Xinhai Revolution

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The Sun Yat-sens statue in Wuhan is said to commemorate the uprising in Wuhan. Behind it was the seat of the transitional government of the Republic of China, which was established after the uprising and now serves as a historical museum.

The Xinhai Revolution ( Chinese  辛亥革命 , Pinyin xīnhài gémìng ) was a social upheaval in China at the beginning of the 20th century. The revolution began in the autumn of 1911 and ended with the abdication of the six-year-old Emperor Puyi on February 12, 1912. The first Chinese republic was founded on January 1, 1912 . The end of the reign of the last Manchu emperor Puyi from the Qing dynasty meant the end of the more than 2100 year old Chinese empire that had existed since 221 BC. BC over many dynasties.

The Xinhai Revolution is named after the year 辛亥 " Xīnhài " of the Chinese lunisolar calendar (January 30, 1911 to February 17, 1912, year of the metal pig = 48th lunar year).

The revolution consisted of many revolts and uprisings by several revolutionaries and groups who wanted to overthrow the Manchu government , which was perceived as a colonial power , in order to establish a Han government. In the process, 15 provinces broke away from the dependency of the Qing government. The turning point was reached on October 10, 1911 with the Wuchang uprisings , which were directed directly against the imperial family. As a result, the Qing government withdrew and gave the revolutionaries time and space to create a transitional government.


A political, economic and moral crisis that lasted for several decades, as well as China's increasing loss of sovereignty, led a large part of the country's intellectual elite, who no longer saw career opportunities for themselves, to abandon Chinese traditions and Confucianism as a state doctrine and abandon themselves to Western ones and nationalist ideologies took over. The Japanese victory over Russia in 1905, that is, over a major European power, promoted these nationalist tendencies considerably. In addition to a reform-oriented movement that wanted to maintain the empire based on the Japanese model within the framework of a constitutional state, there was a revolutionary movement that wanted to abolish the foreign rule of the Manchu elites and the emperor and introduce a parliamentary republic. This movement, founded in 1905, had formed in southern China , especially in the European concessions in Shanghai and Hong Kong , as well as among the overseas Chinese in Tokyo . Its founder and leader Sun Yat-sen , who had led a failed uprising in Guangzhou (Canton) as early as 1895 and later went to the USA, had a Confucian upbringing in his childhood, then a Western education. After a number of other unsuccessful uprisings, the revolutionaries retreated underground in 1908.


The trigger for the revolution was rather accidental, even though its outbreak was partly due to current problems in China's economy, which had grown rapidly since the beginning of the 20th century. Under the out of Manchuria spreading pneumonic plague - epidemic of 1910 the trade had suffered because of the railway had been restricted by the European railway authorities to the spread of the disease to avoid the settlement of Europeans. In addition, there was severe flooding of the Yangtze River in midsummer, which affected trade, particularly in Hankou .

At the end of 1911, the so-called "railway riots" began in western China. The Chinese government had taken out a foreign loan and expropriated a railway line owned by Chinese shareholders as collateral. They fought against it by mobilizing the railway workers. Revolutionaries trying to overthrow the Qing government also built bombs, one of which accidentally exploded on October 9, 1911. During a police search of an arms store, lists of members of insurgents were found. These no longer hesitated, so that on October 10 an armed uprising began in Wuchang (more precisely: in Hankou, which is now part of Wuhan) and spread through the southern provinces of China in a wave of republican uprisings. Emperor Puyi sent imperial troops under the orders of Yuan Shikai to suppress the uprising, but within a month and a half, 15 provinces had renounced the Qing government and declared their independence.

By a telegram from Chen Qimei on October 29, 1911, Chiang Kai-shek was moved in time to desert by the Japanese military and to return from Japan and organized an uprising in Hangzhou . On November 3rd, Chen launched an attack with several hundred rebels on the Shanghai manufacturing office. He was captured by the Manchus, but released from prison one day later by his revolutionaries. In a trial of strength with other revolutionary groups in the city, he made himself military governor. In November 1911, the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance Tongmenghui , the forerunner of the later Kuomintang , moved its headquarters from Tokyo to Shanghai. Both her and the Chinese Socialist Party, which was founded shortly thereafter, included many supporters of the anarcho-communist movement who, however, refused to participate in state power. Large parts of China were already controlled by local groups over which the central government in Beijing only had suzerainty on paper.

Sun Yat-sen learned of the successful rebellion against the Qing and immediately returned to China from the United States . On December 6, Empress Dowager Longyu deposed Prince Chun II as regent. On December 29th, Sun was elected interim president of the Republic of China at a conference of provincial representatives in Nanjing . Dowager Empress Longyu signed the "Edict of the Abdication of the Qing Emperor" ( 清帝 退位 詔書  /  清帝 退位 诏书 , Qīngdì tuìwèi zhàoshū ) on February 12, 1912, after General Yuan Shikai signed an agreement between the Imperial Court in Beijing and the Government of the Republic negotiated in Nanjing. As a result, Yuan was named China's first official president. By the "Article on the preferential treatment of the Qing Emperor after his abdication" ( 清帝 退位 優待 條件  /  清帝 退位 优待 条件 , Qīngdì tuìwèi yōudài tiáojiàn ) (also called Benevolent Treaty ), signed together with the new Chinese Republic , was it allows Puyi to retain his titles and to enjoy certain protocol privileges and honors. The Italian " Law of Guarantees " of 1870, which regulated the Pope's status in Italy, served as a model .

In August 1912, Song Jiaoren and Sun Yat-sen founded the Kuomintang in Shanghai, of which Sun became the provisional chairman.

The revolution was followed by a long series of power struggles and civil wars, particularly the Chinese Civil War . Only with the end of the Cultural Revolution should the People's Republic of China experience peace and stability again for a certain period of time.



  • The film " The Last Emperor " from 1987 by director Bernardo Bertolucci , which received nine Oscars , four Golden Globes and other renowned film prizes, describes the life of the emperor and illustrates his role in the Xinhai revolution.
  • The film " 1911 Revolution " by directors Jackie Chan and Zhang Li, released in 2011, is about the Xinhai Revolution. Winston Chao embody the revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen and Jackie Chan one of his most important followers, Huang Xing .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Procurement and Selling of Goods - The Xinhai Revolution ,, accessed on August 27, 2017
  2. a b Hellmuth Vensky, The End for China's Last Emperor , Zeit Online, October 10, 2011, accessed on August 27, 2011
  3. ^ Fritz Wertheimer: German achievements and German tasks in China. Berlin 1913, p. 13 f.
  4. Lawrence M Kaplan: Homer Lea: American Soldier of Fortune , p. 176, accessed August 27, 2017