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This Week in History
December 28, 2014 - January 3, 2015

Dr. Sun Yat-sen Elected the First President of the Republic of China
December 29th, 1911

by Robert Wesser

Sun Yat-sen.

On December 29th, 1911, Chinese republican revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat-sen was elected the first Provisional President of the Government of the Republic of China by provincial representatives in Nanjing. In October of that year, Sun and his fellow revolutionaries had finally succeeded in their intensive 17-year, worldwide organizing drive to overthrow the Manchu Dynasty, and establish a Republic of China modeled on that of the United States.

A critical part of Sun's success was support coming from the highest echelons of the United States military establishment, who worked with him to establish a "Western Military Academy" in Los Angeles to train a Chinese officer corps for the Revolution. A total of 2100 Chinese officers were recruited and trained throughout the West Coast and Midwest U.S., and then smuggled back into China.

Abraham Lincoln and "The Three Principles of the People"

Born in 1866 in southern China, Sun Yat-sen was steeped in the Confucian classics and moved to Hawaii at the age of 13, where he was introduced to the ideas of Alexander Hamilton and the American System by American missionaries allied with the circles of Abraham Lincoln and Henry Carey.[1]

A 1942 U.S. postage stamp commemorating the American-Chinese alliance based on the ideas of Sun Yat-sen and Abraham Lincoln.

At the core of Dr. Sun's political philosophy was his elaborated doctrine of "The Three Principles of the People," explicitly inspired by Abraham Lincoln's conception of “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.[2]

Sun especially emphasized that his third principle, that of "Livelihood" (for the people), must be "...the center of government, the center of economics, the center of all historical movements...We must let the political, social, and economic movements of history gravitate around the problem of livelihood.”

Sun Yat-sen realized that a truly free and sovereign China were only possible when the vast majority of its people could be lifted out of poverty and backwardness. This could only be accomplished if the nation were unified around the national mission of increasing the “Livelihood” of the people, through the promotion of such “great projects” as national railway development, modernization of agriculture, national waterworks, universal education, etc. Reminiscent of Alexander Hamilton, Sun insisted that:

“First … [China must] begin to build means of communication, railroads and waterways, on a grand scale. Second, we must open up mines. China is rich in minerals but alas, they are buried in the earth! Third, we must hasten to foster manufacturing … we must quickly employ state power to promote industry, use machinery in production, and give employment to the workers of the whole nation.”

Sun Yat-sen's Eurasian Landbridge

Dr. Sun was convinced that the only basis for a modern Chinese republic (and for world peace generally) would be the revival of the best of China's Confucian “ancient learning,” combined with the highest achievements of Western European science, and that the foundation and mission of the modern Chinese nation must be the moral development of the individual.

"China has a specimen of political philosophy so systematic and so clear that nothing has been discovered or spoken by foreign statesmen to equal it. It is found in the [Confucian classic] 'Great Learning': 'Search into the nature of things, extend the boundaries of knowledge, make the purpose sincere, regulate the mind, cultivate personal virtue, rule the family, govern the state, pacify the world.' This calls upon a man to develop from within outward, to begin with his inner nature and not cease until the world is at peace..."

Accordingly, in 1919, Dr. Sun released his International Development of China proposal, calling on the nations of the world to collaborate in building a worldwide network of railroad transportation and development corridors, centered around the creation of a modern, industrial China: [3]

“...our projected railways will command the most dominating position of world importance. It will form a part of the trunk line of the Eurasian system which will connect the two populous centers, Europe and China, together. It will be the shortest line from the Pacific Coast to Europe. Its branch from Ili will connect with the future Indo-European line, and, through Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, will link up also with the future African system. Then there will be a through route from our projected port to Capetown. There is no existing railway commanding such a world important position as this...

“... The nations which will take part in this development will reap immense advantages. Furthermore, international cooperation of this kind cannot but help to strengthen the Brotherhood of Man.”

Sun Yat-sen's 1919 rail and port proposals to be connected up with a "Eurasian system which will connect the two populous centers, Europe and China, together."

Sun Yat-sen was well aware that a full adoption of this "landbridge" proposal in his International Development of China would permanently end the power of the Anglo-Dutch empire to play the "Great Game" of continually plunging the Eurasian continent into conflict and war by manipulating the various nations and powers of Eurasia against each other. Thus, he insisted that unless the world powers embrace his plan, another terrible world war would be inevitable. Not surprisingly, Sun came under fierce attack by the British and their allies, who were indeed able to sabotage any consideration of his proposals, instead plunging the world into the Second World War, exactly as Sun had forecast.

Today: Sun Yat-sen Comes Alive

The modern version of Dr. Sun's proposal was updated over two decades ago by Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche and her husband, economist Lyndon LaRouche, and their collaborators. Mrs. Zepp-LaRouche's relentless two-decade long worldwide campaign for the Eurasian Landbridge, and now World Landbridge plan has earned her the title of "the Silk Road Lady" in China and throughout Eurasia.

And now, over 100 years after the 1911 election of Sun Yat-sen as first President of the Republic of China, the current Chinese leadership has brought his ideas fully back to life. Former Chinese President Hu Jintao was an avid student of the ideas of Dr. Sun, and personally chaired a conference on the importance of those ideas for China today. Current Chinese President Xi Jinping has now gone one step further, launching an intensive campaign to revive the study of the great Confucian classics inside China.

Most of all, however, is the current Chinese government's full embrace of Sun Yat-sen's idea of the Eurasian Landbridge, "The New Silk Road," and its various rail and infrastructure projects. Indeed, many of the projects being carried out by China today were outlined by Sun in 1919.

Americans today would be wise to heed the words of Dr. Sun Yat-sen in his 1912 “To the Friends of China in the United States:"

“We understand too well that there are certain men of power --not to include for the present certain nations --who would view with a greater or lesser satisfaction an internal rupture in the new [Chinese] Republic. They would welcome as a move toward the accomplishment of their own ends and designs a civil war between the provinces of the north and the south; just as, fifty years ago, there was applause in secret (in certain quarters) over the terrible civil strife in the United States...

“Americans of today who were alive in those dark days of the great republic will remember the feelings in the hearts of the people--the bitter and painful thoughts that arose from the knowledge that foreigners were hoping and praying for the destruction of the American Union.

“And I feel that we have just such enemies abroad as the American republic had; and that at certain capitals the most welcome announcement that could be made would be that of a rebellion in China against the constituted authorities..."


[1]. See "Sun Yat-sen’s Legacy and The American Revolution," EIR, October 28, 2011.

[2]. An English translation of the full text of Sun's "The Three Principles of the People" is available at:

[3]. An animated video of Sun's International Development of China projects, as well as a link to the English translation full text is available at: