Sun Yat-sen shipped back to China and executed, 1896

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Sun Yat-sen shipped back to China and executed, 1896 David Tenner 5/12/10 8:50 PM
In 1896, Sun Yat-sen visited England, invited by his old friend, the
missionary and doctor James Cantlie.  After having been in London for ten
days, Sun somehow--and just how this came about is, as we shall see,
disputed--found himself held at the Chinese Legation, cut off from
communication with the outside world, and in grave danger of being shipped
back to China and executed for his involvement in an abortive 1895 anti-
Manchu uprising.   For Sun's own account, see his *Kidnapped in London* at
http://books.google.com/books?id=6VQuAAAAYAAJ Here is the summary in
Audrey Wells, *The Political Thought of Sun Yat-sen:  Development and
Impact* (2001), pp. 10-11:

"Sun Yat-sen reached London on 1 October 1896. He spent his first few days
visiting the British Museum and other tourist attractions. The Chinese
Legation, alerted to his presence by Chinese diplomats in the USA where
Sun had spent three months fund-raising before coming to England, employed
Slater's Detective Agency to follow him as he posed a threat to the Manchu
dynasty.

"Sun would often visit his friends, the Cantlies, who lived in Devonshire
Street, near Portland Place where the Chinese Legation was situated. On
11 October 1896, as he was passing it on his way to visit Dr. James
Cantlie, some Chinese officials kidnapped him. Accounts of how this took
place vary, but it is clear that they forced him into a locked, guarded
room on the third floor of the Chinese Legation. Its Secretary was,
surprisingly, a Scottish military surgeon, Sir Halliday Macartney, who had
fought against the Taipings. When Sun had arrived in London, Macartney had
tried in vain to get the British Foreign Office to agree to Sun's being
extradited to China. Now that Macartney held Sun captive he informed
the Manchu government of his prize prisoner and awaited instructions.

"As the week passed, Sun records in his book *Kidnapped in London* that
only prayer gave him solace. He faced the prospect of being shipped
back to China where he would be executed by having his eyelids cut off
and then his body chopped into small fragments.

"On 16 October 1896, Sun Yat-sen arose from praying in his guarded room at
the Legation. He later wrote that he felt a calmness and hope that made
him realise that his prayer was answered. He renewed his attempts to
persuade an English porter, Cole, who brought his food, to take a message
to his friend Dr Cantlie, and this time the porter agreed to do so. On
receiving the news Dr Cantlie informed Scotland Yard and the Foreign
Office, which took no relevant action. He then alerted *The Times* which
waited to see what the Foreign Office would do. Aware of this, the Foreign
Office began to pressure Macartney, warning that *The Times* was holding
the story. Cantlie finally applied to an Old Bailey judge for a writ of
'habeas corpus' against the Legation. The newspaper *The Globe* heard of
this and broke the news of Sun's kidnapping on 22 October 1896. The next
day all the London newspapers published the story. Soon angry Londoners
and journalists surrounded the Chinese Legation clamouring for Sun's
release. In the afternoon of 23 October Sun was freed. The following day
he wrote a letter to *The Times* thanking its readers for their support,
public spiritedness and love of justice.

"Sun's kidnapping made him famous and later facilitated his fund-raising
activities around the world..."

There are some mysteries surrounding this incident, as Marie-Claire
Bergere notes in her *Sun Yat-sen,* (Stanford UP 1998), pp. 62-3:

(1) Just how did Sun come to be imprisoned in the Legation?  "The incident
gave rise to the most contradictory explanations and indeed continues to
do so.  According to Sun Yat-sen's testimony, given immediately after he
was freed, he was abducted, or rather lured by a ruse to the entrance of
the Legation, which he had not identified, and was bundled inside in the
course of a scuffle, then overcome inside the building.  According to the
Chinese diplomats, Sun Yat-sen went of his own free will to the Legation,
in quest of information.  Alerted by his questions, the legation staff
apprehended him on his second visit.  A third, later version also exists,
based upon oral statements made by Sun Yat-sen's companions, according to
whom Sun Yat-sen had told them that he had indeed gone willingly and with
his eyes wide open to the Legation, out of defiance and revolutionary
ardor, and had only invented the story of the kidnapping to make the
legation's attitude more reprehensible.

"Each of these versions has its supporters, and each incorporates a number
of considerable improbabilities:  how could Sun Yat-sen not have
recognized the Chinese Legation, which was close to the Cantlies' home and
past which he had walked on several occasions before the Cantlies strongly
recommended that he should give it a wide berth?  It is inconceivable that
Sun Yat-sen, on the run from imperial spies for several months past and
with a price on his head, would have risked entering the lions' den.  Such
a concept of patriotic fervor would have been of a naivete bordering on
plain stupidity.  More might have been known had the private detectives
hired to shadow him done their job properly.  But whether as a result of
the inclement weather or quite simply human error, Sun's guardian angels
had lost his trail on that fateful Sunday..."

(2) Just how did Sun finally get George Cole, the Legation's steward, to
help him? (For a week Cole had declined to pass Sun's messages on to Dr.
Cantlie and instead brought them to Macartney.)  Cole was later to say
that Sun won him over by appealing to class solidarity and declaring
himself to be the leader of a Chinese socialist party.  Sun, OTOH,
"subsequently claimed that it was to the Christians of Armenia then being
persecuted by the Turks that he compared himself, to arouse Cole's
compassion; in Victorian England, Christian pity probably was more highly
prized than proletarian sympathy, and Sun was concerned to win the
compassion and sympathy of the public.  Perhaps the decisive argument lay
in the twenty pounds sterling that Sun Yat-sen handed over to Cole, with
the promise of a further thousand to follow..."  Bergere, p. 63.

Anyway, let's say that neither proletarian class solidarity nor Christian
compassion nor even money (after all, presumably Macartney and the
Imperial government could have outbid Sun) moves Cole, and Sun is indeed
sent back to China and executed.  Consequences?  Is there still a
Revolution of 1911?

Here one should note that Sun had no *direct* role in the 1911 Revolution:

"The man whom historians consider the founding father of the Chinese
nation and whose name more than any other they associate with the
revolution of 1911 and the establishment of the Republic in fact played no
direct part in the chain of events that, leading from the Wuchang
insurrection of October 10, 1911, to the imperial edict of abdication of
February 12, 1912, brought about the collapse of the Manchu empire.  After
heading or inspiring a whole series of antidynastic uprisings, Sun Yat-sen
missed his rendezvous with history and it was only from afar, *in
absentia,* that he took part in the downfall of the imperial regime."  
Bergere, p. 198.  The Wuchang insurrrection "was the work of groups of
local revolutionaries who had recruited men from the New Army and also
enjoyed support from the secret societies and urban elites.  The links
between these local organizations and the movement led by Sun Yat-sen and
the Tokyo group were extremely tenuous..." p. 201.  But there is still the
question of whether the revolution would have taken place, at least when
it did, if not for the prior unsuccessful attempts at insurrection by Sun
and his followers.  Sun, the movement he led, and the anti-Manchu
propaganda the movement disseminated were by this time known even by many
anti-Manchu elements who had no direct ties with him or his movement.

And even if there would have been a revolution without Sun, it might have
been a different kind.  Sun later remarked that of his Three Principles of
the People--Nationalism, Democracy and the People's Livelihood--many of
his original followers really cared only about the first, and to them it
simply meant ousting the "foreign" Manchu dynasty.  Some of them, Sun
remarked, would have been satisfied with a monarchy if only it was a
*Chinese* monarchy.    

Also, through the principle of the People's Livelihood, Sun introduced a
"social" (though not necessarily socialist, at least in the Marxist sense)
component into Chinese revolutionary thought.  This component was
neglected by many of the revolutionaries--who after all were dependent on
the support of merchants and other upper-class elements--but was to bear
fruit in the Kuomintang-CCP United Front of the 1920's which Sun
initiated.  Indeed, without this United Front, relatively short-lived as
it was, I am not certain that China would ever have become Communist; the
CCP had only a few hundred members when Sun (despite his non-Marxism)
invited its members to join the KMT.  But the benefits of the United Front
were not one-sidedly in the Communists' favor; the KMT's success in
uniting most of China  by the late 1920's would probably have been
impossible if not for the United Front and the alliance with the USSR,
which had provided military and organizational aid when the KMT was weak.  
If Sun Yat-sen had died in 1896--or for that matter 1920--China might have
been divided into warlord domains indefinitely and even more vulnerable to
Japan than it was in OTL.  

--
David Tenner
dte...@ameritech.net

Re: Sun Yat-sen shipped back to China and executed, 1896 Tzintzuntzan 5/13/10 11:18 AM
On May 12, 8:50 pm, David Tenner <dten...@ameritech.net> wrote:

(snip good background)

> Anyway, let's say that neither proletarian class solidarity nor Christian
> compassion nor even money (after all, presumably Macartney and the
> Imperial government could have outbid Sun) moves Cole, and Sun is indeed
> sent back to China and executed.  Consequences?  Is there still a
> Revolution of 1911?
>
> Here one should note that Sun had no *direct* role in the 1911 Revolution:
>
> "The man whom historians consider the founding father of the Chinese
> nation and whose name more than any other they associate with the
> revolution of 1911 and the establishment of the Republic in fact played no
> direct part in the chain of events that, leading from the Wuchang
> insurrection of October 10, 1911, to the imperial edict of abdication of
> February 12, 1912, brought about the collapse of the Manchu empire.  After
> heading or inspiring a whole series of antidynastic uprisings, Sun Yat-sen
> missed his rendezvous with history and it was only from afar, *in
> absentia,* that he took part in the downfall of the imperial regime."  
> Bergere, p. 198.  The Wuchang insurrrection "was the work of groups of
> local revolutionaries who had recruited men from the New Army and also
> enjoyed support from the secret societies and urban elites.  The links
> between these local organizations and the movement led by Sun Yat-sen and
> the Tokyo group were extremely tenuous..." p. 201.  

The 1911 revolution was a near-run thing; if the imperial forces
hadn't dithered too long, and if Yuan Shikai didn't have a
grudge against the crown, the Qing could have won, just
like they did the previous times a Republican revolt broke
out. But at the same time, IMHO the Qing lasting as long
as they did was also a near-run thing; any of the earlier
revolts could have snowballed and taken out the capital
if the Qing had botched it. The dynasty at this point
couldn't afford to screw up, and their luck would run
out eventually.

Although, not necessarily to a Republican movement
like Sun's.

But there is still the
> question of whether the revolution would have taken place, at least when
> it did, if not for the prior unsuccessful attempts at insurrection by Sun
> and his followers.  Sun, the movement he led, and the anti-Manchu
> propaganda the movement disseminated were by this time known even by many
> anti-Manchu elements who had no direct ties with him or his movement.

There was definitely a whole group of professional revolutionaries
waiting for the moment, and that was due to Sun organizing them.
The question is, if he's executed, does the movement just find
another leader who organizes them? A Republican movement
seems obvious in this time period for China, simply because
imperial government seemed to have failed. It's like what if
Lenin had been executed young; while he had a lot to do
with Bolshevik success, Russia had a lot of rival underground
groups.

I have no idea what the revolutionary movement looks like
without Sun, and whether it can get legs. Either way,
butterflies mean the Qing go down a different time. And
I do think they're going down...if any dynasty ever lost
the Mandate of Heaven, the Qing circa 1895 are it.
Neither traditionalists or radicals have any use for
the dynasty any more -- only strict Qing loyalists.

The main alternatives seem to be a Sun-less
revolutionary group, or a new dynasty.

> And even if there would have been a revolution without Sun, it might have
> been a different kind.  Sun later remarked that of his Three Principles of
> the People--Nationalism, Democracy and the People's Livelihood--many of
> his original followers really cared only about the first, and to them it
> simply meant ousting the "foreign" Manchu dynasty.  Some of them, Sun
> remarked, would have been satisfied with a monarchy if only it was a
> *Chinese* monarchy.    

Agreed. The main reason not to have a monarchy is that
a lot of people blamed not the Qing, but the entire imperial
system, for China's problems, but I don't know if that was
enough to guarantee revolutionary success.

>
> Also, through the principle of the People's Livelihood, Sun introduced a
> "social" (though not necessarily socialist, at least in the Marxist sense)
> component into Chinese revolutionary thought.  This component was
> neglected by many of the revolutionaries--who after all were dependent on
> the support of merchants and other upper-class elements--but was to bear
> fruit in the Kuomintang-CCP United Front of the 1920's which Sun
> initiated.  Indeed, without this United Front, relatively short-lived as
> it was, I am not certain that China would ever have become Communist; the
> CCP had only a few hundred members when Sun (despite his non-Marxism)
> invited its members to join the KMT.  

How much would the USSR support the CCP if there was no
United Front? Or the KMT, for that matter. Before Tito's
rebellion, Stalin generally supported all "nationalists," on the
grounds that they hated the imperial powers. So he might
decide the CCP are losers and he's helping the KMT anyway.
After all, from his perspective, the KMT will be useful clients
even if non-Communists, weak enough to subvert, and
definitely will never be strong enough to threaten the USSR.
(Nobody said Stalin was a prophet...)

But the benefits of the United Front
> were not one-sidedly in the Communists' favor; the KMT's success in
> uniting most of China  by the late 1920's would probably have been
> impossible if not for the United Front and the alliance with the USSR,
> which had provided military and organizational aid when the KMT was weak.  

See above; would Stalin help them anyway?


> If Sun Yat-sen had died in 1896--or for that matter 1920--China might have
> been divided into warlord domains indefinitely

I wonder if it would be possible for the warlords to stabilize into a
semi-
permanent balance of power, like some of China's earlier, divided
periods.
Probably due to Japan and the USSR propping up their clients.

Of course, as it was, China kind of _was_ divided into warlord
domains indefinitely; the KMT got rid of a lot of warlords by
buying them off, and Chiang had to spent the rest of his life
(even the hottest years of war with Mao) watching his flank
so they didn't come back.

and even more vulnerable to
> Japan than it was in OTL.

According to Doug Muir in a previous post (which I can't
remember the title of, unfortunately), a disunited China
might be less vulnerable. Most of the Japanese government
had no desire to actually conquer China directly; too
expensive and annoying. As long as China was weak
and divided, Japan can do business with it.

It was only when the KMT showed signs of actually
unifying the country that Tokyo panicked and
began to move against them.

Re: Sun Yat-sen shipped back to China and executed, 1896 David Tenner 5/17/10 10:34 AM
Tzintzuntzan <moshp...@yahoo.com> wrote in
news:3044f3e6-ffdd-4189-92da-217bfef63d8e@e2g2000yqn.googlegroups.com :


> On May 12, 8:50�pm, David Tenner <dten...@ameritech.net> wrote:

>> If Sun Yat-sen had died in 1896--or for that matter 1920--China might
>> have been divided into warlord domains indefinitely
>
> I wonder if it would be possible for the warlords to stabilize into a
> semi-
> permanent balance of power, like some of China's earlier, divided
> periods.
> Probably due to Japan and the USSR propping up their clients.
>
> Of course, as it was, China kind of _was_ divided into warlord
> domains indefinitely; the KMT got rid of a lot of warlords by
> buying them off, and Chiang had to spent the rest of his life
> (even the hottest years of war with Mao) watching his flank
> so they didn't come back.

>
>> and even more vulnerable to
>> Japan than it was in OTL.
>
> According to Doug Muir in a previous post (which I can't
> remember the title of, unfortunately), a disunited China
> might be less vulnerable. Most of the Japanese government
> had no desire to actually conquer China directly; too
> expensive and annoying. As long as China was weak
> and divided, Japan can do business with it.
>
> It was only when the KMT showed signs of actually
> unifying the country that Tokyo panicked and
> began to move against them.
>

I don't think that actually contradicts what I wrote.  China would be "more
vulnerable" to Japan if the latter could get economic and political dominance
there without even risking its own troops...

--
David Tenner
dte...@ameritech.net

unk...@googlegroups.com 5/19/10 3:24 AM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Sun Yat-sen shipped back to China and executed, 1896 eatfastnoodle 5/19/10 10:17 AM
Sun didn't play much role in the revolution, back then, the dynasty
was still standing mainly because most people
didn't bother to push it off the cliff. As clearly indicated by later
episodes, the imperial ruling class
had neither the control of the military nor real loyalty of vast
majority of the government.
That's why what essentially an small scale revolt ended up collapsing
the whole dynasty: the
dynasty itself had long been hollowed out, group of governors openly
defied the imperial order
merely a decade ago, which spoke volume of the real authority the
central government had on the
ground. Sun was later chosen to be the public face of the revolution
because he had been promoting
revolution for a long time and quite famous. He was not much more than
a public spokesman,
he controlled no one of significance at that time, that's why he had
to cede the presidency later.
I don't think his death would change much on the ground, there were
plenty of others to replace
him and the revolution didn't have much to do with him in the first
place anyway.