Zou Rong calls for a Chinese revolution (1903)

The following call for a Chinese revolution was written by Zou Rong, an anti-Manchu nationalist, in 1903. Zou Rong was arrested for writing this piece and died in prison in 1905:

“Sweep away millennia of despotism in all its forms, throw off millennia of slavishness, annihilate the five million and more of the furry and horned Manchu race, cleanse ourselves of 260 years of harsh and unremitting pain, so that the soil of the Chinese subcontinent is made immaculate, and the descendants of the Yellow Emperor will all become Washingtons.

How sublime is revolution, how majestic! It is inevitable if the Manchu yoke is to be thrown off; it is inevitable if China is to be independent; it is inevitable is to take its place as a powerful nation on the globe; it is inevitable if China is to survive for long in the new world of the 20th century; it is inevitable if China is to be a great country in the world and play the leading role. Stand up for Revolution!

Fellow-countrymen, are there any of you whether old or in middle years, in your prime of life or young, be it man or woman, who is talking of revolution or working actively for revolution?

Fellow countrymen, assist each other and live for each other in revolution. I here cry at the top of my voice to spread the principles of revolution throughout the land. Revolution is the universal principle of evolution. Revolution is the essence of the struggle for survival of destruction in a time of transition. Revolution submits to heaven and responds to men’s needs. Revolution rejects what is corrupt and keeps the good. Revolution is the advance from barbarism to civilisation. Revolution turns slaves into masters!

I have carefully modelled on the principles of American revolutionary independence. I have summarised them under a number of headings, and with the utmost deference I offer to my most revered and beloved 400 million countrymen of the great Han people to prepare them for the path they are to follow:

China is the China of the Chinese. Countrymen, you must all recognise the China of the Chinese of the Han race. Not to allow any alien race to lay their hands on the least rights of our China Any obligations subordinating people to the Manchus are one and all annulled.

First, to overthrow the barbaric government set up by the Manchus in Peking… To expel the Manchus settled in China or kill them in order to revenge ourselves… To kill the emperor set up by the Manchus as a warning to the myriad generations that despotic government is not to be revived.

To set up a central government, which will act as a general body to run affairs. In each area and province a deputy to a general assembly is to be elected by vote in public elections. From these deputies, one is to be elected by vote to serve as provisional president to represent the whole country.

The whole population, whether male or female, are citizens. All men have the duty to serve as citizen soldiers. Everybody has the duty of bearing the burden of taxation. The whole country has the duty to show loyalty to the newly established state. Everybody in the country, whether male or female, is equal. There is no distinction between upper and lower, base and noble.

All inalienable rights are bestowed by nature. The freedom to live and all other privileges are natural rights. Freedoms, such as that of speech, thought, the press, etc. cannot be infringed on. All rights must be defended. The government which must be set up by public agreement, must employ all the powers granted purely to defend popular rights.”