The election of Sun Yatsen marked the beginning of the final act of more than two millennia of Chinese imperial history. The Qing dynasty, which had ruled since 1644, yielded to Chinese nationalists and reformers as well as rebellion in the ranks of the military. On February 12, 1912, the imperial court announced the abdication of the boy emperor Puyi. The central government remained weak, however, buffeted by warlords, Japanese imperialism and the growing Communist movement within. An excerpt from The Post of Dec. 29, 1911:
Special to The Washington Post
Nanking, Dec. 29 (Friday). --
Dr. Sun Yat Sen has been unanimously elected president of the republic of China.Peking, Dec. 28. -- The throne today resolved to make the great plunge which has already been foreshadowed and place its fate in the hands of a national convention, to be elected on a popular basis.
The dowager empress, Premier Yuan Shih Kai, and the Manchu princes met today to discuss the proposal for a national conference to decide on the future government of China. The throne accepted the proposal and instructed the cabinet to draw up regulations for the inauguration of the conference, and to inform the members of the Shanghai throne. The throne is willing, it is announced, to abide by the decisions of the proposed conference, no matter what form of government may be decided upon.
This decision was not reached without difficulty. Some of the princes, especially, Yu-Lan and Tsai-Tao, the former a grand councilor, and the latter former minister of war, opposed the proposal, but Prince Ching, the former premier, realizing that the Rubicon must be crossed, supported the convention idea.
It is recognized that notwithstanding the considerable strength of the adherents of the monarchy, the convention, if it is carried out logically, will declare for a republic, and the abdication of the Manchu dynasty will follow. This is admitted even by the native semiofficial press, the chief newspaper of which says the republic seems bound to come, and that it is useless to argue that the Chinese are not fit for such a government.
Yuan Shi Kai, the premier, tried to persuade the representatives of the imperial clan that it would not be necessary for them to throw up the sponge if they would contribute funds to carry on the war. It has been estimated that $30,000,000 would be necessary for this purpose, but the imperial family refused to draw from its enormous hoards either because they prefer safe seclusion or are doubtful of the ultimate success of the imperial armies.
The debate waxed so warm that finally Yuan Shi Kai arose and offered his resignation. This, however, was refused. The dowager empress wept, and Yuan Shi Kai showed signs of distress. Then he declared that he could not desert her and the child emperor, and agreed to continue.
Premier Yuan tonight, however, is said to have pleaded sickness as a reason for taking a rest, and will leave immediate future arrangements in the hands of others. This is regarded as foreshadowing his total withdrawal, which it was predicted yesterday he would do when an excuse offered. Yuan is represented to be keenly disappointed at the decision of the court and adheres to his view that a republic means chaos and eventual foreign intervention.