Sun Yatsen Touted as Ideological Father of Beijing and Taipei
Both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan celebrated "Double 10", the hundredth anniversary of the October 10 Revolution that marked the end of the Manchu dynasty and the beginning of the Chinese Republic.
The leader of that rebellion was Dr. Sun Yat-sen who had received his education in the United States and was interested in bringing foreign technology and ideas to China to help liberate her from backwardness and Imperial domination.
Communist parties have traditionally not praised revolutions that preceded their own, but Sun Yat-sen created an interesting problem. His original hope was to build a liberal democracy in China, modelled upon the United States and Western Europe.
He reversed his position during the First World War after the liberal democracies abandoned China to Japanese imperial designs, since Japan had been an important ally against Germany during the First World War. Sun Yat-sen then turned to a country that had succeeded in ousting foreign intervention and unifying the country – the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was willing to accept Sun Yat-sen's ideology as the roadmap for China. A China without industry could not hope to sustain a communist revolution.
Military and political advisers were sent to help in the expectation that a unified China would be a friend of the Soviet Union and could make life difficult for the imperialist powers who also posed a mortal threat to the Soviet Union.
The plan backfired after the death of Sun Yat-sen when his Nationalist party was headed by son-in-law Chiang Kai-shek, who turned against both his erstwhile communist allies and against the Soviet Union. Mao became the Communist leader and Sun's ideas were deemphasized in favor of the new luminary Mao.
Sun made a comeback in the post-Mao era when Deng Xiao Ping borrowed his ideas to modernize China. On Sunday a portrait of Sun Yat-sen graced a stage on which current and former leaders of communist China were seated.
Chinese President Hu Jintao called Sun Yat-sen "a great national hero, a great patriot and a great leader of the Chinese democratic revolution. The 1911 revolution was termed "a thoroughly modern, national and democratic revolution." The revolution was credited with freeing the minds of the Chinese people and opening the way for progress in China.
Hu still referred to the Communist Party as the "core power" that was responsible for Chinese success but the praise for Sun Yat-sen was lavish indeed.
Behind these encomia lay the hope of reunification with Taiwan that is soon to have an election. Beijing ironically favors its old rivals, the Nationalists, the party of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek.
The speech was an appeal to a common ideological lineage as 10 October is National Day in Taiwan. As Sun Yat-sen received his initial support from the overseas Chinese Beijing, also uses Sun as an example to rally the overseas Chinese today behind the Chinese regime.
Sun Yat-sen's granddaughter, the 76-year-old Lily Sui-fong Sun, accused the Communists of distorting her grandfather's ideology that was essentially taken from Lincoln's Gettysburg address a "government of the people, by the people, for the people".
She claimed that she was approached by the leadership in Beijing that offered her $10 million to sponsor activities surrounding the anniversary. She declined the money claiming that this was an attempt to buy her off.