May Fourth Movement and 1911 Revolution

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Yunfang YANG
Pac 10 China in Transformation 1900-1949

Note: special consideration granted for 1-week extension. Number: 14998.

Question: “In political, culture and social terms the May fourth movement was far more important than the 1911 revolution”. Discuss.

China made its modernisation through revolutions. There are two historical event scholars believes can be threat as milestone of the transformation: 1911 Xinhai revolution, which brings an end to the two thousand year of monarchy; May fourth movement which carried out by students in Beijing protesting against the unfair treatment China get on the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The word revolution means ‘the fundamental change of power’, where the word movement is ‘a group action asking improvements to be made’. In term of political, cultural and social terms, May fourth movement has a much significant influence than the Xinhai revolution. In fact, Xinhai revolution does not achieve any political improvement of the government. Culturally, there is giant step forward after the 1911 revolution. Lastly from the society point of view, life is only getting worse. Historians believe Xinhai revolution is about Dr Sun Yat-sen’s personal optimism and penchant in politics (Eto & Schiffrin, 1994). Fourth May Movement is a step to the modernisation in political, cultural and social terms.

The expulsion of Manchus does more political damage then the Fourth May Movement. The term politics define as the process by which groups of people make collective decisions (Kymlicka, 2002). Scholars in the present date are still debating whether the revolution to bring China to a republic country is a good idea (Kapp, 1973). At 1900s, China has a population of 400 million; people are influenced by the monarchy for two thousand years. The country itself had only opened to foreigners for fifty years; the revolution in 1900 shows the majority of population rejects western ideas. Many warlords have take advantage of people’s unawareness for person gain. At the point of view of the government, after the revolution, the centralised Beiyang government is only able to govern a few provenances. The rest are controlled by local political powers having their own armies and beyond the central government’s control. The second problem with the 1911 revolution is, even inside the Chinese United Leagues, leaders have no idea of which form of government to use after the revolution becomes a success (Kent, 1999). The original agenda with the Chinese United league is to expulsion the Manchus first then discuss which governing system to use. Even when the 1911 revolution has come to an success inside the Chinese United League itself are still debating which form of government to use,presidential system, cabinet system. When Dr Sun is the president, Presidential system is used, but when Yuan Shikai become the president cabinet system is used in order to reduce his political influence. This not only shows the revolutionists fail to trust Yuan Shikai, also the formation of government is not based on good political will. The political climate at 1911 is full of darkness and violence (Chang, 1987). Different political power are trying all they can to grab all the power. Secrete executions are carried out to the people with different political views. For example, Zhang Zhenwu is executed by Yuan Shikai’s order to damage the political appearance of his Vice president Li Yuanhong who is also the main opposition to his rule. Moreover, Song Jiaoren’s assassination in 1913, after Guomin party wins majority seat in the parliament. Ultimately, the 1911 revolution was not a success. Take into account that Yuan Shikai in 1915 re-establish monarchy and crowns himself the Emperor. Many scholars believe Politically, Xinhai revolution is more of Dr Sun’s optimism but improve China’s political climate.

In comparison to the Fourth May revolution, the results are completely different. On 4th May 1919, some 3000...
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