Author: Bogdan Góralczyk
Institution: Uniwersytet Warszawski
Year of publication: 2011
Source: Show
Pages: 11-30
DOI Address:
PDF: ap/14/ap1401.pdf

The Xinhai Revolution from the Viewpoint of Chinese History

This is not a study of history where the meticulous author attempts to present the course of events. It is rather an exercise in political science of searching the reasons behind certain decisions, events and processes. The Author comes to the conclusion that the original reason why the Xinhai Revolution took place was mainly domestic, not international. Isolationist China could not catch up with the rest of the modern world, and already in the early 19th century she became outdated in both political and economic terms. It was China’s isolationism, immense pride and negation of the outside world which later brought about the Opium Wars, and the constant decline of the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Thus, internal instability, starting from the Taiping Revolt, and external intervention of foreign powers were, of course, also important, but secondary in this course of history.
The Xinhai Revolution, initiated by the so-called Wuchang Incident happened by accident but brought about, in effect, a revolutionary change, terminating the Chinese Empire and initiating a republican model of governing. Unfortunately, the collapse of imperial power was not followed by domestic stability. On the contrary, the warlords’ activities and Yuan Shikai’s attempt to restore the Monarchy were a series of fatal deeds and mistakes. China has become divided and remains so – until today. However, it is to be noted, that recently the different opinions concerning Xinhai between the two main opponents on the Chinese scene in 20th century, the Communist Party of China and the Nationalist Party of Guomindang, as well as across the Taiwan Strait, seem to be getting closer to each other. Is this a sign of China’s final unification which was one of the dreams of the “father” of the Xinhai Revolution, dr Sun Yat-sen? It is too early to come to such a conclusion, but the process – again – is worth being observed. One hundred years after Xinhai the whole Chinese community (diaspora) is closer to each other than any time before in the past since the Empire collapsed. That’s why Xinhai seems to be more important than ever before.

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