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    May Fourth Movement and 1911 Revolution Essay

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    Yunfang YANG S2774352 Pac 10 China in Transformation 1900-1949 Note: special consideration granted for 1-week extension. Number: 14998. Question: “In political, culture and social terms the May fourth movement was far more important than the 1911 revolution”. Discuss. China made its modernisation through revolutions. There are two historical event scholars believes can be threat as milestone of the transformation: 1911 Xinhai revolution, which brings an end to the two thousand year of monarchy; May fourth movement which carried out by students in Beijing protesting against the unfair treatment China get on the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

    The word revolution means ‘the fundamental change of power’, where the word movement is ‘a group action asking improvements to be made’. In term of political, cultural and social terms, May fourth movement has a much significant influence than the Xinhai revolution. In fact, Xinhai revolution does not achieve any political improvement of the government. Culturally, there is giant step forward after the 1911 revolution. Lastly from the society point of view, life is only getting worse.

    Historians believe Xinhai revolution is about Dr Sun Yat-sen’s personal optimism and penchant in politics (Eto & Schiffrin, 1994). Fourth May Movement is a step to the modernisation in political, cultural and social terms. The expulsion of Manchus does more political damage then the Fourth May Movement. The term politics define as the process by which groups of people make collective decisions (Kymlicka, 2002). Scholars in the present date are still debating whether the revolution to bring China to a republic country is a good idea (Kapp, 1973).

    At 1900s, China has a population of 400 million; people are influenced by the monarchy for two thousand years. The country itself had only opened to foreigners for fifty years; the revolution in 1900 shows the majority of population rejects western ideas. Many warlords have take advantage of people’s unawareness for person gain. At the point of view of the government, after the revolution, the centralised Beiyang government is only able to govern a few provenances. The rest are controlled by local political powers having their own armies and beyond the central government’s control.

    The second problem with the 1911 revolution is, even inside the Chinese United Leagues, leaders have no idea of which form of government to use after the revolution becomes a success (Kent, 1999). The original agenda with the Chinese United league is to expulsion the Manchus first then discuss which governing system to use. Even when the 1911 revolution has come to an success inside the Chinese United League itself are still debating which form of government to use,presidential system, cabinet system.

    When Dr Sun is the president, Presidential system is used, but when Yuan Shikai become the president cabinet system is used in order to reduce his political influence. This not only shows the revolutionists fail to trust Yuan Shikai, also the formation of government is not based on good political will. The political climate at 1911 is full of darkness and violence (Chang, 1987). Different political power are trying all they can to grab all the power. Secrete executions are carried out to the people with different political views.

    For example, Zhang Zhenwu is executed by Yuan Shikai’s order to damage the political appearance of his Vice president Li Yuanhong who is also the main opposition to his rule. Moreover, Song Jiaoren’s assassination in 1913, after Guomin party wins majority seat in the parliament. Ultimately, the 1911 revolution was not a success. Take into account that Yuan Shikai in 1915 re-establish monarchy and crowns himself the Emperor. Many scholars believe Politically, Xinhai revolution is more of Dr Sun’s optimism but improve China’s political climate.

    In comparison to the Fourth May revolution, the results are completely different. On 4th May 1919, some 3000 students confounded the police by assembling at the Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and taking to the streets, the demonstration was well organized, corpear to the 1911 Revolution (Schwarcz, 1986). Under the pressure of Fourth May movement, during the 1921 Washington conference, an agreement is made between China and Japan, requires Japan to return all the previous Germany leased territory, return the custom authority in Qindao to China and many railways (Frederick, 1999).

    Fourth May movement also puts pressure on the cabinet, which leads to the resignation of all cabinet members. This movement shows the would that the Chinese people also have the ability to choose who to lead the country. Different from seven years ago the Xinhai revolution, unions have excised their power in democracy. Apart from foreign policy, during the movement, unions are formed in major cities. Students, factories workers and many middle and low class people, demonstrate their ability to influence the government, and express their opinions. Fourth May movement helps spread communism.

    It is ambiguous to say whether this is good or bad. However the communism party; who is ruling china right now; can never come this far; if it was for the movement. Consider the culture climate in China; May fourth movement is a breaking point. In this context, culture defines as the ‘set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group’ (Mackerras, 1993). The 1911 revolution restores the Chinese rule, but Dr Sun failed to establish a republic country. At the time, the majority of population has no idea what is republic.

    A large percentage of population still believes in Dong Zhongshu’s Confucianism, which suggests the emperor at the top of the pyramid, emperor and his family ruling are assumed to be indefinite, any channelling to the power will mean an execution (Koller, 1985). At the time, people are not aware of such idea as republic, president or even parliament. Those are the product of western world’s civilization modernise. For great number of Chinese, at 1911, revolution only means to the end of Manchu’s ruling, but Monarchy still seems to be the only form of government.

    Thus the only way to value whether the Xinhai revolution is successful is to measure whether the people understand the idea of being republic, free speech and political awareness. To bad for Dr sun is the People have very limited political awareness and their rights (Liew, 1971). What the majority of people believe Dr Sun is the new King. In the other hand, after the May Fourth movement, many ideas from the western world are imported into China, and one of the examples is communism (Schurmann, 1968). At the time, the general public finally understands many developed new ideas.

    The movement itself shows the strong political awareness of the students and youth at the time. They are able to excise their right to protest legislations that is against their will. New culture movement leader Chen Duxiu publishes an article during the movement, expressing his idea that China will only be saved by science and democracy (Feigon, 1983). The idea of science and democracy its self are modern ideas. From the appearance of those idea shows the development of culture. Even from the present China, we can see May shadows of the Fourth May Movement from the literacy policy and ideas in the present day.

    After the movement, many literature communities are formed within the student union. Inside those communities, many of the members ended up being master in literature, offers giant contribution to the modern Chinese civilization, for example: Guo Moruo (Seybolt & Chiang, 1979). At the viewpoint of the social, Xinhai revolution results instability of the society. The term social refer to ‘the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interation is voluntary or involuntary’.

    One of the basic points for the Chinese United League is to ‘equalization of land rights’. During the 1911 Xinhai revolution, which particular promises to the people had never be carried out (Mackerras, 1993). The people pushing the revolution for many provenances are military, landlords and government heads in during the Qing period (Pye, 1971). Thus Xinhai revolution did solve the fundamental question low-class families facing. But removes the centralised government, letting the country into authority vacuum (Eastman, 1990).

    As previous discussed people are not aware their duty in this new society, right after the revolution, the society becomes a battleground for power and political influence. Many main problems such as the foreign economic invasion were not solved after the revolution. Nathaniel Petter form Columbia University believe it is a fail to bring the idea of republic into china without consider any Chinese history, value system, believes and many other important social aspect. Differ form the Xinhai Revolution, May fourth being significant change to the society.

    Early feminist in China who fights for equal right has exceeded their goal with the push from Fourth May Movement (Hong & Mangan, 1995). Modern day feminist idea is explored right after (Fan, 1997). Universities, such as the Beijing University and Linnan University start to intake female student. That is a step forward for the movement of equal gender rights, which we now consider to be modern idea. The movement itself also shows improvement on general public’s awareness of politics.

    Since difference social groups are able to stand beside each other to achieve common goal, conflict inside the society got smoothened at some level. Successes of May Fourth majority of people who are involved in this wave of revolution are middle and low class. No high-class leaders join the movement, many head of the state resign after the movement due to social pressures, and Ideas spreading during this movement are democracy and science. Low and middle class parties realised they can make a difference by expressing their political will.

    The movement itself give birth to the Chinese communism party, and it is one of the time major historical moments, which the Chinese government reject to sign unfair legislation. The hate to Japan quickly spread around the country; Japanese goods are resists by the general public. This movement allow the Chinese local factories to take over the market. After the Fourth May movement, 1921 October education system is reformed, changing the system to, 6 years primary school, 4 years of middle school, 4 years of high school and 4-6 years of university.

    Bring in modern factor to the education system, and it is a step forward toward education modernisation. In many ways shows the May Fourth movement is more important than the 1911 Revolution in political, cultural and social terms. In social terms May Fourth movement is a key let to the new generation of higher status of woman; the replacement of the classical language with the vernacular; the freedom and the development of the Chinese communist party. Politically, it is the first time low and middle class people showing their willingness to participate in the republic government.

    In Cultural terms, May Fourth Movement represents the amalgamation of traditional Chinese and Western culture. In the other hand for the Xinhai Revolution, It shows Dr Sun is politically immaturity; the revolution itself is not organised thus brings chaos to the society; Culturally, larger percentages, especially villagers do not even have any idea of republic. Therefore, Fourth May movement offers more achievement to the modernisation of China. Reference list:

    Chang Hao, (1987), “Chinese intellectuals in crisis : search for order and meaning 1890-1911”, University of California, Berkeley. Dickinson F. R. , (1999), “War and National Reinvention: Japan in the Great War”, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge. Eastman L. E. , (1990), “The abortive revolution : China under nationalist rule”, Harvard University, Cambridge. Feigon Lee, (1983), “founder of the Chinese Communist Party”, Princeton University Press, Princeton. Hong Fan, (1997), “liberation of women’s bodies in modern China”,Footbinding, feminism and freedom ,Portland, London.

    Hong Fan,  Mangan J. A. , (1995), “Enlightenment’ aspirations in an oriental setting: female emancipation and exercise in early twentieth-century China”, International Journal of the History of Sport, Volume 12, Issue 3 , pages 80 – 104. Kapp R. A. , (1973), “Szechwan and the Chinese Republic; provincial militarism and central power, 1911-1938”, Yale University Press, New Haven. Kent A. E. , (1999), “China, the United Nations, and human rights”, University of Pennsylvania Press , Philadelphia. Koller J.

    M. ,(1985), “Oriental philosophies”, Scibner, New York. Kymlicka Will, (2002), “Contemporary political philosophy”, Oxford University Pres, Oxford. Liew K. S. , (1971), “truggle for democracy : Sung Chiao-jen and the 1911 Chinese revolution”, Australian National University, Canberra. Mackerras Colin, (1993), “China in Revolution1850-1976”, History Through Documents, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne. Pye L. W, (1971), “conflict and coalition in the modernization of Republican China”, Praeger, New York.

    Schwarcz Vera, (1986), “The Chinese Enlightenment”, University of Califoria, London, England. Seybolt P. J , Chiang G. K. K,(1979), “Language reform in China : documents and commentary”, M. E. Sharpe, White Plains. Shinkichi Eto, Schiffrin H. Z. , (1994), “China’s republican revolution”, University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo. Shurmann Franz, (1968), “Ideology and organization in Communist China”, University of California Press , Berkeley. Zarrow Peter, (2005), “China in War and Revolution, 1895-1949”, Taylor and Francis Group, New York , NY.

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