Prescriptions for Saving China: Selected Writings of Sun Yat-sen (Google eBook)
For the first time, more than forty selected writings of Sun Yat-sen, the father of the Republic of China, have been collected and translated into English. The writings, which span his entire political career (from 1894 to 1924), are accompanied by explanatory notes and an introduction that discusses the historical context and significance of Sun Yat-sen's thought.
Sun Yat-sen is still revered in both the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People's Republic of China. The living legacy of Sun's thought is evident on Taiwan, where since 1949 the Kuomintang (KMT) party has applied his principles to create a modern Chinese society and, in the process, forged an economic and political miracle based on pluralistic marketplaces. On mainland China, Sun is recognized as a leader of early twentieth-century China whose ideas were a catalyst for revolutionary action.
The collection begins with Sun's famous letter to Viceroy Li Hung-chang in 1894 (instructing him in how to reform China) and concludes with his farewell address to the graduating class of the Whampoa Military Academy in Canton in 1924, one year before his death (the speech argues that KMT members should submit to party discipline). The lectures, speeches, and essays cover the breadth and span of Sun's vision for a strong modern China and trace the refinements in the cornerstone of his doctrine, the Three Principles of the People.
The Three Principles of the People were first conceived in 1906 as the guiding precepts for Sun's revolutionary organization. The Principle of Nationalism addressed the problem of foreign domination and the restoration of national sovereignty; the Principle of Democracy was a plan for empowering the people to govern themselves; and the Principle of the People's Livelihood dealt with economic reforms for free markets that would distribute income equitably.
As evidenced in Sun's writings, his expression of these principles significantly changed over the years as he considered Western concepts and contemporary influences and movements, including the socialist revolution in Russia. He tried to fit those new ideas into a framework that did not ignore traditional Chinese ideals and values derived from Confucianism.
Sun Yat-sen last enunciated his principles in 1923 in a series of lectures in Canton. The expression of his ideas had an added dimension that dealt with practical applicability, moving from the definition of philosophical and political ends to revised means for achieving those ends. For instance, he modified his Principle of Democracy, insisting that a period of political tutelage, with authoritarian one-party rule, was necessary before China could achieve representative government.
This first-rate translation of Sun's important speeches and documents allows Western audiences to savor his unique, idiomatic style and trace the evolution of his ideas as he grappled with the tensions in the path toward China's salvation. It is a measure of Sun's prescience that his ideas are as relevant and resonant today as they were at the beginning of the century.
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