Shenzhen Museum #3 – Modern Shenzhen 现代深圳 (1839 – 1949)

Revolution against the Qing (1900-1912)

The failure to protect the borders against Western invaders made a lot of the Han Chinese rethink about rule under the foreign Manchurian emperors. In 1895, China was decisively defeated by Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895), in which Korea, a vassal state of Qing Dynasty, was ceded to the Japanese. Chinese can no longer depend on these rulers to protect their interests.

Huizhou Uprising 惠州起义 (Oct 1900)

After First Opium War, China was forced to open her door to Western ideas and cultures. Western democratic and communist ideologies had great impact to the Chinese bourgeoisie. In Nov 1894, Dr Sun Yat-Sen founded the Xing Zhong Hui “Revive China Society” 兴中会 (the predecessor to Tongmenghui “China United League” 同盟会) in Honolulu. And the triads of the Shenzhen area joined them in the revolutionary fight against the Qing government.

Secret societies involvement in anti-Qing activities

Under British rule in Hong Kong, all Chinese secret societies were collectively seen as criminal threats and were bundled together and defined as “Triads”. In Shenzhen, there were several uprising organised by the secret societies that took over the walled cities like Dapeng Garrison City 大鹏所城 and Kowloon Walled City 九龙城寨.

Uprising at Sanzhoutian

In Oct 1900, the first shot of revolution was fired in the Huizhou Uprising 惠州起义 initiated by Dr Sun. Huizhou is modern day Shenzhen Yantian District Shatoujiao Sanzhoutian Village 深圳市盐田区沙头角三洲田村.

Battle at Lanhua Temple

Battle of Lanhua Temple 兰花庙 was the first battle of the Huizhou Uprising. On the early morning of 6 Oct 1900, Huang Fu 黄福 and his revolutionaries attacked the Qing garrison stationed at Lanhua Temple, Shawan, capturing and killing over 70 Qing soldiers. This first victory emboldened them to continue with the campaign, but it all came to nought on 21 Oct 1900, when the Japanese whom promised to supply them arms pulled out of the conflict, and the Commander for the operations Zheng Shiliang 郑士良 had to disband the group.

Uprising in Sanzhoutian known as Guizhou Uprising

The uprising was not successful, because it was poorly organised by a bunch of amateurs. But it encouraged the rest of China to group and plan for uprising.

Road to Republic 走向共和

Intellectuals in China were divided into several factions. Constitutional monarchist reformers led by Kang Youwei 康有为 and Liang Qichao 梁启超 took control initially, and orchestrated the Hundred Days’ Reform 百日维新 (11 Jun-22 Sep 1898) in the Qing government. The reforms failed due to the Wuxu Coup 戊戌政变 by Empress Dowager Cixi.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen together with the members of the Singapore Branch of Tongmen Hui, (front row from left) Lin Ganting, Zhang Yongfu, Chen Chunan, Sun Yat-sen, You Lie, Liou Jinsheng, Lin Yishun; (back row from left) Wu Wusou, Zhang Huadan, Zhang Ji, Chen Ruhe, Deng Ziyu, Huang Yaoting, Zhang Binggeng. Sun Yat-sen is the father of China and died in 1925, therefore the photo must be in public domain.

Disillusioned with the monarchy and the Qing government, many revolutionary groups began emerging across the country. In 1905, revolutionary leaders such as Sun Yat-sen and Song Jiaoren met in Tokyo to discuss a merger between different revolutionary groups. A new group known as Tongmenghui was formed after this meeting.

The Wuchang Uprising 武昌起义 was an armed rebellion against the ruling Qing dynasty that took place in Wuchang (now part of Wuhan, Hubei) on 10 October 1911, beginning the Xinhai Revolution 辛亥革命 that successfully overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty. The Wuchang Uprising took many revolutionary leaders by surprise; Huang Xing and Song Jiaoren were unable to reach Wuchang in time. Sun Yat-sen was traveling in the United States speaking to overseas Chinese to appeal for financial support when the uprising took place. 

1911 Revolution Plaza. Sculpture of Tsun Yee Sen, the National Father of modern China.

Although Sun received a telegram from Huang Xing, he was unable to decipher it, and found out about the uprising the next morning in the newspaper. After the successful uprising in Wuchang, the revolutionaries sent telegraphs to other provinces and asked them to follow their suit, upon which eighteen provinces in Southern and Central China agreed to secede from the Qing government by the end of December, 1911.

Election of Provisional President of Republic of China, 19 December 1911

In the same month, Sun returned to China to participate in the provisional presidential election and was elected. Representatives from the seceding provinces met on 1 January 1912, and declared the founding of the Republic of China as Sun was sworn in as the first president. The new republic then negotiated with Yuan Shikai to pressure the Qing government to surrender, offering the presidency in the process.

On 12 February 1912, Empress Dowager Longyu, on behalf of Aisin Gioro Puyi, the Xuantong emperor which became known as the Last Emperor, announced the abdication of the Qing throne, marking the end of the dynasty.

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