After suffering its first defeat to the West in the First Opium War in 1842, the Qing imperial court struggled to contain foreign intrusions into China. Efforts to adjust and reform the traditional methods of governance were constrained by a deeply conservative court culture that did not want to give away too much authority to reform.
Following defeat in the Second Opium War in 1860, the Qing tried to modernize by adopting certain Western technologies through the Self-Strengthening Movement from 1861.
Following defeat in the Second Opium War in 1860, the Qing tried to modernize by adopting certain Western technologies through the Self-Strengthening Movement from 1861.
There were many revolutionaries and groups that wanted to overthrow the Qing government to re-establish Han led government. The earliest revolutionary organizations were founded outside of China, such as Yeung Ku-wan's Furen Literary Society, created in Hong Kong in 1890.
Sun Yat-sen's Xingzhonghui (Revive China Society) was established in Honolulu in 1894 with the main purpose of raising funds for revolutions. The two organizations (Furen and Xingzhonghui) were merged in 1894.
In the spring of 1895, the Revive China Society, which was based in Hong Kong, planned the First Guangzhou Uprising. Lu Haodong was tasked with designing the revolutionaries' Blue Sky with a White Sun flag.
In the wars against the Taiping (1851–64), Nian (1851–68), Yunnan (1856–68) and the Northwest (1862–77), the traditional imperial troops proved themselves incompetent and the court came to rely on local armies. In 1895, China suffered another defeat during the First Sino-Japanese War. This demonstrated that traditional Chinese feudal society also needed to be modernized if the technological and commercial advancements were to succeed.
On 26 October 1895, Yeung Ku-wan and Sun Yat-sen led Zheng Shiliang and Lu Haodong to Guangzhou, preparing to capture Guangzhou in one strike. However, the details of their plans were leaked to the Qing government. The government began to arrest revolutionaries, including Lu Haodong, who was later executed. The first Guangzhou uprising was a failure.
In 1898 the Guangxu Emperor was guided by reformers like Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao for a drastic reform in education, military and economy under the Hundred Days' Reform.The reform was abruptly cancelled by a conservative coup led by Empress Dowager Cixi. The Guangxu Emperor, who had always been a puppet dependent on Cixi, was put under house arrest in June 1898. Reformers Kang and Liang would be exiled.
The Boxer Rebellion prompted another foreign invasion of Beijing in 1900 and the imposition of unequal treaty terms, which carved away territories, created extraterritorial concessions and gave away trade privileges. Under internal and external pressure, the Qing court began to adopt some of the reforms.
In 1901, after the Boxer Rebellion started, Tang Caichang and Tan Sitong of the previous Foot Emancipation Society organised the Independence Army. The Independence Army Uprising was planned to occur on 23 August 1900. Their goal was to overthrow Empress Dowager Cixi to establish a constitutional monarchy under the Guangxu Emperor. Their plot was discovered by the governor general of Hunan and Hubei. About twenty conspirators were arrested and executed.
On 8 October 1900, Sun Yat-sen ordered the launch of the Huizhou Uprising. The revolutionary army was led by Zheng Shiliang and initially included 20,000 men, who fought for half a month. However, after the Japanese Prime Minister prohibited Sun Yat-sen from carrying out revolutionary activities on Taiwan, Zheng Shiliang had no choice but to order the army to disperse. This uprising therefore also failed. British soldier Rowland J. Mulkern participated in this uprising.
A very short uprising occurred from 25 to 28 January 1903, to establish a "Great Ming Heavenly kingdom". This involved Tse Tsan-tai, Li Jitang, Liang Muguang and Hong Quanfu, who formerly took part in the Jintian uprising during the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom era.
The Guangfuhui (Restoration Society) was also founded in 1904, in Shanghai with Cai Yuanpei. Other notable members include Zhang Binglin and Tao Chengzhang. Despite professing the anti-Qing cause, the Guangfuhui was highly critical of Sun Yat-sen. One of the most famous female revolutionaries was Qiu Jin, who fought for women's rights and was also from Guangfuhui.
The Huaxinghui (China Revival Society) was founded in 1904 with notables like Huang Xing, Zhang Shizhao, Chen Tianhua and Song Jiaoren, along with 100 others. Their motto was "Take one province by force, and inspire the other provinces to rise up".
In 1905, the Qing sent Zhao Erfeng to Tibet to retaliate against rebellions.
Ma Fuyi and Huaxinghui was involved in an uprising in the three areas of Pingxiang, Liuyang and Liling, called "Ping-liu-li Uprising", in 1905. The uprising recruited miners as early as 1903 to rise against the Qing ruling class. After the uprising failed, Ma Fuyi was executed.
Sun Yat-sen successfully united the Revive China Society, Huaxinghui and Guangfuhui in the summer of 1905, thereby establishing the unified Tongmenghui (United League) in August 1905 in Tokyo.
Wu Yue of Guangfuhui carried out an assassination attempt at the Beijing Zhengyangmen East Railway station in an attack on five Qing officials on 24 September 1905.
In 1906, after the abolition of the imperial examinations, the Qing government established many new schools and encouraged students to study abroad. Many young people attended the new schools or went abroad to study in places like Japan.
The Huanggang Uprising was launched on 22 May 1907, in Chaozhou. The Revolutionary party, along with Xu Xueqiu , Chen Yongpo and Yu Tongshi, launched the uprising and captured Huanggang city. Other Japanese that followed include and. After the uprising began, the Qing government quickly and forcefully suppressed it. Around 200 revolutionaries were killed.
On 2 June, Deng Zhiyu and Chen Chuan gathered some followers, and together, they seized Qing arms in the lake, 20 km (12 mi) from Huizhou. They killed several Qing soldiers and attacked Taiwei on 5 June. The Qing army fled in disorder, and the revolutionaries exploited the opportunity, capturing several towns. They defeated the Qing army once again in Bazhiyie. Many organizations voiced their support after the uprising, and the number of revolutionary forces increased to two hundred men at its height. The uprising, however, ultimately failed.
In July 1907 several members of Tongmenhui in Tokyo advocated a revolution in the area of the Yangtze River.
On 6 July 1907, Xu Xilin of Guangfuhui led an uprising in Anqing, Anhui, which became known as the Anqing Uprising. Xu Xilin at the time was the police commissioner as well as the supervisor of the police academy. He led an uprising that was to assassinate the provincial governor of Anhui, En Ming. They were defeated after four hours of fighting. Xu was captured, and En Ming's bodyguards cut out his heart and liver and ate them. His cousin Qiu Jin was executed a few days later.
From August to September 1907, the Qinzhou Uprising occurred to protest against heavy taxation from the government. Sun Yat-sen sent Wang Heshun there to assist the revolutionary army and captured the county in September. After that, they attempted to besiege and capture Qinzhou, but they were unsuccessful. They eventually retreated to the area of Shiwandashan, while Wang Heshun returned to Vietnam.
On 1 December 1907, the Zhennanguan Uprising took place at Zhennanguan, a pass on the Chinese-Vietnamese border. Sun Yat-sen sent Huang Mintang to monitor the pass, which was guarded by a fort. With the assistance of supporters among the fort's defenders, the revolutionaries captured the cannon tower in Zhennanguan. Sun Yat-sen, Huang Xing and Hu Hanmin personally went to the tower to command the battle. The Qing government sent troops led by Long Jiguang and Lu Rongting to counterattack, and the revolutionaries were forced to retreat into the mountainous areas. After the failure of this uprising, Sun was forced to move to Singapore due to anti-Sun sentiments within the revolutionary groups. He would not return to the mainland until after the Wuchang Uprising.
By 1908, Zhao was appointed imperial resident in Lhasa. Zhao was beheaded in December 1911 by pro-Republican forces.
The New Army was formed in 1901 after the defeat of the Qings in the First Sino-Japanese War. They were launched by a decree from eight provinces. New Army troops were by far the best trained and equipped. The recruits were of a higher quality than the old army and received regular promotions. Beginning in 1908, the revolutionaries began to shift their call to the new armies. Sun Yat-sen and the revolutionaries infiltrated the New Army.
On 27 March 1908, Huang Xing launched a raid, later known as the Qin-lian Uprising, from a base in Vietnam and attacked the cities of Qinzhou and Lianzhou in Guangdong. The struggle continued for fourteen days but was forced to terminate after the revolutionaries ran out of supplies.
In April 1908, another uprising was launched in Yunnan, Hekou, called the Hekou Uprising. Huang Mingtang led two hundred men from Vietnam and attacked Hekou on 30 April. Other revolutionaries who participated include Wang Heshun and Guan Renfu. They were outnumbered and defeated by government troops, however, and the uprising failed.
On 19 November 1908, the Mapaoying Uprising was launched by revolutionary group Yuewanghui member Xiong Chenggei at Anhui. Yuewanghui, at this time, was a subset of Tongmenghui. This uprising also failed.
The strength of the gentry in local politics had become apparent. From December 1908, the Qing government created some apparatus to allow the gentry and businessmen to participate in politics. These middle-class people were originally supporters of constitutionalism. However, they became disenchanted when the Qing government created a cabinet with Prince Qing as prime minister.
Homer Lea, an American, who became Sun Yat-sen's closest foreign advisor in 1910, supported Sun Yat-sen's military ambitions.
In February 1910, the Gengxu New Army Uprising , also known as the Guangzhou New Army Uprising, took place. This involved a conflict between the citizens and local police against the New Army. After revolutionary leader Ni Yingdian was killed by Qing forces, the remaining revolutionaries were quickly defeated, causing the uprising to fail.
At the end of 1911, the Mongols took action with an armed revolt against the Manchu authorities but were unsuccessful in the attempt.
In 1911 as part of the Xinhai Revolution, Tongmenghui sent Luo Fu-xing to the island of Taiwan to free it from being occupied by the Japanese. The goal was to bring Taiwan island back to the Chinese Republic by having the Taiwan Uprising.
By early 1911, an experimental cabinet had thirteen members, nine of whom were Manchus selected from the imperial family.
On 27 April 1911, an uprising occurred in Guangzhou, known as the Second Guangzhou Uprising or Yellow Flower Mound Revolt. It ended in disaster, as 86 bodies were found (only 72 could be identified). The 72 revolutionaries were remembered as martyrs. Revolutionary Lin Juemin was one of the 72. On the eve of battle, he wrote the legendary "A Letter to My Wife", later to be considered as a masterpiece in Chinese literature.
On 24 September, the Literary Society and Progressive Association convened a conference in Wuchang, along with sixty representatives from local New Army units. During the conference, they established a headquarters for the uprising. The leaders of the two organizations, Jiang Yiwu and Sun Wu, were elected as commander and chief of staff. Initially, the date of the uprising was to be 6 October 1911. It was postponed to a later date due to insufficient preparations.
Near the end of October, Chen Jiongming, Deng Keng, Peng Reihai and other members of Guangdong's Tongmenghui organized local militias to launch the uprising in Huazhou, Nanhai, Sunde and Sanshui in Guangdong Province.
Revolutionaries intent on overthrowing the Qing dynasty had built bombs, and on 9 October, one accidentally exploded. Sun Yat-sen himself had no direct part in the uprising and was traveling in the United States at the time in an effort to recruit more support from among overseas Chinese. The Qing Viceroy of Huguang, Rui Cheng , tried to track down and arrest the revolutionaries.
Squad leader Xiong Bingkun and others decided not to delay the uprising any longer and launched the revolt on 10 October 1911, at 7 pm.
The revolt was a success; the entire city of Wuchang was captured by the revolutionaries on the morning of 11 October. That evening, they established a tactical headquarters and announced the establishment of the "Military Government of Hubei of Republic of China". The conference chose Li Yuanhong as the governor of the temporary government. Qing officers like the bannermen Duanfang and Zhao Erfeng were killed by the revolutionary forces.
On 22 October 1911, the Hunan Tongmenghui were led by Jiao Dafeng and Chen Zuoxin. They headed an armed group, consisting partly of revolutionaries from Hongjiang and partly of defecting New Army units, in a campaign to extend the uprising into Changsha. They captured the city and killed the local Imperial general. Then they announced the establishment of the Hunan Military Government of the Republic of China and announced their opposition to the Qing Empire.
On 22 October 1911, Shaanxi's Tongmenghui, led by Jing Dingcheng and Qian ding as well as Jing Wumu and others including Gelaohui, launched an uprising and captured Xi'an after two days of struggle.
On 23 October, Lin Sen, Jiang Qun, Cai Hui and other members of the Tongmenghui in the province of Jiangxi plotted a revolt of New Army units. After they achieved victory, they announced their independence. The Jiujiang Military Government was then established.
After the Xi'an Manchu quarter fell on 24 October, Xinhai forces killed all of the Manchus in the city, about 20,000 manchus were killed in the mass massacre. Many of its Manchu defenders committed suicide, including Qing general Wenrui , who threw himself down a well.
On 29 October, Yan Xishan of the New Army led an uprising in Taiyuan, the capital city of the province of Shanxi, along with Yao Yijie, Huang Guoliang, Wen Shouquan, Li Chenglin, Zhang Shuzhi and Qiao Xi. The Xinhai rebels in Taiyuan bombarded the streets where banner people resided and killed all the Manchu. They managed to kill the Qing Governor of Shanxi, Lu Zhongqi. They then announced the establishment of Shanxi Military Government with Yan Xishan as the military governor. Yan Xishan would later become one of the warlords that plagued China during what was known as "the warlord era".
On 30 October, Li Genyuan of the Tongmenghui in Yunnan joined with Cai E, Luo Peijin, Tang Jiyao, and other officers of the New Army to launch the Double Ninth Uprising. They captured Kunming the next day and established the Yunnan Military Government, electing Cai E as the military governor.
On 31 October, the Nanchang branch of the Tongmenghui led New Army units in a successful uprising. They established the Jiangxi Military Government. Li Liejun was elected as the military governor. Li declared Jiangxi as independent and launched an expedition against Qing official Yuan Shikai.
In November, members of Fujian's branch of the Tongmenghui, along with Sun Daoren of the New Army, launched an uprising against the Qing army. The Qing viceroy, Song Shou, committed suicide.
On 1 November 1911, the Qing government appointed Yuan Shikai as the prime minister of the imperial cabinet, replacing Prince Qing.
On 3 November, after a proposition by Cen Chunxuan from the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, in 1903, the Qing court passed the Nineteen Articles, which turned the Qing from an autocratic system with the emperor having unlimited power to a constitutional monarchy.
On 3 November, Shanghai's Tongmenghui, Guangfuhui and merchants led by Chen Qimei, Li Pingsu, Zhang Chengyou, Li Yingshi, Li Xiehe and Song Jiaoren organized an armed rebellion in Shanghai. They received the support of local police officers.
The rebels captured the Jiangnan Workshop on the 4th and captured Shanghai soon after.
On 4 November, Zhang Bailin of the revolutionary party in Guizhou led an uprising along with New Army units and students from the military academy. They immediately captured Guiyang and established the Great Han Guizhou Military Government, electing Yang Jincheng and Zhao Dequan as the chief and vice governor.
Also on 4 November, revolutionaries in Zhejiang urged the New Army units in Hangzhou to launch an uprising. Zhu Rui, Wu Siyu, Lu Gongwang and others of the New Army captured the military supplies workshop. Other units, led by Chiang Kai-shek and Yin Zhirei , captured most of the government offices. Eventually, Hangzhou was under the control of the revolutionaries, and the constitutionist Tang Shouqian was elected as the military governor.
On 7 November, the Guangxi politics department decided to secede from the Qing government, announcing Guangxi's independence. Qing Governor Shen Bingkun was allowed to remain governor, but Lu Rongting would soon become the new governor.Lu Rongting would later rise to prominence during the "warlord era" as one of the warlords, and his bandits controlled Guangxi for more than a decade. Under the leadership of Huang Shaohong, the Muslim law student Bai Chongxi enlisted in a Dare to Die unit to fight as a revolutionary.
On 5 November, Jiangsu constitutionists and gentry urged Qing governor Cheng Dequan to announce independence and established the Jiangsu Revolutionary Military Government with Cheng himself as the governor. Unlike some of the other cities, anti-Manchu violence began after the restoration on 7 November in Zhenjiang. Qing general Zaimu agreed to surrender, but because of a misunderstanding, the revolutionaries were unaware that their safety was guaranteed. The Manchu quarters were ransacked, and an unknown number of Manchus were killed. Zaimu, feeling betrayed, committed suicide. This is regarded as the Zhenjiang Uprising.
Members of Anhui's Tongmenghui also launched an uprising on 7 November and laid siege to the provincial capital. The constitutionists persuaded Zhu Jiabao, the Qing Governor of Anhui, to announce independence.
On 8 November, after being persuaded by Hu Hanmin, General Li Zhun and Long Jiguang of the Guangdong Navy agreed to support the revolution. The Qing viceroy of Liangguang, Zhang Mingqi, was forced to discuss with the local representatives a proposal for Guangdong's independence. They decided to announce it the next day. Chen Jiongming then captured Huizhou.
On 8 November, supported by the Tongmenghui, Xu Shaozhen of the New Army announced an uprising in Molin Pass, 30 km (19 mi) away from Nanking City. Xu Shaozhen, Chen Qimei and other generals decided to form a united army under Xu to strike Nanking together.
On 8 November, The rebels established the Shanghai Military Government and elected Chen Qimei as the military governor. He would eventually become one of the founders of the ROC four big families, along with some of the most well-known families of the era.
On 9 November, Guangdong announced its independence and established a military government. They elected Hu Hanmin and Chen Jiongming as the chief and vice governor. Qiu Fengjia is known to have helped make the independence declaration more peaceful. It was unknown at the time if representatives from the European colonies of Hong Kong and Macau would be ceded to the new government.
On 9 November, Huang Xing even cabled Yuan Shikai and invited him to join the Republic.
On 11 November, the entire Fujian province declared independence. The Fujian Military Government was established, and Sun Daoren was elected as the military governor.
On 11 November, the united army headquarters was established in Zhenjiang.
On 13 November, persuaded by revolutionary Din Weifen and several other officers of the New Army, the Qing governor of Shandong, Sun Baoqi, agreed to secede from the Qing government and announced Shandong's independence.
On 17 November, Ningxia the Tongmenghui launched the Ningxia Uprising. The revolutionaries sent Yu Youren to Zhangjiachuan to meet Dungan Sufi master Ma Yuanzhang to persuade him not to support the Qing. However, Ma did not want to endanger his relationship with the Qings. He sent the eastern Gansu Muslim militia under the command of one of his sons to help Ma Qi crush the Ningxia Gelaohui.
On 21 November, Guang'an organized the Great Han Shu northern Military Government.
On 22 November, Chengdu and Sichuan began to declare independence.
The Ningxia Revolutionary Military Government was established on 23 November. Some of the revolutionaries involved included Huang Yue and Xiang Shen, who gathered New Army forces at Qinzhou.
By the 27th, the Great Han Sichuan Military Government was established, headed by revolutionary Pu Dianzun. Qing official Duan Fang would also be killed.
On 28 November 1911, Wuchang and Hanyang had fallen back to the Qing army
the revolutionaries convened their first conference at the British concession in Hankou on 30 November.
Between 24 November and 1 December, under the command of Xu Shaozhen, the united army captured Wulongshan, Mufushan, Yuhuatai, Tianbao City and many other strongholds of the Qing army.
On 2 December, Nanking City was captured by the revolutionaries after the Battle of Nanking, 1911.
On 18 December, the North–South Conference was held in Shanghai to discuss the north and south issues.
In Xinjiang on 28 December, Liu Xianzun and the revolutionaries started the Dihua Uprising. This was led by more than 100 members of Geilaohui. This uprising failed.
An independence movement took place that was not limited to just North (outer) Mongolia but was a pan-Mongolian phenomenon. On 29 December 1911, Bogd Khan became the leader of the Mongol empire. Inner Mongolia became a contested terrain between Khan and the Republic. In general, Russia supported the Independence of Outer Mongolia (including Tannu Uriankhai) during the time of the Xinhai Revolution. Tibet and Mongolia then recognized each other in a treaty.
On 29 December 1911, Sun Yat-sen was elected as the first provisional president.
The bulk of the area that was historically known as Kham was now claimed to be the Xikang Administrative District, created by the Republican revolutionaries. By the end of 1912, the last Manchu troops were forced out of Tibet through India.
1 January 1912, was set as the first day of the First Year of the ROC.
On 3 January, the representatives recommended Li Yuanhong as the provisional vice president.
On 7 January 1912, the Yili Uprising with Feng Temin began. Qing governor Yuan Dahua fled and handed over his resignation to Yang Zengxin, because he could not handle fighting the revolutionaries.
In the morning of 8 January, a new Yili government was established for the revolutionaries, but the revolutionaries would be defeated at Jinghe in January and February.
On 16 January, while returning to his residence, Yuan Shikai was ambushed in a bomb attack organized by the Tongmenghui in Donghuamen, Beijing. A total of eighteen revolutionaries were involved. About ten of the guards died, but Yuan himself was not seriously injured. He sent a message to the revolutionaries the next day pledging his loyalty and asking them not to organize any more assassination attempts against him.
Zhang Jian drafted an abdication proposal that was approved by the Provisional Senate. On 20 January, Wu Tingfang of the Nanking Provisional government officially delivered the imperial edict of abdication to Yuan Shikai for the abdication of Puyi.
On 22 January, Sun Yat-sen announced that he would resign the presidency in favor of Yuan Shikai if the latter supported the emperor's abdication. Yuan then pressured Empress Dowager Longyu with the threat that the lives of the imperial family would not be spared if abdication did not come before the revolutionaries reached Beijing, but if they agreed to abdicate, the provisional government would honor the terms proposed by the imperial family.
On 3 February, Empress Dowager Longyu gave Yuan full permission to negotiate the abdication terms of the Qing emperor. Yuan then drew up his own version and forwarded it to the revolutionaries on 3 February.
On 12 February 1912, after being pressured by Yuan and other ministers, Puyi (age six) and Empress Dowager Longyu accepted Yuan's terms of abdication.
On 10 March, Yuan was inaugurated in Beijing as the provisional president of the Republic of China.
On 5 April, the Provisional Senate in Nanjing voted to make Beijing the capital of the Republic and convened in Beijing at the end of the month.
The Kuomintang was formed on 25 August 1912. The KMT held the majority of seats after the election. Song Jiaoren was elected as premier.
In December 1912, The First National Assembly Election Took place according To The Provisional Constitution.
Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, returned to Tibet in January 1913 from Sikkim, where he had been residing. When the new ROC government apologised for the actions of the Qing and offered to restore the Dalai Lama to his former position, he replied that he was not interested in Chinese ranks, that Tibet had never been subordinated to China, that Tibet was an independent country, and that he was assuming the spiritual and political leadership of Tibet. Because of this, many have read this reply as a formal declaration of independence. The Chinese side ignored the response, and Tibet had thirty years free of interference from China.
Song was assassinated in Shanghai on 20 March 1913, under the secret order of Yuan Shikai.
Luo was caught and killed on 3 March 1914. What was left was known as the "Miaoli incident", where more than 1,000 Taiwanese were executed by the Japanese police. Luo's sacrifice is commemorated in Miaoli.