Home >> Lingnan Voices

Dr Sun's 150th Birthday

Updated: 2016-11-05 Source:Radio Guangdong's English Service Author:intern
Dr Sun's 150th  Birthday
November 2016 is the 150th Anniversary of the Dr. Sun Yatsen's birthday.

It's been nearly a century since he passed away in 1925, overseas Chinese communities are marking the 150th birthday. Educated in the US Dr. Sun as a young man converted to Christianity and ready extensive manuscripts of historic US speeches such as Lincoln's Gettysberg address, sampling the line ‘of the people, by the people and for the people, this manifested into the 3 People's Principals. Most famous for organizing the overthrow of the Qing Dynsaty in 1911, this program will focus more on the last few years of his life that he spent in Guangzhou, and also how his legacy is remembered around the world.


Dr. Sun on a US Postage Stamp
 
For most people Dr. Sun's legacy is remembered in the years that led up to the Chinese revolution where he harnessed support from overseas Chinese communities to overthrow the Qing Dynasty in 1911, although the years that followed were not so smooth. After regaining
political power from Yuan Shikai, Sun Yatsen moved to the southern city of Guangzhou, and chose to site of dingy beat up old cement factory for his home.
He hired local architect architects and engineers Arthur Purnell and Charles Paget to renovate the old cement factory transforming it into China's first presidential mansion. The reasons that an industrial space was chosen for such a prominent building are explained by professor…
Of the University of Melborne professor Dr. Derham Groves explains,
So essentially it's the first president's palace in China. And the reason for this is obvious when you see a picture. It was right next to the pearl river. And in those days really the only people supporting Sun Yatsen in terms of an official capacity was the Navy. So clearly if something went wrong this building was close enough to the river that Sun Yatsen could escape. Easily. The building still exists. It is not a museum for Sun Yatsen. It is a major building.
George:
While living in the mansion Sun spent the last decade of his life operating a newspaper and corresponding with his two most trusted alleys, Liao Zhangkai and Zhang Jieshi, who's images are now in was figures at the Da Yuan Shuaifu, also known as the Generialismo Mansion. I follow a group of students through a tour of the building.
For additional safety Dr Sun also hired a personal bodyguard and advisor to the military from Canada named Morris Cohen, also known as Morris 2 Gun Cohen, who would stay loyal to the family long after Sun's death in 1925. Laslow Montgomery of China History Podcast Explains,


 
With the death of his first benefactor Sun Yatsen, Morris Cohen stayed loyal to the Soong family, particularly Soong Qingling, her older sister Soong Ailing and her husband H.H. Kong, who at the time was the richest man in China. As a westerner Morris had a variety of uses and he did the Soong's bidding whenever they needed him. With his meal ticket gone, Morris had to get on someone's payroll fast or else he would either be slumming it or going back to Canada.  (37-1:27)

 
Photo of the Soong Sisters, Mayling, Ailing and Qingling.

George
Dr. Sun's legacy is still celebrated by the overseas Chinese community around the world. In the US city of San Francisco we interviewed Xie Xiansheng, who grew up in Guangzhou and after Lingnan University became known as Sun Yatsen Univeristy became one of the first student admitted after the cultural revolution.
Xie Xiansheng
I was was among the first newly admitted students at Sun Yatsen University, a year after the Cultural Revolution ended in 1977. As a student Dr. Sun's quotes relating to discipline and hope for the future were used as the school's motto. Those ideas really stayed with me in my professional life. After living in the US and staying active with the local Chinese, Dr. Sun's manuscripts and teaching remain just as relevant for our community today.
Today Dr. Sun's mansion is a public museum which is open at no cost. I followed a group of students on a tour.
(Sounds of the museum tour)

When I spoke with Xiu Qiu, the museum director I asked her why China's first president chose this location for his mansion during the last decade of his life.
George:
Why did Dr. Sun choose location for his home in Guangzhou?

Xiao Qiu
After the Xinghai Revolution and then regaining power from Yuan Shikai there were not many secure places to rebuild leadership. In 1917 he found in defense of the new constitution, Guangzhou was a suitable place to have a central headquarters and mediate between different warlords, and south of the Pearl River was fairly undeveloped. This factory at the time was quite modern.