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In Political, Cultural And Social Terms The May Fourth Movement Was Far More Important Than The 1911 Revolution. Discuss.

2899 words - 12 pages

The 1911 Revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen is one of the most significant events in the history of China. It marked an end to the world's most remarkable span of imperial history, dating back 2133 years when Shi Huangdi first unified China (Gascoigne, 2003: 204). However, the change from autocratic monarchy to republic did not bring about the sort of fundamental political, social or cultural changes that one would normally expect from a revolution that smashed a 2000 year old feudal monarchy. Many scholars argue that the 1911 Revolution was not in fact a revolution at all. This statement is very much debatable, but conventional wisdoms asserts that the 1911 Revolution did not fulfil its potential.Given these circumstances how true is the deeply held view that the political, cultural and social impacts of the May Fourth Movement were far more important than the 1911 Revolution? Mao Zedong was certainly amongst those who championed the role of the May Fourth Movement in the development of China, he wrote in January 1940: "Its outstanding historical significance is to be seen in a feature which was absent from the Revolution of 1911, namely its thorough and uncompromising opposition to imperialism as well as to feudalism" (Mao Ze Dong, 1940: x, quoted in Mackerras, 2006: 28-29).In order to answer this question I will examine the significance of the 1911 Revolution and explain that these merely planted the seeds for a series of events of much greater historical significance, namely the May Fourth Movement, whose political, social and cultural influences had far greater immediate and long-term consequences.However before examining the significance of the 1911 Revolution it is important to understand the political climate on which it was founded, by examining the collapse of the Qing dynasty. (Spence, 1996: 48-53) provides an account of the previous few years before the 1911 Revolution where many revolutionary groups within China became allied with the republican movement of Sun Yat-Sen. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen called for the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of a democratic republic. The anti-Qing movement developed with increasing momentum and brought about a succession of uprisings in Sichuan (over the government's railway policy), followed by a rebellion of the soldiers of Wu Chang in Hupei, leading to revolutionaries seizing important centres all over the country in October 1911. In rapid succession province after province declared themselves independent of the Manchu Court, and on February of 1912 it was announced from the palace that the child emperor Puyi was abdicating. The development of a Constitutional Republic in China had begun.(Sheng, 1983 and Yu, 1962) argue that despite these developments the new republican government never really got off the ground and that the 1911 Revolution was a failure. It is certainly easy to accept this point of view given the immediate consequences of the Revolution; namely the collapse of the Qing...

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