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«I. Race and Population II. The Political and Economic Forces III. The Nationalistic Spirit of the Chinese IV. Nationalism versus Cosmopolitanism V. ...»

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by Dr. Sun Yat-sen


I. Race and Population

II. The Political and Economic Forces

III. The Nationalistic Spirit of the Chinese

IV. Nationalism versus Cosmopolitanism

V. Methodology of Nationalism

VI. National Morale and World Tranquility


DR. SUN’S PREFACE After publishing the three books, Psychological Reconstruction, 1 Material Reconstruction,2 and Social Reconstruction,3 I had begun to write another one on Political Reconstruction3 in order to complete my series of “The Principles of Reconstruction.” The field of the book, Political Reconstruction, was much larger than that of the other three; it included the Doctrine of Nationalism, the Doctrine of Democracy, the Doctrine of Livelihood,4 the Five-Power Constitution, Local Government, the Central Government, Foreign Policies and National Defense5 — eight parts in all. I completed the Doctrine of Nationalism and a large part of the Doctrine of Democracy and the Doctrine of Livelihood.

Materials for the other volumes were all ready. I could have written them without further preparation as soon as I had time. I expected to publish them together when I had finished them all. Unexpectedly the revolt of Chen Ch'iung-ming and the bombardment of Kuan Yin Hill on June 16, 1922, caused the destruction by fire of all my manuscripts—the product of several years of hard work—and the destruction also of several hundred volumes of Western books.

Now we are reorganizing the Kuomintang! Our comrades have resolved to struggle forward, and we are in crying need of the San Min Doctrine and the Five-Power Constitution for propaganda purposes. I have been lecturing on these subjects every Monday, and I have had Mr. Huang Ch'ang-ku take notes and Mr. Tsui Lu read the manuscript. In order to distribute these notes as soon as possible to our comrades, I have had the Doctrine of Nationalism printed as a separate monograph.

During the course of my lecturing, I have had neither sufficient time for preparation nor sufficient books for reference. For the most part I have spoken what I could remember from previous writings, but I had forgotten a great deal. Although I made many corrections before the notes went to press, this book is far inferior to the previous manuscript in the content of its thought, in the manner of presentation, and in the selection of illustrations. I hope, therefore, that my comrades will use this volume as the basis of a more elaborate, a more thorough, and a more accurate book; and use it for propagating our principles in the interest of our national welfare.


Headquarters of the Generalissimo Canton, March 30, The Thirteenth Year of the Republic [1924] 1 The book is also called, The Philosophy of Sun Wen, published in 1919.

2 The book is also called, The International Development of China. The English text of the book was published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, in 1922.

3 The book is also called, The Primer of Democracy, published in 1917.

4 The collection of the first three parts is known as the San Min Doctrine.

5 Dr. Sun was never able to start writing the last five parts.

–  –  –

DEAR FRIENDS : I am going to speak on the San Min Doctrine. This doctrine may be briefly described as a doctrine for the salvation of the nation. A doctrine is a thought, a faith, and a force. When one reasons on a certain thing, he first develops thoughts. After his thoughts are articulated, he creates a faith and thereby force is produced. A doctrine, therefore, begins with thought, is then vitalized by the creation of faith, and finally is established by the production of force.

The San Min Doctrine is a doctrine for the salvation of the nation in this sense—by promoting the recognition of China as the equal of other nations; by producing political equilibrium and economic justice in the country, it will fit China for perpetual existence in the world. If we come to the conclusion that the San Min Doctrine is the way of salvation for China, we may say that we believe in the San Min Doctrine. Such a belief will produce a force powerful enough to effect the salvation of the country.


I shall first speak of the Min Ts’u Doctrine or the Doctrine of Nationalism. In the reorganization of the Kuo-mintang we have recognized the importance of publicity, that is, the wide propagation of our principles as the means of saving the country. Although in recent years intellectuals throughout the land have heard about the San Min Doctrine, there are not a few who do not comprehend its meaning. I shall, therefore, make a careful analysis, first, of the Min Ts’u Doctrine.

With Chinese social traditions in mind, the meaning of the Min Ts'u Doctrine may be briefly explained as the "doctrine of the national group." In the past, Chinese have emphasized the family relationship and kinship, and as a result we have had only the “doctrine of the family group,” and the “doctrine of the clan group,” but no such doctrine as that of the “national group” or nationalism.

Our lack of unity, which foreigners characterize as scattered sands, is caused by our lack of national consciousness. Among the Chinese people the family and kinship ties are very strong. Not infrequently people sacrifice their lives and homes for some affair of kinship;

for instance, in Kwangtung, two clans may fight regardless of loss of life and property. On the other hand, our people hesitate to sacrifice themselves for a national cause. The spirit of unity has not extended beyond the family and clan relationships.

–  –  –

What I am saying about nationalism being the doctrine of the national-group cannot be applied to foreign countries. In foreign countries there is a difference between 3 nationality and nation. For instance, in English the word “nation” has two meanings: either an ethnic group having common cultural and racial background, or a country under one government. These two meanings are widely different although they are expressed by the same word. In the Chinese language there are many words having two different meanings.

For instance the expression, she hui (society), may either denote the collective phenomenon of human association or a particular social organization. The words “nation” and “nationality” are inseparably related, yet each of these words has certain limits; we ought to know what the distinction is.

Why can the statement that the doctrine of nationalism is the doctrine of the national group be properly applied to China only, not to foreign countries? In China since the days of Ching6 and Han,7 the country has been made up of one race; while in foreign countries, one race may form several states or one state may comprise several different races.

The British Empire is made up of the white race as the principal people, and the black people, the brown people, and others. The statement, then, that the nationality is the nation-group cannot be applied to Great Britain. For the same reason neither Hongkong nor India can be described as of English nationality. We all know that the English people belong to the Anglo-Saxon race, and most of the American people also belong to the Anglo-Saxon stock. In foreign countries, therefore, nation and nationality are two different things.


How can we discover the distinction between nation and nationality? The best way is to study the forces by means of which nation-groups and nationality-groups are formed.

Briefly speaking, nationality-groups are formed by natural development, and nations are made by conquest. According to our own political philosophy, what our philosophers called wang tao (the rule of benevolent government) is the development of a group through natural and harmonious growth; and what they called pa tao (the rule of military force) is the expansion of a group through conquest.

The product of wang tao is nationality, and that of pa tao is a national state.

Hongkong and India, which constitute a part of the British Empire, were acquired by the English through force. At present the British Empire has colonial possessions all over the world. It is a common saying that “the sun never sets on the British flag”; that is, within the twenty-four hours of the day wherever the sun may be shining, there are British possessions. In all the vast territory of the British Empire every piece of territory has been acquired by means of force.

Throughout history, force has been used for the formation of national states. On the other hand, nationality-groups are always brought about by natural causes without any compulsory action, for example, the hundreds of thousands of Chinese in Hongkong naturally form a nationality-group, and they cannot be changed by the British whatever forcible method they may use. Thus a group brought about by wang tao or natural forces is a nationality-group, and one created by pa tao or military forces is a nation-group. This is 6 The Ching dynasty lasted from 2S5 to 206 B.C.

7 The two Han dynasties lasted from 206 B.C. to 214 A.D.

4 the distinction.


Now may I speak of the origin of nationality groups? Although man is a kind of animal, he is the highest and he is the highest and the most intelligent of all animals. There are five principal divisions of the human race; namely, the white race, the black race, the red race, the yellow race, and the brown race. Each race is subdivided into different stocks.

For instance, the Asiatic people is differentiated into the famous Mongols, the Malays, the Japanese, the Manchus, the Chinese, and others.

Racial differentiations are due to natural causes, the principal being heredity. Our yellow skin is inherited from our ancestors, and this blood relationship determines our racial traits. The next biggest factor is occupation, which determines largely the acquired characteristics of a people. The Mongols were a nomadic people and their mode of life made them once very strong. During the Yuan8 dynasty they united China, conquered Central Asia, Arabia, and parts of.Europe, almost subdued Japan, and almost unified Europe and Asia. Neither the Chinese during the days of Han and T'ang nor the Romans can be compared with them in military greatness and territorial expansion. They could travel afar because of their nomadic habits.

The third factor is language. Alien people can easily be assimilated by the Chinese if they know our language. On the other hand, we ourselves can easily be foreignized when we understand a foreign language. The power of assimilation is specially strong when two peoples have common racial heredity and common language.

The fourth factor is religion; namely, to worship common gods or believe in common cults. That religion promotes the long existence of a racial group is shown in the Jews, the Arabians, and the Hindus. Although they have lost their country, they are still recognized as powerful nationality groups. Many world-famous scholars like Marx and Einstein are Jews. Today many Jews are influential business men in England and America.

The fifth and last factor is folk-ways and traditions. When two peoples have similar folk-ways and traditions, they will naturally form one nationality group. If we study the various racial stocks in the world, we will find that their differentiation comes from these five factors; that is, heredity, means of livelihood, language, religion, and folk-ways. These five factors are products of natural evolution, not fruits of military conquests.


For historic reasons China must be saved. The development of Chinese nationalism will give our people a permanent place in the civilized world; so it is our duty to make effective the doctrine of nationalism. Although there are a little over ten millions of non-Chinese in China, including Mongols, Manchus, Tibetans, and Tartars, their number is small compared with the purely Chinese population, four hundred million in number, which has a common racial heredity, common religion, and common traditions and customs. It is one nationality! What is, then, our position in the world? In numbers we are the largest national group in the world, and our four thousand years of cultural background may be compared 8 Also known as the Mongol dynasty (1260-1368).

5 favorably with that of the West. Unfortunately, we lack national unity, and our country, which is weak as well as poor, is being reduced to an inferior position among the nations.

The times are critical, for there is a danger of racial destruction. Unite the four hundred millions and save the nation through nationalism!

–  –  –

The nature of our crisis can best be visualized by comparing ourselves with the Powers.

Before the Great War there were seven or eight mighty nations; Great Britain being the largest, Germany, Austria, and Russia the most militaristic, the United States the wealthiest, with Japan and Italy as newcomers. Three Powers collapsed after the war, and only Great Britain, France, Japan, and Italy are now considered first class Powers.

Among the Powers, Britain, America, France, and Russia have their national foundation in nationalism. The development of the British Empire began in England and Wales with ahandful of the so-called Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxon people are a strong race and the nations they have founded are very powerful. One hundred years ago the population of the British Isles numbered twelve millions, and now it is thirty-eight millions; the present population is three times larger than the population of one hundred years ago!


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