Far Eastern Governments and Politics: China and Japan

By Paul M. A. Linebarger; Djang Chu et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
The Manchu Empire of China

PRESENT-DAY Chinese leaders, both Nationalists and Communists, have had to manipulate the human material bequeathed them by the immediate past. Indeed, they were themselves part of that human material, subject to the inescapable limitations and advantages, visible or invisible, which accrued to them from the culture to which they were born. Behind the image of Stalin, ultramodern leader of a revolutionary Communist world, there lurks the face of the tense young seminarian named Djugashvili. Comparably behind the modern physician democrat, Sun Yat-sen, there was always to be seen the practical mind of the peasant boy from the mother land of emigration and rebellion, Kwangtung. Both Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung, of China today, are bone, nerve, muscle, and brain, the product of an old China which no Chinese could either recreate or forget.

How Russian is the Soviet Union? How Chinese is Red China, or for that matter, Nationalist China? Questions such as these require not only an understanding of the far past, but a command of the recent past as well.

The absurdities of China in the Tuchün period (about 1916-1930) become understandable fallibilities when they are contrasted with the Manchu Empire, corrupt at its heart even though reformed at the center, which fell in 1912. Most Chinese leaders today were born in the last years or months of "old China." Old China does not mean the China of Confucius, but the China of the Manchus, of the Empress Dowager, of gunboat diplomacy, of the Boxer Rebellion, of the Open Door, of railroad building, of Japanese invasions, of exchanges in money and communications, and of the arrival of the press. Nations with good foundations do not need revolutions. Behind the Bolshevik revolutions there lay the long dry rot of the Romanovs, behind Hitler, the centuries of a Germany with inadequate political form, and be-

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