10/05/2011, 00.00
CHINA

China’s Communist Party celebrates 1911 Revolution in low key

Wang Zhicheng
The event is marked by exhibits, movies, museums and seminars, but no word about democracy. Sun Yat-sen sought the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, but China’s Communists want them as one to ensure their dictatorial rule. In Taiwan, he is the ‘Father of the Nation’; on the mainland, he is a “pioneer” of the revolution.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – On 10 October 1911, the Qing dynasty was swept from power ending the Chinese Empire’s 2,000 years of history. In its place, the Republic of China was founded. The date is important on both sides of the Taiwan Strait because both governments lay claim to the legacy of the revolutionary movement that led to Asia’s first democracy.

Both in the mainland and on the island, the calendar to mark the centennial is full of events and meetings. However, in China discretion and censorship are de rigueur because Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Chinese republic, was also a staunch defender of democracy and the separation of powers. China’s Communist Party is opposed to both principles even if it views Dr Sun as a ‘pioneer of the revolution’.

Seminars, books, movies, exhibits and other celebrations have been organised but talks about democracy have been cancelled at the last moment by the authorities, no explanation given. For example, Professor Yuan Weishi , a historian from the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, said he was to give a public speech on the 1911 revolution last 17 September but the city’s lawyer association and the China University of Political Science and Law called it off at the last minute.

Still, the mainland has honoured the man. On 1 October, the day when the People’s Republic was founded, Chinese authorities placed a portrait of Dr Sun Yat-sen across from that of Mao in Tiananmen Square.

In the city of Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, a photography show dedicated to the 1911 Revolution opened recently in front of the office building of the Hubei Military Government, which was established one day after the Wuchang Uprising that ushered in the revolution.

Sun’s mausoleum in Nanjing also continue to draw visitors, over 50,000 tourists on Saturday, according to Xinhua.

Naysayers note however that celebrations for Sun Yat-sen and 1911 Revolution (Xinhai) are low-key compared to those in Taiwan, where Sun is seen as the ‘Father of the Nation’, and an inspiration for the country’s cardinal principles: nationalism, democracy and people’s wellbeing. Others believe that Sun’s low profile is probably designed not to overshadow the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party, celebrated last July.

Indeed, the Communist Party and its dictatorship are being questioned now. Historian Lei Yi said many of the goals of the 1911 revolution, most notably constitutional democracy and the rule of law, have yet to be realised on the mainland.

Alexander Pann Han-tang, chairman of the Asia Pacific Taiwan Federation of Industry and Commerce, said that Chinese President Hu Jintao and China’s current leadership claim to be following in Sun’s footsteps, especially in terms of modernising the country’s infrastructures (railway, ports, roads, etc), which Sun had described in 1921. However, "Of the three principles, China has come a long way with two, nationalism and livelihood” and “has a great deal to do with the third, democracy”.
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