Author: Krzysztof Gawlikowski
Institution: Uniwersytet SWPS
Year of publication: 2011
Source: Show
Pages: 31-48
DOI Address: https://doi.org/10.15804/ap201102
PDF: ap/14/ap1402.pdf

Particular Character of the Xinhai Revolution and its Paradoxes

The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 constitutes a turning point in Chinese history: it put an end to the native imperial system, and introduced to China a Western republican system instead, together with the new Han-Chinese nationalism (also inspired by the West).
Unfortunately, the experiment of an accelerated westernization failed, as it happened in post-colonial Africa and in numerous post-Soviet republics. The state collapsed and China suffered from chaos, poverty, and even more brutal oppression by foreign powers. The successful re-building of the state had been initiated only in 1949 under the Communist regime. The new political course initiated in 1978 was to some extent close to that outlined by Sun Yat-sen: national solidarity was propagated instead of class struggle and economic development of China instead of the “world revolution”. National aims, including unification of all Chinese territories, have been adopted, and accelerated westernization was combined with a return to some national traditions. The great emphasis was put on building up new modern infrastructure and borrowing modern science and technology from the West, whereas Western political ideas were treated with suspicion. One could also notice some Sun Yat-sen’s influences in the contemporary Chinese foreign policy.
The author compares the Xinhai Revolution with the French Revolution referring to some of R. Bin Wong’s concepts, but he also adds other differences. He indicates that instead of „the right versus the left cleavage”, the main controversy in China concerned the attitude towards native heritage and westernization. He also analyses the transformation of traditional identities and the evolution of a new nationalism.

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