Nanjing at Night
Nanjing at Night
 

Nanjing at Night
Nanjing at Night Nanjing at NightWe arrived in Nanjing towards dusk but even in the setting sun we could see that Nanjing was different from some of the other cities we had visited. There seemed to be a closer harmony between the city and its setting. Tree lined boulevards were more the norm than the exception. Fancy stores and even fancier car dealerships attested to the city's wealth or at least to that of some of its luckier citizens. One of the first places we visited was the famous city walls. Nanjing was one of the earliest established cities in the southern China area.

Nanjing - ChopsticksAccording to legend, Fu Chai, the Lord of the State of Wu, founded the first city, Yecheng in today's Nanjing area in 495 BC. Later in 473 BC, The State of Yue conquered Wu and constructed the city of Yuecheng on the outskirts of the present day Zhonghua Gate. In 333 BC, after eliminating the State of Yue, the State of Chu built Jinling Yi in the northwestern part of the present day Nanjing. Since then, the city has experienced numerous razings and reconstructions. Nanjing first became a capital in 229 AD when Sun Quan of the Wu Kingdom relocated his capital to Jianye during the Three Kingdoms Period.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Nanjing area was known as Jiangning and served as the seat of government for the Liangjiang Viceroy. Nanjing was the capital of the Taiping Kingdom in the mid-19th century, being renamed as Tianjing (lit. Heaven's Capital). As Qing general Zeng Guofan retook the city in 1864, a massive slaughter occurred in the city with over 100,000 of its inhabitants fighting to the death or committing suicide. In 1912, Dr. Sun Yat-sen led a successful democratic revolution to overthrow the Qing Dynasty and establish the Republic of China, making Nanjing its capital. The capital was later moved to Beijing after Yuan Shi-kai took over the presidency.

Nanjing at Night Nanjing at Night Nanjing at Night Briefly in 1928, the Kuomintang (KMT) under Chiang Kai-Shek again established Nanjing as the capital of China (Republic of China) in opposition to the government in Beijing which was led by northern warlords. In 1937, in response to the Japanese invasion a war of resistance grew around the country. Japan focused an aerial bombardment on the city. When the invaders finally entered the city they conducted a brutal massacre dubbed the "Rape of Nanjing" and an estimated 300,000 men, women and children lay dead as the result in what can only be called an orgy of death. After World War II, the KMT relocated its central government to Nanjing. On April 23, 1949, The People's Liberation Army conquered Nanjing, officially ending the Republic of China's rule in the mainland. Nanjing has remained the provincial capital of Jiangsu.

 
 

In the hearts of his countrymen, Sun Yat-sen holds a unique place but this "Father of the Chinese Revolution" spent much of his time in exile, and almost none of his cherished schemes came near to fruition. Born in 1866 to a farming family in southeast China he received a few years of local schooling before moving to Hawaii at the age of 13, where his elder brother had emigrated. Three years of study in a Honolulu boarding school run by the Church of England were followed by more than a decade in Hong Kong, where Sun was baptized a Christian and gained certificates of proficiency in medicine and surgery. He practiced medicine briefly in Hong Kong in 1893 but early on developed contacts with dissidents on the mainland. By 1905, Sun began to develop a more coherent set of guiding principles. In this new ideology, which he termed the "Three Principles of the People," Sun sought to combine the fundamental aspects of nationalism, democracy and socialism.

Over the years, Sun developed these ideas into a comprehensive plan for restoring economic and moral strength to his country, first by expelling the Manchu Dynasty and then by curbing the foreign powers that had exercised undue influence on his homeland since the Opium Wars.. He also hoped to free Chinese from graver forms of social exploitation by building a central government that would counter the rampant forces of capitalism in industry and of powerful landlords in the countryside. It was Sun's view that, in the early stages of China's regeneration, the country should be controlled by a rigorously structured central party, dedicated in loyalty to him personally as absolute leader. But through a carefully calibrated period of "tutelage," the Chinese people would be introduced to the principles and practices of representative government, until finally the tutelage would end and China could emerge as a strong, full-fledged democracy.

Ironically this ideology somewhat mimics Marxist ideals regarding the "withering of the state" during the higher phases of a communist society. Sadly Sun Yat-sen  was never to reach his goals, exploited by more ruthless individuals and suffering from inoperable liver cancer, he died in Beijing in March 1925. A mausoleum was built in Nanjing and his body was sent across China by railway in an impressive mourning cortège, making his burial an event of political enshrinement claimed by both the Kuomintang and the Communists who overthrew them in 1949.
 
Nanjing at Night