Democracy in China

Topics: Republic of China, China, Kuomintang Pages: 4 (1350 words) Published: July 29, 2013
Democracy in China
Democracy (Standard Chinese: 民主, mínzhǔ, literally "people main" or "civilian driven") was a major concept introduced to China in the late nineteenth century. The debate over its form and definition as well as application was one of the major ideological battlegrounds in Chinese politics for well over a century. It is still a contentious subject. Andrew Nathan wrote in his 1985 study that "the Chinese have aspired to democracy as they understand it for a hundred years, have claimed to have it for seventy, and for the last thirty-five years have lived in one of the most participatory societies in history Qing dynasty

The first introduction of the concept of modern democracy into China is credited to exiled Chinese writer Liang Qichao. In 1895, he participated in protests in Beijing for increased popular participation during the late Qing Dynasty, the last ruling dynasty of China. It was the first of its kind in modern Chinese history. After escaping to Japan following the government's clampdown on anti-Qing protesters, Liang Qichao translated and commented on the works of Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Hume, Bentham and many other western political philosophers. He published his essays in a series of journals that easily found an audience among Chinese intelligentsia hungering for an explanation of why China, once a formidable empire of its own, was now on the verge of being dismembered by foreign powers. In interpreting Western democracy through the prism of his strongly Confucian background, Liang shaped the ideas of democracy that would be used throughout the next century. Liang favored gradual reform to turn China into a democratic constitutional monarchy. Liang's great rival among progressive intellectuals was Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a republican revolutionary. Sun felt that the democracy would be impossible as long as the Qing monarchy still existed. Democracy was part of his platform, the Three Principles of the People (三民主義) - the...
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