Sun Yat-sen

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San Min Doctrine

Creating Five Branches of Government

Human Rights

Regeneration of Moral Values


The Doctrine of Nationalism

The Doctrine of Democracy

The Doctrine of Livelihood

Farmers and Soldiers

Counter-Revolution and Imperialism 






Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was born in a small peasant village of farmers and fishermen south of Canton, in Kwangtung province, China. He received a traditional Chinese education there until at age 13 he transferred to missionary schools in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he learnt English. After five years, he returned to China to attend Queen’s College, Hong Kong. On graduation he entered Hong Kong Medical College, where he gained his medical degree in 1892. Two years later he produced a remarkable document specifying a plan to modernize China, which he attempted to present to Li Hung-chang, Viceroy of the empire of the reigning Manchu Ch’ing Dynasty. He was ignored (the Viceroy was preoccupied with the Sino-Japanese War) and Sen returned to Honolulu in 1894. There he founded the Society to Revive China, dedicated to expelling the Manchus, establishing a Chinese republic, and reforming land ownership to bring relief to the peasants.


China was in collapse at this time. The empire established by the invading Manchus in 1644 was suffering from an outflow of silver starting early in the Nineteenth Century, causing deflation and an economic slump. The monetary outflow was due to importation of opium from India, which was therefore declared illegal. To protect its drug sales, Britain went to war with China to enforce an increased opium trade, further damaging the Chinese economy, and opening the way for other European powers to gain similar trading benefits. Ports on the Chinese coast became European fiefdoms. The combination of a failed military and economic disruption caused massive rebellions in China. Further military defeats by France and Japan reduced China in Sun’s eyes to "semicolonial status". It was clear that some sort of reform and modernization was needed, particularly since Japan had demonstrated that this could be done.


In 1895 Sun led an uprising in Canton that failed. He fled to escape execution, subsequently spending much of his time raising money for a further revolution. At a conference in Tokyo in 1905, attended by students, mainland Chinese and Chinese merchants resident abroad, Sun formed the T’ung-meng-hui (United League), merging his Society with three other revolutionary organizations. After further failed rebellions, the United League joined forces with revolutionary military units and ousted the Manchu monarchy in 1911. Sun was sworn in as President of a new Chinese Republic in 1912. Unfortunately he relinquished his post to an ambitious  general, Yuan Shi-k’ai.


From the League, Sun founded a new democratic party, the Kuomintang or Nationalist Party, which won a majority in China’s first elections to a National Assembly. By 1914, Yuan had got rid of Kuomintang officers and the National Assembly, and was setting up a monarchical government. Sun, finding no support for Yuan’s ouster had fled to Japan in 1913. When Yuan died in 1916, Sun returned to China. In 1918 he attempted to set up a constitutional government for South China at Canton. This failed and Sun barely managed to escape with his life.


In 1919 Sun published his Program for National Reconstruction. This and other writings became known to students in many cities, who disseminated his message to peasants and other workers. In 1919, after the disastrous treatment of China at the Treaty of Versailles, the students initiated a new urban revolution, the May Fourth movement, with Sun as its most prominent spokesman. Sun was able to establish his authority in Canton and to modernize the city in line with his theories. At this time, he made Chiang Kai-shek commander of the Nationalist Party army. He and Chiang put down an armed uprising by the Canton Merchant Corps in 1924, and agreed to negotiate with warlords who were still in charge of Northern China. Sun went to Peking late in 1924 to plan China’s unification and reconstruction, but was diagnosed as having cancer. He died early the following year.


Sun was a leading figure in the overthrow of millennia of autocratic monarchical rule and in the initiation of a democracy in China. He developed a three-part program as to how this should be done, and late in his life explained this in a series of lectures. His three basic ideas were to restore China as a viable, sovereign nation, removing imperialist incursions, to institute a democratic government, and to improve the livelihood of the Chinese people. Extracts from these lectures and other sources follow.



San Min Doctrine


1    A political constitution is machinery for controlling human affairs. It is machinery contrived to harmonize liberty with autocracy. Ever since we began our revolution, the San Min Doctrine has been our motto. The San Min Doctrine includes the Min Ts'u Doctrine or the Doctrine of Nationalism, Min Ch'uan Doctrine or the Doctrine of Democracy, and Min Sheng Doctrine or the Doctrine of Livelihood.

     The San Min Doctrine corresponds with the doctrine stated by President Lincoln "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people." I translated this into min yu or "people to have," min chih or "people to govern," and min hsiang or "people to enjoy." The people must be able to govern themselves before they can enjoy the blessings of government. If they cannot govern themselves, they will not enjoy. If it is impossible to have "people to enjoy," it is also impossible to have "people to have."


2    The People's Government will reconstruct the Republic of China in accordance with the San Min Doctrine and the Five-Power Constitution.

     The first step in reconstruction is to promote the economic well-being of the people [Min Sheng] by providing for their four greatest necessities of life: namely, food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. For this purpose, the Government will, with the people's co-operation, develop agriculture to give the people an adequate food supply, promote textile industries to solve their clothing problem, institute gigantic housing schemes to provide for them decent living quarters, and build roads and canals so that they may have convenient means of travel.

     Next is the promotion of democracy [Min Ch’uan]. The Government will educate the people and give them the necessary political training for the exercise of their rights of suffrage, initiative, referendum, and recall.

The third step is the development of nationalism [Min Ts’u]. The Government will give assistance to the weaker classes of people and make them capable of self-government and self-determination. At the same time, the Government will resist foreign aggression and revise our treaties with foreign powers so as to re-establish our national independence and international equality.



Creating Five Branches of Government


3    What is a constitution? Briefly speaking, by constitution we mean the division of the political power of the state into different departments, each of which has a specialized function and is independent of the other departments. In the constitution of other nations the power of the state is divided into three departments, so we call this kind of constitution a three-power constitution.


4    One day I picked up a book entitled Liberty, written by a professor in Columbia University. In this book, the author points out the defects of the existing three-power constitution in America, and proposes a four-power constitution, which shall take away the power of impeachment from the legislature and vest it in a separate department independent of the legislative department. The author contends that when the legislature has the power to impeach, unscrupulous legislators misuse this power to intimidate the executive department. In this way the government has no freedom to do anything, and becomes extremely inefficient.


5   We Chinese have an ancient institution, known as the civil service examination, which is a very good way to get qualified people for government positions. In ancient China the only regular channel into government offices was examination. Anyone who came to office by other ways than examination was considered dishonest. The ancient system was extensively used in the feudal period.

     After the monarchical system was established, the importance of the examination system gradually decreased, for the emperor had unlimited time, money, and energy to search for talent and expert knowledge in candidates to public offices. Since he was all-powerful in official appointments, he could appoint anyone whom he saw fit to any office. So he replaced the objective method of examination by the simpler method of personal selection.

     Under the republican form of government, the people are the masters of the nation and they are to choose their public employees. But the people are busy with their own affairs and do not have unlimited opportunities to pick desirable persons for the various offices. The examination system, therefore, is absolutely necessary in the republican experiment. For this reason, I propose to add an examining power to the present three-power system. The independence of the examining power is a proposition of my own and is not copied from anyone else. I firmly believe that if China adopts the examination system, her constitutional machinery will work perfectly.


6 . . .China has had a constitution of three powers, namely, the imperial power, the examining power, and the power to impeach. The imperial power comprised the legislative, the judicial, and the executive powers. The examining power is China's most significant contribution to the theory of government. In olden times, examination was regarded as something extremely important and secret. While it was taking place, the examination halls were locked, so those who took the examination could not communicate with the outside. The readers of examination papers were held strictly to their duty, and favoritism was severely punished. As time went on, however, corruption appeared and the examination system correspondingly lost its significance.

     In ancient China the power to impeach was vested in a specially appointed commission of censors. Some of these have become famous, for example, Chien Yi Ta Fu in the T'ang dynasty and the Yii Shih in the Manchu dynasty. These officials could admonish the emperor for his misdeeds, and they were very strict.


7     When we organized the T'ung-meng-hui (a Chinese revolutionary party) in Tokyo, we used the San Min Doctrine and the Five-Power Constitution [legislative, judicial, executive, examining, and impeachment powers] as our political program. We hoped that when our Revolution [1911] was successful we should be able to put these two into practice. Unfortunately there was misunderstanding among the revolutionists. The thought of the majority was that when the Manchu regime was overthrown, our revolutionary task was finished; so no more attention was paid to the work of reconstruction based upon the San Min Doctrine and the Five-Power Constitution. Consequently for ten years, since the founding of the republic, not only has nothing been done toward building a new nation, but our government has become more and more corrupt. I need not point out today in detail the causes of corruption. But before I pass on, I want to say that if we are to eradicate corruption and if we are to begin a new revolution, we must use the Five-Power Constitution as the basis of our national reconstruction. We must have a good constitution before we can build a true republic.



Human Rights


8    The Kuomintang's Doctrine of Democracy includes direct democracy and indirect democracy. This means that the people will not only have the right of suffrage, but also the rights of initiative, referendum, and recall.


9    Universal suffrage is to be carried out. The old regulation limiting the right of election to the propertied class only will be abolished.


10   The people's rights' to freedom of belief, freedom of residence, freedom of publication, and freedom of public speech will be established by law.


11   A census of the people should be taken; cultivated land should be properly examined; and the production of food supply should be regulated, so that the people may not be in want of food.


12   Labor laws will be enacted, labor conditions will be ameliorated, labor organizations will be protected, and the general advancement of the laboring class will be promoted.


13   A reorganization of the farming communities will be effected so as to improve the life of the agricultural population.


14   Legal, social, educational, and economic equality between the sexes will be recognized, and the general development of women's rights will be encouraged.


15   Universal education will be effectively carried out. Education for the development of children's individuality will be speedily attended to, school systems will be revised, education budgets will be increased, and the independence of educational institutions will be guaranteed.


16   Systems for the relief of the aged, for the care of children, for providing pensions for the disabled, and for providing education for the mass of the people will also be attended to by the Party in order to better the conditions of the less fortunate classes.



Regeneration of Moral Values


17   According to the old moral system, the most important virtues are: first, filial piety (hsiao) and loyalty (chung); next, humanity (jen) and love (ai); thirdly, sincerity (hsin) and righteousness (yi); and lastly, love of peace (ho p'ing). While many of our people still emphasize these virtues, the "new culturists" who are influenced by foreign moral teachings are trying to overthrow our old moral system and adopt a new code of morality. This is very unfortunate for it has caused a moral disorganization of the nation so that at the present time [1924] the rank and file of the country are altogether confused as to which moral code they should follow. As a result, neither the new morality nor the old morality is effective, and now the nation is plunged into a disgraceful condition of anarchism and chaos. We ought to preserve the old moral values that are good and at the same time reform harmful traditions.


18   The old idea of loyalty was to be loyal to the Emperor. Since there is no Emperor in the Republic, some people consider the virtue of loyalty no longer necessary. This is a misconception. Although the idea of personal loyalty to the Emperor is overthrown, we must be loyal to the nation, to the people, and to the cause for which we work and live. Loyalty to the nation requires that the individual be willing to sacrifice for the public welfare, even to the giving up of his life.


19   The virtues of humanity (jen) and love (ai) are well established in old Chinese ethics. Mo Tzu's philosophy of love is as easily comprehended as that of Jesus. In our political philosophy, such maxims as "Love thy people as thy children, and "Love men and be humane to creatures", indicate that our ancient philosophers included everything in the word ai or "love." Some people maintain that our philosophy of jen and ai is not as good as that of the Westerners, because they come to China and establish schools, hospitals, and philanthropic institutions, while we merely philosophize. In truth, ours is just as good as that of the foreigners, but our weakness lies in that we do not practice our moral teachings as faithfully as the foreigners. What we should learn from the foreigners today is not philosophy, but their way of practicing philosophy.


20   The revival of ancient classical learning is equal in importance to the regeneration of old moral values. Our philosophy of life and our political ideas are in many respects superior to those of the West. For instance, the statement in the Great Learning (Ta Hsueh) about the different stages of securing world peace—from the investigation of facts, extension of knowledge, sincerity of thoughts, rectification of mind, cultivation of personality, regulation of families, wise administration of states to universal tranquillity—is a perfect political system of thought, and none can be found in the West as perfect as this.

     This idea expressed in the Ta Hsueh that the task of securing world tranquillity should begin with the individual mind, not only furnishes a wonderful moral basis, but also represents the most advanced type of human intellection.


21   When the days of our prosperity come, we must not forget the pain and misery which we are now suffering from the pressure of economic and political forces of the [imperial] Powers. When our country becomes powerful, we should assume the responsibility of delivering those nations which suffer in the same way as we do now. This is what the Ta Hsueh means by "securing world tranquility" (p'ing t'ien hsia). The way to proceed is to revive our spirit of nationalism and to restore our country to its original position of a "Single Power." We should use our old moral values and our love of peace as the foundation of national reconstruction; and look forward to the day when we shall become leaders in world reconstruction upon lines of international justice and good will.





22   Chinese politics are different from foreign politics historically. The Chinese political history has been a development from freedom to autocracy, while foreign political history has been one from autocracy to freedom. Confucius, in his writings, refused to go farther than the dynasties of Shun and Yao. These two dynasties were described by Confucius as a period of peace and prosperity. At that time, people enjoyed the greatest blessings, namely, freedom and equality.

    In subsequent periods, the free government of ancient China degenerated into an autocratic government. Why? Because the importance of liberty had been overlooked by the common people; and through their negligence, they lost their liberties to ambitious emperors, who took the opportunity to make themselves absolute rulers of the country.


23   Let me tell you the constitutional significance of this difference between Chinese and foreign politics. As has already been said, Chinese political history has moved from freedom to autocracy. Since ancient China had such wise rulers as Yao and Shun who made the people enjoy peace and prosperity, peculiar social and political ideas sprang up. For instance, an ancient poet said,


                          "I obtain my food by farming,

                          And my drink by digging a well.''


And Lao Tzu said,


                         "The country can be governed without exertion.''


These statements prove that the ancient Chinese had so much liberty that they did not appreciate its importance. Foreign writers, who have not known this fact about China, have ridiculed the Chinese for not knowing the value of individual liberty. As a matter of fact, the Chinese enjoyed abundant liberty from the days of Yao and Shun to the end of the Chou dynasty [255 BCE].


24   In the course of my revolutionary career, I have seldom preached liberty because the Chinese people appreciate only the importance of political reform, and not the importance of liberty. Our emperors were contented as long as they could keep their throne from one generation to another. They never interfered with the private affairs of the people so long as the people paid their taxes faithfully and so long as they were obedient to law.

     On the other hand, the people were satisfied no matter who was on the throne, so long as the government did not interfere with their private affairs. This kind of political psychology has avoided the extreme evils of absolutism in China. Foreigners, not knowing this state of affairs, have criticized the Chinese for not understanding liberty.


25   Where Europe surpasses China, is not in political philosophy, but in material civilization. The so-called modern living, as well as powerful armies and navies, comes from the development of science. Science is young; it was brought into existence during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by great experimentalists like Bacon and Newton. Europe of two hundred years ago was not equal to China. What we should learn from the West is not political philosophy, but science.


26   European achievement of power and wealth was not so much due to battleships, cannon, or military strength as to the fact that there is in Europe a full development of human talents, a full return from the soil, a full utilization of human and natural materials, and easy transportation of commodities: these four factors are the foundation of national strength. Indeed China must adopt Western methods to make her strong. Yet by making powerful cannon and ships and neglecting the other four factors, she is beginning at the wrong end.



The Doctrine of Nationalism


27   The Kuomintang's Doctrine of Nationalism has two implications: the first is the emancipation of the Chinese people, and the second is the equality of all the races within China.

     First of all, the purpose of the Kuomintang's Doctrine of Nationalism is to restore liberty and independence to the Chinese people. Before 1911, the Chinese people were governed by the Manchus who, in turn, were not free, but were under the dominant influence of the imperialistic Powers. At that time, the function of the Nationalist movement was, on the one hand, to free the Chinese people from the Manchu rule, and on the other hand, to prevent the partition of China by the Powers. The first object, namely, the overthrowing of the Manchu rule, was accomplished by the revolution of 1911. But the imperialistic Powers have still kept a dominant influence in China.

     Although the danger of political partition seems to be averted, the danger of international control is imminent. In other words, the Powers have substituted for their policy of military conquest a policy of economic exploitation; and the result of imperialistic economic exploitation is the same as the result of military conquest, namely, the loss of independence and liberty on the part of the Chinese people. Not only are the militarists in the country allying themselves with the imperialists, but the capitalist class is also trying to get as much as possible from the common people. Thus, the Chinese people are prevented from making progress in economic activities as well as in political activities.


28   Since Nationalism aims to stop the imperialistic invasion of China, it is a doctrine by which all classes will be equally benefited. Without the realization of the Doctrine of Nationalism, the manufacturers will be forever hindered from achieving economic prosperity and development by the foreign domination of business in China. At the same time, the workers will have to depend for their living upon either foreign capitalists or Chinese militarists, and so will have to keep on living in a status of slavery.


29   The second aspect of the Doctrine of Nationalism is racial equality. Before 1911 the Manchus alone were rulers of China. This autocratic position of the Manchus was brought to an end by the Revolution, and it was replaced by a policy of cooperation among all races in China on the basis of equality.


30   The Book of Records or Shu Ching says that King Yao was able "to illustrate the great virtues and to harmonize nine families," that "after the nine families were brought to great harmony, he educated the people," and that "when the people were well disciplined, he brought peace to all nations, and good will prevailed on earth." . . . the methodology of Yao, like that of ours, was to begin his moral and political teachings with the family, then the nation-group, then the world. We must proceed first to strengthen the family or clan organizations as a step toward reviving our nationalism.



The Doctrine of Democracy


31   It has been found that so-called representative governments often have not been truly representative of the people, and that they have been only tools used by capitalists to exploit the common people. According to the Kuomintang's Doctrine of Democracy, the people's rights should be enjoyed by all the people, not by a few privileged individuals only.


32   Democracy . . . is the outcome of four periods of struggle. The first period was characterized by the struggle of men with animals; and the second period by the struggle between men and nature. In fighting against animals physical force was used. In the second period, the shen ch'uan [theocracy] or the divine power was most popular. During the third period when men fought with men, or nations fought with nations, or one nationality fought with another nationality, chun ch'uan [autocracy] was used extensively.

      We are now in the fourth period: a period characterized by the struggle between good men and bad men, or one between justice and might, regardless of national boundaries. This is the min ch'uan [democracy] period, for during this period the right of the people is regarded as the supreme object of struggle.


33   Two thousand years ago our philosophers had already realized the importance of democracy and that the country had outgrown monarchism. They declared that a ruler governing with regard for the welfare of the people was a sage ruler and that one who governed against the will of the people was not legally a king, but a "single fellow" or a social outcast. Meanwhile they emphasized the point that the people should rise up to drive out "single fellows." A great theory of revolution! The Chinese, therefore, have preached democracy for over two thousand years. They, however, regarded a democratic system of government as still a little too idealistic to meet the needs of practical life, and so they did not put the philosophy into practice until very recently.


34   Confucius said: "When the great doctrine is practiced, the world is the public property of all." In other words, Confucius perceived the value of a socialized world. Moreover, Confucius always quoted the words of Yao and Shun, because Yao and Shun were the most prominent exponents of ancient republicanism. Mencius said: "The people are the most important element of the state, the territory comes next, and the king last." He said also: "I have heard of the execution of the 'single fellow' Chow, not of regicide." It was said in the Classics: "God sees as my people see and hears as my people hear."


35   Real equality can be developed only through one channel; that is, absolutely equal opportunity for all men at the beginning to develop the best qualities in them without hindrances imposed by society. . . the bottom line must be level in order to allow men of all grades an equal chance to start. Let the more intelligent make greater headway. When society tends to curb the achievement of the more intelligent in order to help the less intelligent, its social progress will at once be arrested. If we, therefore, desire democracy, equality, and world progress, we must first create the political equality of men. Equality can only be created by furnishing everyone in the nation equal opportunity for the development of his individual qualities.


36   Only when there is democracy, can liberty and equality be realized; otherwise, they are nothing but empty terms. Although liberty and equality were the original purposes of the Kuo-mintang in setting up the Revolution, "democracy" is the principle and the motto which the party has adopted. The party feels that if it succeeds in setting up a democracy, we shall automatically enjoy the blessings of liberty and equality.  



The Doctrine of Livelihood


37 Min sheng, if I may be permitted to define it, refers to the people's livelihood, social existence, national economy, and group life. It has for its subject matter the greatest problems that have been brought before Western nations during the past hundred years: it embraces the whole Social Question.


38  . . . livelihood is the determinant of all social activities and that lack of normal development in the livelihood of the people not only checks the progress of social culture and the reform of economic organization, but also causes moral degeneration, social inequality, oppression of labor, and class struggle; and that livelihood is the cause, and social changes are the effects. I pointed out also that our doctrine of livelihood includes communism and socialism, and that communism is not an enemy of the doctrine of livelihood, but its good friend.


39   Since the theories of socialism and of communism were introduced into China, they have not only become popular subjects for study and research, but have also become the motivating force of many new social and political movements, because the Chinese scholars and political agitators have believed also in these theories as solutions of the Social Questions of the modern world. But we soon discovered that it was difficult to find a satisfactory answer to the problems of modern industrialized society in any of the socialistic theories, and that we therefore must go on searching for a new solution. In order to avoid the traditional confusion in the use of the term socialism, I am, therefore, calling the doctrine under discussion Min Sheng Chu I or the "Doctrine of 'Livelihood,'" not She Hui Chu I or "socialism."


40   In order to clear away confusion in our thinking upon the Social Question, the old principle of the materialistic determination of history must be overthrown, and in its place we must put livelihood as the center of social history. Only when we have made a thorough study of the central problem, the problem of the people's livelihood, will it be possible to find a solution of the Social Question.


41   As to the regulation of capital: big industries such as banks, railways, and steamship lines which can be favorably operated by a monopoly or are of such dimensions as to exceed the power of individual investment, should be managed by the state. In this way, the private capitalists can have no power to interfere with the normal economic life of the people. We believe that if these two principles are successfully carried out, a sound foundation will have been laid for the solution of the problem of the people's livelihood.


42   To the workers, the Kuomintang has also a special message. For centuries, the Chinese government has not done anything to ensure the livelihood of the working class. According to our principles, the state should help the unemployed and pass laws to improve the conditions of the laborers.



Farmers and Soldiers


43   Although the system of large land-holding is not developed in China, nine-tenths of her farmers are nevertheless tenants. What they cultivate is someone else's land; and those who own land do not as a rule cultivate it. It is only just that the farmers should have their own land and own what they produce. At present, this is not so: our farmers have to hand over to the landlords most of what they produce every year, because they do not own the land. According to one of our latest rural surveys, sixty per cent of the annual yield from the land goes to the landlord and only forty per cent goes to the farmers. What an injustice! The farmers have to toil hard for their produce and then are robbed by the landlords of the larger portion of what they get, while the farmers themselves are left in poverty or to starvation. If this state of affairs is allowed to go on, the farmers, as they become better educated, will not be willing to work hard for nothing, and they will desert the farms, leaving the land waste and unproductive. Conversely, if the farmers own their land and have complete possession of their produce, all of them will be happy to produce as much as possible.

     Thus the only sound method of increasing our food production is legislative protection of peasant interests in accordance with the principle of equalization of land rights.


44   We should like to say this to the farmers: China has been and still is an agricultural nation, and of all the classes of people, the agricultural class has suffered the most from economic exploitation.

     According to our Doctrine of Livelihood, the state will provide land for cultivation to those farmers who have been deprived of their land or to those who have suffered from their landlords. Irrigation systems will be provided, and colonization schemes will be devised to help those farmers who are without land of their own. Farmers' banks will be established to facilitate rural credits. It is the earnest hope of the Party that everything be done to restore normal happiness to the farmers.


45   Chinese soldiery has been composed largely of farmers; yet the soldiers themselves are unaware of their duty to serve and to protect the people, the majority of whom are farmers. Although imperialists are dangerous enemies of the people, our soldiers do not know the importance of fighting against imperialism and militarism; they have, on the contrary, been utilized by the militarists to fight against the welfare of the people. The Kuomintang regards these facts as a great anomaly, and perceives that the cause of this state of affairs is that poverty has compelled the soldiers to serve anything or any organization which can provide for them a subsistence or a living.


46   In view of the fact that the Kuomintang is trying its best to educate its own soldiers and to transform them into armies which exist really for the good of the people, the soldiers of the nations should all offer themselves to fight for the cause of the People's Revolution. Those soldiers who have served in the revolutionary army will have the option of returning to agriculture with a grant of a large tract of land, so that they can maintain themselves and their families.


47   It should be the duty of the state, where the San Min Doctrine is followed, to see that every one of its citizens is well supplied with necessary clothing. At the same time, I must emphasize once more—the people must fulfill their duties of citizenship toward the state; any one who does not fulfill his duties of citizenship forfeits his rights of citizenship, and his privilege of being a master of the nation. He is only a vagabond and is the common enemy of the state and of the society. In that case, the government should resort to legal or forceful methods to transform the vagabond into a sacred worker, and to make him enjoy his rights of citizenship as others do. When all vagabonds are eliminated and everybody in the state is a producer, there will be plenty of food, plenty of clothing, peace, and prosperity. And the problem of livelihood will then be solved.



Counter-Revolution and Imperialism


48   The People’s Revolution aims at the protection of a free, independent nation. Such a free, independent nation might have come into existence after the campaign of 1911, which destroyed the despotic and aristocratic rule of the Manchus. If, at that time, the members of our party, a party based upon the interests of the nation and of the common people, had destroyed all existing counter-revolutionary influences, we would have had political stability during the last thirteen years, and would have made considerable progress in the task of national reconstruction along economic, educational, and other lines.


49   But the counter-revolutionary influences have survived! They have brought irreparable losses to our nation and to our people due to their internal maladministration and diplomatic defeats. Inheriting antiquated despotic ideas, the counter-revolutionists have struggled to maintain the traditional position of privilege,. Yuan Shih-k'ai tried to make himself emperor; Chang Hsun tried to restore the boy emperor to the throne; Feng Kuo-chang and Hsii Shih-ch'ang destroyed the Republican Constitution; and Tsao  K'un and Wu P'ei-fu came into power through bribery and other illegal means.


50   The counter-revolutionaries have been able to survive because of the support of foreign imperialists; there is abundant evidence to prove the truth of this statement. In 1913 when Yuan Shih-k'ai decided to suppress the revolutionary movement by force in order to make himself the emperor of China, the Consortium Loan of two hundred and fifty million dollars was put through; and so Yuan was given a huge sum for military expenditure.

     Afterward, throughout the regimes of Feng Kuo-chang and Hsu Shih-ch'ang, each period of civil war was preceded by a huge foreign loan. Recently, just as Tsao K'un and Wu P'ei-fu decided to send a punitive expedition to the southeastern provinces, the Gold France Case, which had been pending for a long time, was suddenly settled. All these facts serve to show without the least doubt that the direct cause of our civil wars during the last thirteen years has been militarism, and the indirect cause has been imperialism.


51   Now [1924] our allied armies in Chekiang have declared war against Tsao K'un and Wu P'ei-fu; and Mukden is taking a concurrent action with Chekiang. The Revolutionary Government hereby proclaims that the northern expedition is being undertaken in order to co-operate with the rest of the country in destroying Tsao K'un, Wu P'ei-fu, and other traitors. But we solemnly declare before the people and the allied forces that the aim of our punitive expedition is the destruction of not only Tsao and Wu, but of all other persons who choose to follow the example of Tsao and Wu. Moreover, this war is not only directed against militarism, but against imperialism, whose support has made the existence of militarism possible. Not until then will the root of the counter-revolution be permanently eradicated and China elevated from the position of a sub-colony to that of a free, independent nation.


52   During the European War [1914-1919], I established the Constitutional Government in Canton. One day the British Consul-General called on me at the Generalissimo's office to talk over the possibility of the Southern Government's entrance into the War. I asked:

     "Why should we enter into the War?"

     "Fight Germany," the Consul-General replied, "because she has robbed you of Tsingtao, and you should get it back."

     "Tsingtao," I said, "is far away from Canton. How about Hong Kong, Burma, Nepal, and Bhutan which were once either our own territory or tributary states, and which are much closer to Canton than Tsingtao? At the present time you have an eye on Tibet. Ordinary logic suggests that if China is strong enough to get back her lost territories, she should proceed first to get back the closer and bigger ones. Tsingtao is but a small place, and Burma is bigger than Tsingtao, and Tibet is still bigger."

     "I came to talk business!" remarked the irritated Consul-General.

     "I am talking business too!" I answered.

     We stared at each other for a long time. Then I broke the silence by saying:

     "Our civilization is two thousand years ahead of yours. While we are only too happy to help you to advance yours to our stage, we cannot be pulled backward by you. Two thousand years ago we abandoned imperialism and militarism. We have been peace-lovers ever since. We would of course welcome the War if its purpose were peace, justice, and equality; but as a matter of fact you always prefer war to peace, might to right. We consider the brutalities of your might as nothing short of barbarism. So we shall let you alone until you are tired of war. Perhaps the day of real peace will come, and then you and I will work together for the common good of mankind."

     "I have another reason, a very strong reason," I continued, "for my refusal to enter the War. It is this: I do not want to see our nation transformed into a militaristic nation, a nation defying justice and right as is the case with your nation."





1, 3-7, 22-24 The Five-Power Constitution, lecture to Kuomintang. Canton, July, 1921.

2, 8-16, 27-29, 31, 41, 42, 44-46, Kuomintang Declaration at First National Convention. Canton, January, 1924.

17-21 National Morale and World Tranquility, Doctrine of Nationalism—Lecture 6. Canton, March 2, 1924.

25, 52 Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism, Doctrine of Nationalism—Lecture 4. Canton, February 17, 1924.

26 Letter to Li Hung-chang, Viceroy of China, June, 1894.

30 Methodology of Nationalism, Doctrine of Nationalism—Lecture 5. Canton, February 24,1924.

32-34 Democracy: Its Meaning and History, Doctrine of Democracy—Lecture 1. Canton, March 9, 1924.

35, 36 Democracy and Equality, Doctrine of Democracy—Lecture 3. Canton, March-April?, 1924.

37, 39, 40 The Social Question: Definitions and Solutions, Doctrine of Livelihood—Lecture 1. Canton, August 3, 1924.

38 The Problem of Land and Capital, Doctrine of Livelihood—Lecture 2. Canton, August 10, 1924.

43 The Problem of Food, Doctrine of Livelihood—Lecture 3. Canton, August 17, 1924.

47 The Problem of Clothing, Doctrine of Livelihood—Lecture 4. Canton, August 24, 1924.

48-51 Manifesto on the Northern Expedition, September 18, 1924.


These sources are contained in Sun Yat-sen, His Political and Social Ideals, translated by Leonard Shihlien Hsu. University of Southern California Press, Los Angeles, 1933.


Authors born between 1665 and 1700 CE

Darwin ] Tolstoy ] Hardy ] [ Sun Yat-sen ] Gandhi ] Rodó ] Zitkala-Sa ]



Introduction and selection of  extracts Copyright © Rex Pay 2006