Appealing to the United States for support
Sun Yat-sen, November 1918
SUN YAT-SEN (1866-1925). Letter signed to [Paul Samuel] Reinsch, Shanghai, 19 November 1918. [With:] Typed copy of Sun Yat-sen's telegram to President Woodrow Wilson, Shanghai, 16 November 1918.
One page, 278 x 216mm (minor rust from paperclip at top left).
Sun Yat-sen appeals to Woodrow Wilson to support the fragile Chinese republic: "Whether Democracy or Militarism triumphs in China largely depends upon Your Excellency’s moral support of our helpless people at this stage." A rare and important letter to Samuel Reinsch, head of the American legation to China and a tireless advocate for increased American aid to China in return for its support of the Allies in the First World War. With the armistice signed the previous week, Sun Yat-sen appealed to Wilson via telegram, a copy of which he enclosed with the present letter: "As you are the representative of a nation which has always stood for Justice and Right, I am enclosing you a copy of my telegram to President Wilson. Through you alone will the President and the people of the United States see the true affairs existing now in China." In the telegram he congratulates the President “on the complete victory you have gained over Militarism in this World War. You have done the greatest service to civilization and democracy since the world began.” He then confirms his prediction that joining the conflict would empower “the Militarists in my country [who] would surely utilize the occasion to strangle democracy in China.” He proceeds to implore President Wilson for his help: “I am compelled to appeal to you personally for the sake of Justice, Democracy and Peace in China and make known to you our peace term.” Reinsch embraced wholeheartedly Sun Yat-sen's contention that the United States should focus its post-war energies on the industrialization of China. Yet those recommendations fell on deaf ears. Wilson, despite his stated ideals supporting national self-determination in the post-war order, agreed to allow Japan to assume control over the former German protectorate on the Shantung Peninsula, a move which prompted Reinsch to resign in protest. Wilson's betrayal at Versailles unleased a nationalist revolt in China––the May 4th Movement. This youth movement became the training and recruitment ground both for Sun Yat-Sen’s Nationalist Party, and for the emerging Communist Party.
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