ideal for China into two sets of “powers”: the power of politics and the power of governance.

The Principle of Mínshēng (民生主义) is sometimes translated as “the People’s welfare/livelihood,” “Government for the People”. The concept may be understood as social welfare and as a direct criticism of the inadequacies of unregulated capitalism. 

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
Three People’s Principles三民主义

Sun Yat-Sen formulated the theory of the three people’s principles as the guiding ideology, aiming to establish a republic owned by the people, governed by the people and enjoyed by the people, and harmonious society of freedom, equality, and fraternity. He vowed to take “Fraternity博爱”, “The World is the Public天下为公” and “World Harmony世界大同” as his own responsibility, realize the sharing of civilization and common progress between China and the world, and establish a world of great harmony for the public, create a harmonious, healthy and happy-human society.

Sun Yat-Sen 孙中山
the world is the public 天下为公

Video: The Father of Modern China – Sun Yat-sen

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