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Sun Yat-sen

Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925), Chinese political leader, regarded as the “father of modern China.” Born in the Guangdong province, he spent most of his youth in Hawaii, where he learned about Western thought and politics. He then studied medicine in Hong Kong, becoming a doctor in 1892. In 1894 Sun founded a political group and attempted his first revolution against the Manchu dynasty. It failed and Sun left China in 1895. He traveled throughout Europe, the United States, and Japan, trying to gain support for his cause. In 1911, the Manchu dynasty was overthrown during a revolt, and Sun returned to China. He was elected temporary president and tried to unite China under a strong government. Some considered his ideas too extreme, however, and after 6 weeks he turned his presidency over to Yüan Shikai. Sun remained committed to his vision of a unified China. In 1923 he and his Kuomintang Party took control of China with assistance from the Soviet Union (Shihkai had become increasingly dictatorial). He died 2 years later. The Communists and the Kuomintang, who eventually dissolved their partnership, both claimed his legacy to be their inheritance. Three Principles of the People, his writings in which he summarized his political doctrines, inspired and guided subsequent developments in China.

See also: China.

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