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The 1911 Chinese Revolution

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The 1911 Chinese Revolution (Xin Hai Revolution)

Asia 2270

Yu Tao



  The 1911 Revolution kicked out the Qing dynasty and broke the barriers to different developments in China. However, the 1911 Revolution has only provided a framework of a republic and made changes in some particular aspects related to immediate problems and difficulties in society. The relationship between the revolution and the subsequent development of China was very weak. On one hand, I do not agree with the later part of the statement that the 1911 Revolution brought new problems to China. The conflicts and problems that China suffered in the early 1910s were mainly due to the weakness of the military force, conflicting political organizations and disorder in society. On the other hand, I agree with the first part of the statement that the 1911 Revolution did not bring peace to China afterwards. In the following paragraphs, I am going to focus on explaining the reasons of emerging new problems in China and also illustrate my points on the factors of the 1911 Revolution which could not bring in peace to China related to the conditions of the country.

  It is undoubtedly the military weakness which was one of the main factors for bringing new problems to China, she was attacked by other countries. Many members of Guomindang were from bourgeois class and the diversity of membership was not large enough. The size of the army commanded by the government was quite small and some historians even said the government had no military force of its own. Most of the military forces in the provinces had declared independence as revolutionary forces. Due to the existence and effects of the imperialist powers carried over from the Qing dynasty, military forces were still ruled by man, not nation or law. Lack of national integration for military forces was one of the biggest problems in China at that time. Military forces became one of the compulsory ways to make changes in national leadership. The New Army was the best trained and best equipped imperial military force in the Qing dynasty. Therefore, Yuan Shikai, who was the commander of the New Army, could get the place of Prime Minister from Sun Zhongshan after 1911 Revolution. Yuan agreed to a 25 million Reorganization Loan to support his army without parliamentary discussion and appointed officials of his own choice. However, like Yuan Shikai, officials such as Li Yuanhong and Duan Qihui did not have the military forces and power to control other regional military leaders. This resulted in the rise of warlords and wars between regions always broke out. Violence and assassination became ways to change the political situation. Moreover, he revived the monarchical system and subsequently appointed himself as emperor. This conveyed that Yuan’s behaviors destroyed the democratic system of the Republic. Due to his political actions, Sun and some activists founded the Chinese Revolutionary Party to oppose Yuan. Yuan Shikai was one of the major factors that caused social instability and failure of new democratic system of China. Besides military weakness, conflicting political organizations with different political views were another major factor. In Guomindang, there were two sides of intellectuals- Sun Zhongshan was militant while Hang Hsing and Wang Qingwei were conservatives. Sun did not agree with Huang’s promotion of socialism and Wang expressed strong objection to radical political measure. This suggested that there was disagreement among Guomindang leaders. Sun needed to get the support from his colleagues to isolate Yuan Shikai at that period and he insisted everyone in the New Chinese Revolutionary Party must swear sign a pledge that they would ‘obey and follow’ Sun personally. This practice of Sun violated his original idea about democracy. This showed feudalism still existed. Compromise is an integral part of the democratic process. However, Sun and Yuan didn’t try to settle their scores, in contrary, they used their power and military forces to solve the problems and this had a negative influence afterwards similar to the image of warlords.  

  Apart from that, many complex changes in social, economic and political development cannot be totally accepted by China. New political views and conceots from Western political systems were only accepted by a part of population- Chinese elites. Majority of China was not prepared to change. Some traditional values and beliefs were still firmly supported by most of the Chinese. This was conducive to the gap between Chinese intellectuals and masses of Chinese. Sun Zhongshan’s Rule of Democracy was not actually promoted.



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