Monday, October 10, 2011

Wuchang Uprising - The Choice by the people

The New Armies (新軍) were the modernized Qing armies, trained and equipped according to Western standards. The first of the new armies was founded in 1895, following Japan's victory in the First Sino-Japanese War.

On December 8, 1895, Empress Dowager Cixi appointed Yuan Shikai the commander of the 4,000 men who formed the basis of the first New Army. Further expanded to 7,000, this New Army became the most formidable of the three army groups stationed near Beijing and proved effective against the Boxers in Shandong province. Yuan showed his loyalty to the Qing court, albeit little more than symbolically, by committing a detachment to relieve Beijing from foreign hands.

The New Army was gradually expanded and upgraded in the following years. Yuan became increasingly disrespectful of the dynasty and only loyal to the party from which he benefited; his defection to Cixi against Guangxu Emperor was a major blow to the Hundred Days Reform. After 1900, Yuan's troops were the only militia that the Qing court could rely on amidst revolutionary uprisings throughout China.

The successful example of the new army was followed in other provinces. The New Army of Yuan was renamed the Beiyang Army on June 25, 1902 after Yuan was officially promoted to the "Minister of Beiyang". By the end of the dynasty in 1911, most provinces had established sizable new armies; however, Yuan's army was still most powerful, comprising six groups and numbering more than 75,000 men. The Qing unified all of China's armies into one force, the "Chinese Army", which was commonly still called the New Army. Two-thirds of the Chinese Army was Yuan's Beiyang Army.

During the Xinhai Revolution, most of the non-Beiyang forces as well as some Beiyang units in the Chinese Army revolted against the Qing. Yuan led the Beiyang Army into opposing the revolution while also negotiating for the Qing's surrender and his ascendency to the presidency of the new republic.

There were 5,000 new army in Hubei. About 75% were either member of the revolutionary movement or supporters.

The uprising itself broke out by accident. At the time there were two local revolutionary groups ready in Wuhan, the Literary society (文學社) and the Progressive Association (共進會). The two groups worked together led by Chiang Yi-wu (蔣翊武) and Sun wu (孫武).

The Wuchang Uprising began with the dissatisfaction of the handling of a railway crisis. The crisis then escalated to an uprising where the revolutionaries went up against Qing government officials. The uprising was then assisted by the New Army in a coup against their own authorities in the city of Wuchang, Hubei province on October 10, 1911.[1] The Battle of Yangxia led by Huang Xing would be the major battle in the uprising. These events served as a catalyst to the Xinhai Revolution, which led to the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC). It was actually New Army Mutiny.

They met in Yanzhi Lu and decided mutiny to be on Mid-Autumn festival (6-10-1911), but the date was disclosed by the drunken soldiers, the government army imposed curfew, the date was postponed to 9-10-1911. An accident by cigarettes caused an exposure, which resulted in the alert of the government army, and the Member Register of Revolutionaries was obtained by the army. Sun wu (孫武)was seriously injured.

Facing arrest, and certain execution, the revolutionaries had their identities revealed. They had no choice but to stage a coup. Qing Viceroy of Huguang Duan Zheng (瑞澂) tried to track down the revolutionaries. Jiang Yiwu (蔣翊武) of the Literary society decided to launch an attack that night, but was discovered by the Qing. Before the mutiny started , the group were surrounded by the government army, 32 were captured except Chiang Yi-wu (蔣翊武).Several members were arrested and executed.

Xiong Bingkun (熊秉坤) then decided to revolt on the evening of October 10, 1911 at 7pm. The modernized New Army in Wuchang staged a mutiny. While the New Army belonged to the Qing government, it has already been infiltrated by the then exiled Sun Yat-sen's anti-Qing allegiance. This event would takeover the government house office of Duan Zheng, who was terrified and escaped from a dig-tunnel. After fierce fighting, the army captured strategic points in the city. More revolutionaries joined the revolt and the government troops were defeated.

This was the famous Wuchang Uprising or Wuchang Mutiny. The 18 star flag of the revolutionary was raised at famous Heyang tower. The uprising later spread to become Xinhai Revolution that ended the Qing Empire.

Sun Yat-sen himself played no direct part with the uprising in Wuchang. He was traveling in the United States, trying to drum up financial support from overseas Chinese. At the time he was at Denver Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. He received a telegram from Huang Xing that was one week old and could not decipher it because he did not have the secret key with him. The next morning he read in the newspaper headline that the city of Wuchang was occupied by the revolutionaries. After the wuchang uprising, the revolutionaries telegraphed the other provinces asking them to declare their independence, and 15 provinces declared their independence from the Qing dynasty in Southern China and Central China

Representatives from the seceding provinces met and declared the founding of the Republic of China on January 1, 1912. Sun Yat-sen would return to China on December 1911 to be elected provisional president of the Republic of China.

When the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 broke out, the Wuchang mutineers needed a visible high-ranking officer to be their figurehead. Li Yuanhong (黎元洪)was well respected, had supported the Railway Protection Movement, and knew English which would be useful in dealing with foreign concerns. He was reportedly dragged from hiding under his wife's bed and forced at gunpoint to be the provisional military governor of Hubei despite killing several of the rebels. Though reluctant at first, he embraced the revolution after its growing momentum and was named military governor of China on November 30.

Li was made vice president as a compromise and he formed People's Society to campaign for the presidency.

Sun eventually agreed to cede his provisional presidency to Yuan Shikai, in exchange for Yuan's help in pressuring the Last Emperor to abdicate. On February 12, 1912, Puyi, the Last Emperor stepped down from the throne. The Qing dynasty could no longer govern itself as it seemed to have forefeited the mandate of heaven. This brought an end to the imperial era.

The Wuchang Uprising was started basically by the new army of the Qing Empire, who were supporters of Tongmenhui, a form of mutiny. The one person who has done much of the ground work within the new army was Zhao Shen(趙聲, 1881-1911), the chief commander of the revolutionists in 2nd Guangzhou New Army Uprising(庚戌新军起义/廣州新軍起義) and the Huanghuakang Uprising(黃花崗起義). After the failure of Huanghuakang Uprising, he was so sad and become seriously ill, passed away on 18-4-1911. Zhao Shen, himself a new army official, would have participated in the Wuchang Uprising if he is still alive. Another one was Ni Yingdian(倪映典 1885-1910),who was the 2nd in command of 2nd Guangzhou Uprising or Guangzhou New Army Uprising( 庚戌新军起义/廣州新軍起義), also a new army.

Remember Hwang Xing(黃興),Zhao Shen(趙聲), and Ni Yingdian(倪映典)in Wuchang Uprising, they are the man behind the event.....their names may not be remember now in Mainland China and Taiwan. It was 100 years ago, many have fade memory or disregard the historical personality...

Choices were made which led to various historical events of China by the heroes of the era, the journey to Republic.

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