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Cheng Kuan-ying (1841–1920): A Source of Sun Yat-sen's Nationalist Ideology?

  • Key Ray Chong

Chinese scholarship, in its quest for an explanation of the beginning of Sun Yat-sen's nationalist ideology, San-min chu-i (“The Three Principles of the People”), has yet to grapple with the complexity of his ideological makeup. Unfortunately, scholarship has been inhibited (and will probably continue to suffer, at least in the foreseeable future) a great deal by a certain persistent point of view in both Nationalist and Communist Chinas when it comes to the study of Sun Yat-sen as a whole. This inhibition has stemmed, in the main, from the fact that Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China, has thus far been regarded as someone to worship rather than someone to study with a critical mind.

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1 Ying-k'ang, Wang, “Cheng Kuan-ying ch'i-jen chi chʻi ssu-hsiang” [The Profile and Ideas of Cheng Kuan-ying], Shih-hsüeh yüeh-kan [Monthly Historical Study], Vol. 1 (January, 1958), 34. This journal has been known formerly as Hsin shih-hsüeh tʻung-hsün [Thorough Investigation of New Historical Study] issued by the Honan chapter of the Chinese Historical Association.

2 Ibid., pp. 34–35.

3 Although there is no extant evidence to substantiate that the year 1892 was the beginning of the relationship between Cheng Kuan-ying and Sun Yat-sen, Wu Hsiang-hsiang, nevertheless, contends on the basis of his estimation and content analysis of the ideas, particularly on agriculture of the two, that both Cheng and Sun came to know each other around 1892. For a detailed discussion, see the forewords given by Hsiang-hsaing, Wu, (ed.), Cheng Kuan-ying: Sheng-shih wei-yen tseng-ting hsin-pien [The Newly-revised Edition of The Warnings to the Seemingly Prosperous Age] Vol. 1 (Taipei, 1958), ii. (Hereafter SSWY)

4 Shao-po, Chʻen, Hsing-chung hui ko-ming shih-yao [A Brief Revolutionary History of the Hsingchung hui] (Taipei, 1956), pp. 78. Strangely enough, Sun never made any direct remark on his attempt to see Li Hung-chang in Tientsin in his two autobiographies, although he mentioned his trip to the North, together with his bosom friend Lu Hao-tung. Since Chʻen Shao-po was one of the faithful followers of Sun's early revolutionary movement, his remark on Sun's attempt to have audience with Li can be considered primary evidence. For Sun's account of this period, see his two autobiographies in Kuo-fu chʻüanchi [Complete Collections of Sun Yat-sen], (Taipei, 1961), Vol. 1, 32; Vol. II, 81. (Hereafter KFCC)

6 Wang Ying-kʻang, op. cit., p. 34.

7 Ho Chʻi and Hu Li-yüan were graduates of Huang-jen Shu-yüan, known as Queen's College, established and run by British missionaries and both studied abroad. Moreover, Ho Chʻi was a son of Ho Fu-tʻang who was a Christian minister and missionary of tremendous repute in Hong Kong. For a detailed account see Mei-sheng, Me, “Chi-tu chiao tsai Kuang-tung” [Christianity in Kwangtung], Kuang-tung wen-wu [Literary Collections of Kwangtung], Vol. VIII, 9798. Wang Tʻao was not a completely converted Christian although he worked for British missionaries for many years in Shanghai and Hong Kong. However, he seems to have been interested in the religious doctrine of Christianity at one time or another. For further information on Wang, see Cohen, Paul A., “Wang Tʻao's Perspective on a Changing World,” in Feuerwerker, Albert, Murphy, Rhoads, and Wright, Mary C., eds., Approaches to Modern Chinese History (Berkeley, 1967), pp. 133–62; Wang T'ao and Incipient Chinese Nationalism,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. XXVI, No. 4 (August, 1967), 559–74.

8 SSWY I, i–ii

9 KFCC I, 32.

10 Linebarger, Paul M. W., Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Republic, (New York, 1925), p. 180; see also Hsiang-hsiang, Wu, ed., Shu-pao [Detailed Daily], (Taipei, 1965), p. 196; Sun l-hsien hsien-sheng [Master Sun Yat-sen], Vol. I (Taipei, 1965) I, 5055.

11 SSWY I, 25–30.

12 KFCC V, 1.

13 For further discussions see Wu Hsiang-hsiang, Sun I-hsien hsien-sheng, I, 57; Hung-jen, Chou, Chung-kuo min-chu ssu-hsiang yün-tung shih, [History of Democratic Thought Movement in China], (Taipei, 1964), p. 84.

14 Hung-jen, Chou, “Kuo-fu shang Li Hung-chang shu chih shih-tai pei-ching” [The Historical Background of Sun Yat-sen's Letter to Li Hung-chang], Ta-lu tsa-chih [Continental Magazine] Vol. XXIII, No. 5, (September, 1961), 159.

15 SSWY I, 44.

18 Throughout his entire writings, Cheng Kuan-ying expressed his admiration for Western institutions and technological arts, largely because they were more effective and practical than China's counterparts. However, little evidence is to be found insofar as his respect for Western ideas is concerned. For this, see Wang Ying-kʻang's article as mentioned above.

19 SSWY I, 248.

20 Ibid., I, 55–56.

21 KFCC V, 2.

22 Ibid., III, 508–9

23 Sun's pro-Japanese sentiment, though vacillating from time to time, reached its apex during his last visit to Japan on his way to Tientsin in 1924. During his short sojourn in Japan, Sun made a series of speeches among which the speech entitled “Pan-Asianism” [Ya-chou chu-i] can be considered typical. For further accounts, see Jansen, Marius B., The Japanese and Sun Yat-sen (Cambridge, Mass., 1954) and Chong, Key Ray, Sun Yat-sen's Political Views on Japan and the Japanese (1964) Unpublished M.A. thesis, the Far Eastern and Russian Institute, the University of Washington, (Seattle).

24 “KFCC III, 514–15.

25 Ibid., III, 512–13.

26 Ibid., 513.

27 Chi-tʻao, Tai, Sun Wen chu-i chih che-hsüeh te chi-chʻu [The Philosophical Foundation of Sun Yatsen's Doctrine], (Taipei, 1954), p. 9.

28 KFCC I, 176.

29 Ibid., I, 35; II, 84.

30 For a further discussion, see Kanichi, Hatano, Chugoku Kokuminto tsushi [A Comprehensive History of Kuomintang in China], (Tokyo, 1943) p. 9.

31 KFCC IV, 55–9; V, 1–14.

32 In the beginning of his lectures on min-sheng, Sun used the traditionally accepted terms such as kuo-chi min-sheng. For further discussion, see KFCC I, 176, 180 in particular.

33 For this controversial subject, read Te-shao, Wang, Kuo-fu ko-ming ssu-hsiang yen-chiu [A Study of Sun Yat-sen's Revolutionary Ideas], (Taipei, 1962), p. 3.

34 Hsiang-lin, Lo, “Kuo-fu ko-ming chih chu-chang tui yü Ho Chʻi yü Cheng Kuan-ying chih yinghsiang” [The Influence of Sun Yat-sen's Revolutionary Ideas upon Ho Chʻi and Cheng Kuan-ying] in Yü Yu-jen, eds., Kuo-fu chiu-shih tan-chʻen chi-nien lun-wen chi [Collections of Essays in Commemoration of the Ninetieth Birthday of Sun Yat-sen], Vol. I, (Taipei, 1962), 3.

35 SSWY I, iii-iv.

36 Ibid., I, iii-iv; see also KFCC V, 11.

37 SSWY I, iv.

38 Ibid., I, v.; see also Ibid., II, 1159.

39 Ibid., I, v.

40 Nozawa Yutaka, Son Bun [Sun Yat-sen], (Tokyo, 1962), p. 27.

41 Wang Tʻaoʻs letter to Li Hung-chang, then Viceroy of Kiangsu province, can be found in the Tʻao-yiian chʻih-tu [Letters of Wang Tʻao], Vol. VII (1882), 1a10b.

42 SSWY II, 1155.

43 KFCC V, 3–5.

44 SSWY II, 1156.

45 Ibid., II, 1160.

46 KFCC V, 11.

47 Ibid., V. 11–12.

48 SSWY II, 1159.

49 KFCC V, 11.

52 SSWY II, 1159–62.

53 KFCC V, 12.

54 Ibid., V, 4.

56 SSWY II, 1171.

57 Ibid., II, 1185.

58 Ibid., II, 1185–87.

59 Ibid., II, 677.

60 Ibid., II, 679–82.

61 Ibid., II, 695–96.

62 Ibid., II, 763.

63 Ibid., II, 763–66.

64 KFCC V, 7.

66 Ibid., V, 8.

69 SSWY II, 707–9.

70 Ibid., II, 733–38.

71 Ibid., II, 738.

72 Ibid., II, 775–77.

73 Ibid., II, 777.

74 KFCC V, 8.

78 SSWY II, 687–89.

79 Ibid., II, 715–16.

80 Ibid., II, 761–62; 767.

81 KFCC V, 9.

82 Chung-hua min-kuo kʻai-kuo wu-shih nien wen-hsien [Literary Records on the Opening of the Republic of China Fifty Years Ago), I pien, 9 tsʻe, (Taipei, 1962), p. 446.

83 See Hsiang-hsiang, Wu, ed., Chung-shan wen-hsien [Literary Records on Sun Yat-sen], Vol. I, (Taipei, 1964) iv.; in which Wu raised a question as to the possibility that for one reason or another there may have been some ideological link between Cheng Kuan-ying and Sun Yat-sen.

84 Paul M. W. Linebarger, Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Republic, 11; 116.

87 For detailed accounts see Cheng Kuan-ying's recently discovered diary entitled Nan-yu jih-chi (Diary of the Trip to the South Sea Regions) in Wu Hsiang-hsiang, ed., Chung-shan wen-hsien Vol. VIII, 11–16; 19–21.

88 KFCC I, 73–74.

89 Ibid., I, 79–80.

90 Ibid., I, 142–43.

91 SSWY I, 161.

92 KFCC V, 2.

93 Ibid., V, 115–16; 117–18.

94 SSWY I, 87–89.

96 KFCC IV, 57.

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