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Who is Sun Yat-Sen?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Sun Yat-Sen is an important Chinese revolutionary leader known as "The Father of the Republic" and "The Father of Modern China." He spent twenty years trying to revolutionize China. In 1912, Sun did become president of the Chinese Republic, but his rule was brief as it was aggressively stolen by Yuan Shih-Kai.

The three principles behind Sun Yat-Sen's political philosophy are democracy, equalization and nationalism. These became known as The Three People's Principles. Sun did not want foreign imperial power to control the Chinese government, but for the government to be democratically elected. Sun also believed in a more equal distribution of wealth with government participation in distributing it.

According to Sun Yat-Sen, the ideal democratic system includes the civil service, the legislative, the censorial, the judicial and the executive branches of government. Sun's theory holds that the people should have four powers: the right to vote, the power to recall, the power to change old laws and the power to create new laws.

Sun Yat-Sen was born 12 November, 1866 in Cuiheng, Guaugdong, China. His father is Sun Dacheng and his mother, Madam Yang. Sun had three sisters and two brothers. He ran a medical practice between 1892 and 1894, but felt that his life was too traditional, so he pursued his interest in politics.

Sun's brother, Mei, was a laborer in Hawaii and sent for Sun to join him there to attend a British missionary school. It was there that Sun Yat-Sen converted to Christianity and became baptized. His brother was not expecting Sun's religious conversion. Sun also attended the Diocesean Boys School and then Queen's College in Hong Kong before going to medical school.

Sun Yat-Sen was married twice and had a mistress. His second marriage was bigamous since he was still married to his first wife at the time. He had two daughters and one son. Sun died of liver cancer in Beijing on 12 March, 1925. Sun Yat-Sen's political ideals and ideas lived on in Chiang Kai-Shek's 1928 nationalist government.

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