Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
An Unfinished Republic

An Unfinished Republic: Leading by Word and Deed in Modern China

David Strand
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 408
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    An Unfinished Republic
    Book Description:

    In this cogent and insightful reading of China’s twentieth-century political culture, David Strand argues that the Chinese Revolution of 1911 engendered a new political life—one that began to free men and women from the inequality and hierarchy that formed the spine of China’s social and cultural order. Chinese citizens confronted their leaders and each other face-to-face in a stance familiar to republics worldwide. This shift in political posture was accompanied by considerable trepidation as well as excitement. Profiling three prominent political actors of the time—suffragist Tang Qunying, diplomat Lu Zhengxiang, and revolutionary Sun Yatsen—Strand demonstrates how a sea change in political performance left leaders dependent on popular support and citizens enmeshed in a political process productive of both authority and dissent.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94874-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction: Republican China
    (pp. 1-12)

    Once the 1911 Revolution overthrew the Qing dynasty, monarchy was gone for good in China; revolutionaries drew a line that became a great and defining gulf. In 1915 President Yuan Shikai, who had inherited the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen’s brief and provisional presidency, tried to make himself emperor. Although Yuan had in his possession formidable political skills and resources, he failed miserably in attempting to pick up where the child-emperor Puyi left off at his forced abdication on February 12, 1912. Yuan’s failure was not the result of the early Republic’s clear success. There were few signs the new regime...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Slapping Song Jiaoren
    (pp. 13-51)

    The Chinese Revolution was remarkable for lasting so long and covering so much territory in and out of China. Conventionally thought to commence with the Opium War (1839–42) and end with the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the revolution has few rivals as a protracted conflict. Among them might be the French Revolution, with its five Republics to 1958, and the American Revolution, understood as extending through the Civil War of 1861–65 to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Even a more restrictive bracketing of events requires at least four or five decades to tell the story...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Speaking Parts in Chinese History
    (pp. 52-96)

    More than half a dozen speeches were given at the Nationalist Party convention on August 25, 1912. There were also numerous motions and comments from the floor, an intervention from the gallery, and crowd noises of approval and disapproval of what was said and done, all to the accompaniment of bell ringing as ordered by the chair and band music. The noisy scene at the Huguang Lodge followed the cultural logic of an emerging Chinese republicanism.

    Republics demand political representation, and political parties are designed to transmit public opinion and the popular will. Political activists in China were reasonably well...

  8. CHAPTER 3 A Woman’s Republic
    (pp. 97-145)

    Qiu Jin’s outspoken radicalism was not an anomaly. The 1911 Revolution and the founding of the Republic stimulated the entry of thousands of women into national and local politics. In the immediate aftermath of the 1911 Revolution suffragist and women’s organizations were prominent and numerous, rivaled only by Manchus and Bannermen in their zest for getting organized and expressing their political views.¹ Perhaps this was because women felt they had the most to gain under the Republic, Manchus the most to lose. Government reforms during the last ten years of the Qing dynasty in areas like education had raised expectations...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Seeing Like a Citizen
    (pp. 146-185)

    Political contention produced many, competing images of China. The cohabitation of dynasty and republic in winter 1911–12, followed by twin Presidents Sun and Yuan in spring set a pattern for multiple sovereignties and rival loyalties that continued for decades in civil war and revolution. It was hardly surprising then that Tang Qunying and her sister revolutionaries also sometimes saw double in the form of competing male and female republics.

    As for the entire panorama of what Chinese leaders and their fellow citizens saw in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, one can list emblematic events such as warlord conflict, civil...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Losing a Speech
    (pp. 186-235)

    One sign of Sun Yat-sen’s success as an orator was that he rarely lost a speech. One result of a suffragist’s more challenging role as a female orator was that she met with a mix of victories and defeats, applause and heckling. Sun’s performance at the August 25, 1912, Nationalist Party convention displayed his skill in talking his way out of a shambles, a fortunate talent considering that his political career was studded with many disasters and near-disasters. Not everyone had Sun’s facility with words and presence of mind in public. We know a political device such as public speaking...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Sun Yat-sen’s Last Words
    (pp. 236-282)

    Whatever its final destination in the political arena or history books, modern political oratory begins with citizens assembled before the speaker. The setting may be a face-to-face encounter in a lodge or hotel, a lecture hall built for the purpose, a town square or stadium, or a virtual substitute in which orator and audience are drawn together by an electronic thread that permits a listener to join the crowd or invites the leader in for a more intimate hearing. The vision or ambition of a leader meets or misses the hopes, thoughts, or fears of the people assembled below or...

  12. Conclusion: Leading and Being Led
    (pp. 283-290)

    When word of Sun Yat-sen’s death in Beijing on March 12, 1925, reached her in Hunan, a grief-stricken Tang Qunying wrote a poem titled “I Weep for President Dr. Sun Yat-sen.” She likened the nation’s sorrow to a miasma spreading out from the capital with the news of his passing. Tang recalled her own experiences with Sun and the medal he had awarded her, honors that now left her “conscience-stricken.”¹ Later that month the girls’ school Tang founded in her home county held a memorial service. She supplied two commemorative scrolls titled “Lamentation for President Dr. Sun Yat-sen.” The sentiments...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 291-342)
  14. Glossary
    (pp. 343-346)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 347-372)
  16. Index
    (pp. 373-387)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 388-388)