The first unified Chinese imperial state was established by Qin Shi Huang of the Qin state in 221 BC (it had been made up of provisional states/dynasties before that.) Over the succeeding centuries, China was under dynastic rule; to name only a few: Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan (Mongol) and Ming.
It was rare for one dynasty to change peacefully into the next, since dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they had been defeated.
The Qing Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Qing or Great Qing (including the Manchus,) was the last imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917.
It was replaced by the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China who became the ruling governmental authority of China between 1927 to 1948. It was led by the Kuomintang (also known as the Chinese Nationalist Party, KMT), until the Government of the Republic of China under the newly promulgated Constitution of the Republic of China was established in its place.
After the outbreak of the Xinhai Revolution on October 10, 1911, revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen (November 12, 1866 –March 12, 1925) was elected Provisional President and founded the Provisional Government of the Republic of China.
Sun Yat-sen is the Founding Father of modern China, the Republic of China (Nationalist China) and the forerunner of democratic revolution in the People’s Republic of China.
As part of a philosophy to make China a free, prosperous and powerful nation Sun Yat-sen adopted “Three Principles of the People:” “Mínzú, Mínquán, Mínshēng“ (People’s Nationalism, People’s Democracy, People’s Livelihood.)
But let’s step back a bit and look at the Hawaiʻi ties of Sun Yat-sen and those ties to the China revolution.
As the title suggests, it was here that Sun formed his first revolutionary organization that succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu dynasty, bringing an end to more than 4,000 years of imperial rule in China.
In 1879, then 13 years of age, Sun Yat-sen journeyed to Hawaiʻi to join his older brother, Sun Mei, a successful rice farmer, rancher and merchant. Sun entered ʻIolani at age 14. After three years there, he attended Oʻahu College (Punahou School,) and may have had classes at St Louis, as well.
In Sun Yat-Sen’s four years in Hawaiʻi (1879-1883,) he was exposed to Western ideas, was strongly influenced by them and in his young mind, the seeds of Western democracy were planted. The Anglican and Protestant Christian religious teachings at each rounded his western education. (Sun was later baptized.)
He came to Hawaiʻi on six different occasions, initially for schooling and to support his brother’s businesses on Maui. Later, his trips were geared to gain support for revolutionizing China and fundraising for that end.
On his third trip in Hawaiʻi (on November 24, 1894) Sun established the Hsing Chung Hui (Revive China Society,) his first revolutionary society. Among its founders were many Christians, one of them being Chung Ku Ai, his fellow student at ʻIolani (and later founder of City Mill.)
Shortly after, in January 1895, Dr. Sun left Hawaiʻi and returned to China to initiate his revolutionary activities in earnest. The funding of the First Canton Uprising mainly came from the Chinese in Hawaiʻi (that first uprising failed.)
On another visit to Hawaiʻi (in 1903,) Sun reorganized the Hsing Chung Hui into Chung Hua Ke Min Jun (The Chinese Revolutionary Army) in Hilo.
Another Hawaiʻi tie for Sun relates to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that blocked Chinese travel to the US. In March 1904, while residing in Kula, Maui, Sun Yat-sen obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, issued by the Territory of Hawaiʻi, stating that “he was born in the Hawaiian Islands on the 24th day of November, A.D. 1870.”
He used it to travel to the continent; then, when it was no longer needed, he renounced it.
In 1905, in Tokyo, Sun reorganized the Hsing Chung Hui and other organizations into a political party called the Tung Meng Hui. Likewise, the Chinese Revolutionary Army was reorganized and all of its members became Tung Meng Hui members.
This party spread all over China and rallied all the revolutionists under its wings. He then made his last visit to Hawaiʻi to form the Hawaiʻi Chapter of Tung Meng Hui.
From 1894 to 1911, Sun traveled around the globe advocating revolution and soliciting funds for the cause. At first, he concentrated on China, but his continued need for money forced him elsewhere. Southeast Asia, Japan, Hawaiʻi, Canada, the United States and Europe all became familiar during his endless quest. (Damon)
The revolutionary movement in China grew stronger and stronger. Tung Meng Hui members staged many armed uprisings, culminating in the October 10, 1911 Wuhan (Wuchang) Uprising which succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu dynasty and established the Republic of China.
That date is now celebrated annually as the Republic of China’s national day, also known as the “Double Ten Day”. On December 29, 1911, Sun Yat-Sen was elected president and on January 1, 1912, he was officially inaugurated. After Sun’s death in March 1925, Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT.)
The Republic of China governed mainland China until 1949; in that year, during the Chinese Civil War, the communists captured Beijing and later Nanjing. The communist-party-led People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949.
Originally based in mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek and a few hundred thousand Republic of China troops and two million refugees fled from mainland China to Taiwan (formerly known as “Formosa.”)
On December 7, 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan, the temporary capital of the Republic of China and it now governs the island of Taiwan. Sun Yat-sen is one of the few Chinese revolutionary figures revered in both the People’s Republic of China (mainland) and Republic of China (Taiwan.)
Hawaiʻi and its people played an important role in the life of Sun Yat-sen, as well as in his revolutionary activities. His first revolutionary organization was formed in Hawaiʻi, it developed into the political party directly responsible for the collapse of the Manchus.
People in Hawaiʻi joined the Hui, contributed their efforts and funds and in many instances even their lives to China’s revolution. Sun once said: “overseas Chinese are the mother of revolution”. (Lots of information here from Damon, SunYatSenHawaii-org) (By the way, Hui is Chinese and it means “to gather together.”)
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