Volume 17, Issue 2, 2020
Stem to Steam: The Ethical Impact of Cultural and Artistic Practices at a Time of Crisis
G. Kentak Son
Cultural Race and an Inclusive Nationalism Sun Yat-sen’s (1866-1925) Nationalism during China’s Modernization
Sun Yat-Sen was a Chinese philosopher and politician, who served as the provisional first president of the Republic of China, and first leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China). He argued that common blood, language, customs, religion and livelihood were the five essential elements that constituted a nation. Sun was influenced by social Darwinism in his understanding that socio-cultural forces could override the innate characteristics of race. Thus, he employed racially defined nationalism by invoking anti-Manchuism. Although China’s modernisation in the first decades of the 20th century was attributed to Sen, this paper shows that his insistence on the consanguine Han race produced inconsistencies, as his racially defined nationalism and republicanism were mutually exclusive, the latter being based on the inclusion of all citizens regardless of their ethnic background. Indeed, modern nations are constituted by both naturally inherited and culturally acquired qualities of the people. Since China consists of many ethnic groups, Sen’s emphasis on consanguine Chinese race has produced a racially exclusionary nation and has caused racial conflict.