Xinhai Revolution: Serious, And Not So Serious

Posted October 13th, 2011 at 10:14 pm (UTC+0)
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A view of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution

A view of the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution with a portrait of revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 9, 2011. (AFP / POOL / Minoru Iwasaki)

October 10 marked an important anniversary for China.  It had been 100 years since the last dynasty in China was overthrown and replaced by a Republic.

The Xinhai Revolution (辛亥革命), beginning with the Wuchang Uprising (武昌起义) of October 10, 1911, was pivotal for the Chinese; the following year, Sun Yat-sen (孙中山) founded a new government.

Netizens have been buzzing about the revolution for days, bringing the event’s significance forward to the present day.

The meaning of the anniversary to modern day China was discussed by many. grace_xiang, a user of Sina weibo, said:

“The thing to remember about the Xinhai Revolution is not that it was a revolution but how it wasn’t one. Which means that even though it began with guns, it ended with paper and pens. Even though the Qing definitely didn’t want to, they still peacefully transferred their power — not according to Chinese conventions, but to the world’s convention. This was the magnificent move that opened up a century and an era. But the shame is that in the couple of thousand years of Chinese history, there was only this one flash of inspiration, but in the end no-one noticed it, and in the end it returned again to being ruled by wild tyrants like it always had been.”

Many replies to grace_xiang were supportive. Media personality Laughing Shu said:

“If this angle is unique in this day and age, it shows how low the standard is for acquiring knowledge and for thinking. And how we’ve wasted the last hundred years…”

State media journalist and science fiction writer Han Song had a very different take in his own post on weibo:

“Lately I have been reading many articles remembering the Xinhai Revolution, I feel that even though everyone is attaching significance, in reality there is only one conclusion to all of this: decide with power, decide with your fist. Talking about a republic and a democracy: it’s useless. That’s why Sun Yat-sen had to put up with so much. It was only afterward that people understood this, and they all raced to implement what they learned. This has been the rule for development in China for the last 100 years.

However, not everyone struck such a serious tone. Many took a more lighthearted approach to the anniversary.

“Acting Cute” (卖萌) has been a hot Internet meme this year. The characters for “Acting Cute” also decompose to read “10th day of the 10th month”. So on this anniversary, netizens were encouraged to send in photos to Sina weibo of them “acting cute.”

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China Wangre (中国网热) is a wide-ranging look at the latest digital news and trends from the world’s largest online population.

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