"Ni Hao Ma? Hao Ma?" I ask the audience who have just been given a Chinese language lesson by Dan Hanson who is part of the ClevelandPeople.com.
"Ni Hao," back comes the reply from more than fifty-strong audience who have learned their Chinese language lesson well and who are attending another great Passport Event. This one is celebrating Chinese food and Culture at the fabulous Emperor's Palace Restaurant on the resurrected Rockwell Avenue in Cleveland's Asia Town.
"Tonight I am going to talk about one of my great heroes, Sun Yat Sen," I begin my Lincolnesque three-minute talk. "How many of you have heard of him?
About half the audience raise their hands. So I will have to be a little careful. If I give too much detail, this may overload some in the audience who may just tune out. If I don't present enough, then the smart half of the audience will be bored.
"In my talk," I continue, "I will touch upon a Cleveland connection for Sun Yat Sen as well as relate how his immigration experience to America may help us resolve the very tough immigration issues that concern today's America.
"I want to introduce eight aspects or points about this outstanding world leader.
"Why 'eight' you might ask?
"'Eight' is a very important number in Chinese traditions. There are magical and mystical features about the number 8 for the Chinese. This number has long been regarded as the luckiest number in Chinese culture. With its pronunciation as 'Ba' in Chinese, number 8 sounds similar to the word 'Fa', which means to make a fortune. This number also contains meanings of prosperity, success and high social status too.
"Do you remember the Chinese Olympics? These were in 2008. The eight made this event very auspicious for the Chinese who if I remember correctly won the overall medal count.
So POINT ONE: Sun Yat Sen is called the Father of the Nation. He is called this both by the Communists under Uncle Mao and by the Nationalists under Chiang Kai Shek. How did he come to be the hero of these two feuding factions? Let us look more at Sun Yat Sen's life.
POINT TWO: Sun Yat Sen was a revolutionary. In the 1800's China had suffered a whole series of setbacks from the Opium Wars to the Taiping Rebellion to the Sino-Japanese war to colonial powers eager to carve up this "backward" empire. There were two main trends of thought among Chinese on how to cope with verses for the Middle Kingdom. One group wanted to gradually modernize the Empire and use the emperor as the basis for reviving China. The other group wanted to get rid of the emperor completely and start all over.
Many of the latter were interested in establishing a republic or even a democracy. Sun Yat Sen belonged to the latter. From his youth he was in favor of getting rid of the Emperor and the old ways. In fact he even converted to Christianity as a sign of change and modernizing, after breaking some statutes in front of his home village temple.
POINT THREE: Sun Yat Sen educated as a doctor and received his degree from the prestigious university in Hong Kong. But he gave the promise of this very lucrative career in order to pursue his goal of helping the Chinese people. From 1895 until 1911 he participated in nine uprisings, all aimed at overthrowing the emperor system.
"By the way were these emperors really 'Chinese'?" (People in the audience murmur 'No's.'
"Right," I continue, "No, this was a Manchu dynasty from the Northeast. Some Chinese on that basis alone wanted to get rid of the dynasty. Of course, do you remember the movie, 'The Last Emperor?' Who was the last emperor?"
Somebody in my audience yells out, "A child named, Henry Puyi."
"That's right." I remark, 'but his is another story for another dinner. Let us return to Sun Yat Sen.
POINT FOUR Here is the Cleveland Connection. Sun Yat Sen was part of significant campaigns to raised money for the uprisings, especially in foreign countries such as England, Japan, Malaysia, Japan, and America. Uprisings are not free, they cost money. So Sun Yat Sen was conducting a fund raising tour in America which included a stop in Cleveland. While here he spoke at the Old Stone Church and at a one the main Chinese Cleveland restaurants called the 'Golden Dragon' just off Public Square.
As he continued on this national fund-raising tour, he received the news of the latest Uprising in China. On October 10, 2011, the revolution succeeded. This is called 'Double Ten'-it was the tenth day of the Tenth month-- and is celebrated worldwide as the Chinese
Hearing the good news, Sun Yat Sen left the tour and hurried back to China. He tried to schedule an airline on Cheapoair but his computer had crashed. So the boat trip took a while.
Anyway he arrived in China where he was greeted by hundreds of thousands. He was selected as the new President of China. He held this post from December 29, 1911 until March 10, 1912. It probably would have been better if he had continued as president, but here was a remarkable quality of this man.
The main general for the empire had been General Yuan Shi Kai. The revolutionaries wanted to get rid of the imperial group and they had promised Yuan Shi Kai that if he (and he was a strong man) that if he could convince the last emperor and his people to abdicate and the Manchu Dynasty to relinquish power, then he would become the President of the new China. Sun Yat Sen honored that pledge and so he resigned and Yuan Shi Kai took over.
But this would prove disastrous and the country descended into chaos with Yuan Shi Kai himself being overthrown when he tried to establish a new Dynasty with himself as the new Emperor.
POINT FIVE What should the revolutionists do as they saw their dreams being destroyed? China was even worse off than it had been under the Manchu rulers. Sun Yat Sen realized China needed help and so he looked around for outsiders who might help. Who do you think he chose? Judge Perk? (Judge Perk--who is in our audience--is a major leader in the Captive Nations and American Nationalities Movement which very much opposes Communism.)
Sun Yat Sen invited the Communists from Moscow and the International Communist movement to come to China and help the Chinese revolutionaries. Of course, Moscow was willing to come. Lenin himself praised Sun Yat Sen as a great leader.
Communists did come and they helped Sun Yat Sen establish the Whampoa Military Academy, equivalent to our West Point. Here were laid the foundations for a 250,000 man-army whose eventual mission was to march north from Sun Yat Sen's base in Canton, throw out the rapacious warlords, and establish a united government.
Who was the commandant of Whampoa and later became the leader of the Nationalists or Kuomintang? Chiang Kai Shek! The Northern Expedition did achieve some success and did establish something of a central government. Again this is another story. The point is that Sun Yat Sen invited in the outside Soviet advisers and for a while the Communists and the Nationalists were reluctant if mutually suspicious Allies.
POINT SIX: Sun Yat Sen was not just a great leader, revolutionary, and speaker. He also was a political thinker and philosopher. He had journeyed to many lands to observe their countries and governments. This included the United States, England, Japan, and Malaya and Singapore. From his travels, readings, his extensive experiences, and his many discussions with others, he had formulated his ideas on what should be the basis for a new China. He entitled this the Three Principles of the People.
The first was 'Min Zu.' 'Min' means 'people' and the Three Principles were termed 'San Min zhuyi.' 'San' is three, as in 'yi, er, san,' or 'One, Two, Three.'
Min Zu meant nationalism, for the people's sense of being Chinese. This dated back four thousand years and was a celebration of the people of China who had endured so much and accomplished so much.
The second principle was 'min quan' which meant the People's Democracy. China's government, according to Sun Yat Sen, was to be based on various democratic ideals with the people choosing their leaders. This new government would have various checks and balances. Our government has three. China's government would have five main departments.
The third principle was 'Min Sheng' which meant the People's livelihood. Sun had written that all people should be able to share in a country's prosperity. In fact, he was quite worried about the growing gap, even in relatively undeveloped China, between the very rich and the very poor.
Of course, there is much more to discuss about these Three People's Principles, but that will have to wait.
I do have one question about these three ideals. Sun did compare these to the words of an American president who also spoke about three principles related to the people.
Who was that president? What were his words?
"Was that Abraham: Lincoln," a young lady in the audience speaks out. "Was that referring to government of the people, by the people and for the people?
"Exactly," I grade her with an "A plus," and move toward the end of my short talk.
POINT SEVEN: Earlier I promised to explain Sun's connection with our immigration problems. Sun as a little boy had lived in Hawaii where he went to school when Hawaii was still independent. He had then gone back to China. A number of years later when he wanted to return to Hawaii, the way was barred by the fact that Hawaii was now part of the U.S. and the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented any Chinese from entering the U.S.
How did Sun get around this? Somehow he obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth. Now I know this may bring up another leader's birth but we will not go there. It is a simple point that there appear to be records that Sun Yat Sen was an American national. Using this birth certificate, he was able to return to Hawaii.
How does all this relate to today? We are all concerned now about the illegals or undocumented. Sun Yat Sen's case reveals the solution. We just issue all the undocumented 'Hawaiian Birth Certificates.' No more undocumented, no more illegals, no more problem.
POINT EIGHT We return to Cleveland once again. It is 2012. We see the revival of our China Town and rejoice in this new restaurant of the Emperor's Palace. The Vice-Mayor Han Ze Shang comes from the Chinese city of Zhongshan (which incorporates one name of Sun Yat Sen) all the way to this building to dedicate a special statute to Sun. She is here along with so many of our leaders like Margaret Wong and Jason Lin to pay their respect to this famous world leader.
And so let us here tonight remember and celebrate the life and achievements as well as the Cleveland connections of this hero Sun Yat Sen.
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