Author: Agnieszka Łobacz
Institution: retired diplomat, expert on China
Year of publication: 2020
Source: Show
Pages: 106-124
DOI Address:
PDF: ap/23/ap2305.pdf

Official reception of Sun Yat-sen in the years 1981–2016

The paper examines the official reception of Dr Sun Yat-sen to whose programme the communist authorities turned in search of ideological foundations for the new policy of ‘reforms and opening’ promulgated after the end of the so-called cultural revolution. The analysis, based on speeches of leaders at gatherings commemorating anniversaries of Sun’s birth and outbreak of 1911 Revolution, finds that the ideas of Sun – addressed as great national hero, great patriot, great fore-runner of revolution – helped to mobilise people to carry out current national tasks with the great renaissance of the Chinese nation as the most important. The speeches exhort to follow Sun’s indomitable will of a great revolutionary in order to work hard towards this noble goal, which he envisaged as ‘rejuvenation of China’ as early as 1894. Sun Yat-sen’s ability and readiness to correct and refine his ideas which led him to accept of Marxism (with no further elaboration as to the extent of this acceptance) and to co-operate with the Chinese Communist Party was emphasised the most by the speakers. CPC is portrayed as the truest and steady heir of Sun Yat-sen’s programme, the heir who finalized his struggle for establishing China as a genuinely independent state granting social justice to its nation. Strongly emphasized is the topic of unification of China – meaning the unification with Taiwan – prominently quoted as one of Sun’s ultimate goals. Speakers refer to Sun Yat-sen’s appeal on ‘China’s obligation to make a contribution to the mankind’ once China’s proper position in the world has been restored. The leaders’ approach to Sun’s programme is selective and somehow simplified, limited to the political challenges of the day. Fortunately, an upsurge of research on Sun Yat-sen’s works by the academic circles in China since the 80s has brought more in-depth findings.


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