By David Strand
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Additional resources for An Unfinished Republic: Leading by Word and Deed in Modern China
31 The women denounced Song’s and their party’s actions before an audience of a thousand party members, dignitaries, reporters, and other spectators. Unable to restore order, Zhang Ji, a fellow veteran revolutionary and the convention chair, adjourned the meeting until the afternoon. Even with this respite, the war of words, and fans, continued. The day’s business concluded with votes that conﬁrmed the defeat of women’s rights as a party principle and with a long oration by Sun Yat-sen announcing support for the change in policy that so angered Tang Qunying and her fellow suffragists.
Sun was then an obscure, poorly credentialed provincial. Now, in summer 1912, as a result of the revolution he helped lead, there was no one in political China more prominent than he. Many regarded Sun Yat-sen as “China’s Greatest Man” (Zhongguo diyi weiren). The fragile premise of Sun’s 1912 visit to Beijing was that he and Yuan as former and current provisional presidents would negotiate the future of China. Each had qualities the other lacked. While Sun’s military and organizational resources were limited in comparison to Yuan’s, Sun’s vision of a new China was attractive if not fully persuasive to many.
What Sun had in his possession in 1912 were the seeds of a new kind of power, not the thing itself. 98 George Washington also served two terms as president before he left political life, perhaps, in part, because there had been no American Yuan Shikai in Boston demanding that the new national government come to him, or else. Sun understood that ordinary political maneuvers directed against Yuan were bound to fail in the near term. Sun observed at the time, “For maintaining the present situation, I am not a match for Yuan.
An Unfinished Republic: Leading by Word and Deed in Modern China by David Strand