The 1911 Revolution and The Making of Modern Chinese Politics
China Today declared itself a republic. From 1912 onward, notwithstanding political turmoil, assassinations, factionalism, civil wars, invasions, and revolutions, the policy of China has remained, at least in name, republican. Election of the head of state has always been nominally by the people, and the basis of state sovereignty always the popular will of the nation. However, despite the fact that eleven central government constitutions and constitutional drafts were written between 1908 and 1982, China has never attained to constitutionalism. In this talk, Dr. Zheng argues that the 1911 Revolution was a political trasformation wrought by a vanguard of new ideas. During the revolutionary process, a new, democratic political culture was created, establishing popular sovereignty and republicanism as indisputable political principles. At the same time, the concepts of “seperation of powers” and “limited government”- the tenets of Western constitutionalism- were never implemented in any serious fashion; impassioned public opinion rather than careful institutional design became the main mechanism for realizing political change.