Author: Jakub Polit
Year of publication: 2011
Source: Show
Pages: 87-106
DOI Address:
PDF: ap/14/ap1405.pdf

Great Powers and the Chinese Xinhai Revolution

Before the Xinhai Revolution, no foreign power was interested in the overthrowing of the Manchu dynasty. The powers supported the status quo in China in order to advance their own trading and other interests. But the republican revolutionary movement was strongly pro-Western, being identified with various non-government, especially British, groups and institutions.
After the Wuchang uprising Sun Yat-sen attempted to solicit the aid of the British in London. At the same time Japan, a British ally, was prepared to intervene on the side of the Manchus. Although some Japanese sympathized with the revolutionaries, the Saionji Kimmochi’s government wanted to establish a position of preferential influence in Manchuria and dreamt about a pro-Japanese constitutional monarchy. But these goals were impossible to achieve without British consent.
Finally both the revolutionaries and the Manchus accepted general Yuan Shikai as a moderate and relatively progressive president of the new Republic of China. Britain’s role during the negotiations seems to be decisive. Sir John Jordan, His Majesty’s minister in Peking, who mediated and brought about a cessation of hostilities, felt that Yuan (his personal friend) was competent and could be expected to improve the situation. Jordan also overcame Japanese anti-Yuan sentiments. Britain and Japan, the two most powerful foreign powers in China, persuaded other powers (which adopted a wait-and-see attitude) to accept the republic.

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