Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925) is the father of modern China, and is much revered by both the free Chinese in the Republic of China on Taiwan, and also by the communists in mainland China.

Today we would probably call him an outstanding man of many contradictions. He was Western educated, and professed faith in Protestant Christianity. Yet he married a woman before he divorced his first wife, and also had two concubines. He agitated for peaceful reform, but also led a revolution that was anything but peaceful. He founded the Nationalist Party (Chinese: Kuomintang) in order to out the imperialist Chinese government and foreign powers (Japan, Russia, Breath Britain, France), and at the same time leaned heavily on some of those same powers for assistance.

Sun was the first (provisional) president of the new Republic of China in 1911, and over the next 14 turbulent years found himself in and out of power, but always heavily influencing China’s direction.

His “Three Principles of the People” was the center of his political thought for a new China emerging in the 20th century: nationalism, “democracy”, and “people’s livelihood.” In nationalism he wanted China to be free from foreign powers. “Democracy” for him meant a Western constitutional republic. And “people’s livelihood” meant that the government had a vested interest in securing clothing, food, housing, and “mobility” (freedom to move up economically) for the masses of impoverished Chinese at the time.

Sadly, Sun died of cancer in March of 1925, and never saw his beloved land transformed into the free and prosperous nation he knew it could become.

The nation descended into a maelstrom of civil war, Japanese conquest and butchery, more civil war, and finally victory for the most brutal and murderous regime in history: the Chinese communist party.