This year, Chinese around the world are marking the one hundredth anniversary of the end of China’s millennia-old imperial system. Since the Qing dynasty departed, there have been two main claimants to the succession—the Republic of China on Taiwan, founded in l912, and the People’s Republic of China, founded in 1949 and based in Beijing. Even though it has been a century since the Last Emperor reigned, the future of China’s political system is an open question: there is still a spirited debate throughout the Chinese world about fundamental political issues. The People’s Republic, once regarded as the Chinese regime of the future, finds itself under growing pressure at home and increasingly out of step with the movement toward democracy in the world; the far smaller Republic of China, once thought of as an anachronism but now a successful multiparty democracy, is showing itself to be far more robust politically.
Three leading historians and members of Hudson’s staff addressed the meaning and consequences of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, a profound change in China that continues to affect the entire world.