The Republic of China: Restoring a Father’s and a Nation’s Life Story

Memo #167 – One of the most famous modern Chinese writers, Pai Hsien-yung [Bai Xianyong白先勇], has just brought out a photo-biography of his father, Pai Chung-hsi [Bai Chongxi 白崇禧]. The book, Father and the Republic, was published in spring, 2012 simultaneously in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China—a breakthrough, a transcendence of political barriers. Continue reading

100 Years after the Xinhai Revolution

Memo #108 (Theme: 100 Years after the Xinhai Revolution)

Today, on October 10, 2011, the world is commemorating the centennial of the Xinhai Revolution, which ended the Qing Dynasty and founded a republican China. In a series of Memos we examined the impact that the revolution and its aftermath have had on China and its neighbours.   

The Democracy Card, by Diana Lary (Memo #102)… Continue reading

One Hundred Years of Waiting

Memo #107 – For many Chinese, the Xinhai Revolution will be recalled on October 10 as modern China’s founding moment a century ago. The revolution ended an imperial system whose foundations go back millennia. In those terms, 1911 was a great success. But suppose that, rather than look backward, we look ahead. What if we measured the republican revolution by the republic it ushered in, and not the empire it ushered out? Continue reading

The Middle Mountain of the Xinhai Revolution

Memo #104 – Growing up in Canada, my relatives would always remind me that my family came from the same county as Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the “Father of China”, when I was picked on by other kids because I was Chinese. This seemed like cold comfort. But it turns out that my relatives understood the relationship between the rise of modern China and the role of the overseas Chinese. Continue reading

The Xinhai Revolution and Counter Revolution on the Frontiers of Republican China

Memo #103 – The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and the subsequent founding of the republic sought to remould China as being composed of five nationalities: Han, Manchu, Mongol, Tibetan, and Uyghur. This vision of a multi-ethnic nation had no appeal to Tibetans and Mongols. .In divergent ways, the Xinhia revolution created an opportunity for China, Tibet and Mongolia to creat a modern nation state. Continue reading

The Democracy Card

Memo #102 – The goal of the Xinhai Revolution, for its leaders, was to establish a democratic republic in China. Working out how to celebrate the centenary of the revolution on October 10, 2011 has not been easy. The republican ideal has been achieved, but in most of the Chinese world, democracy has not. Only the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan) and Singapore have full democracy. Hong Kong has a free press, rule of law, and limited elections. The Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) has virtually no democracy, despite the many rights and freedoms listed in the constitution. Continue reading