Sun Over Hawaii

Updated: 2011-10-09 07:17

By Hu Yongqi and Peng Yining (China Daily)

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Sun Over Hawaii

Sun Yat-sen is an illustrious alumnus of the Iolani School in Hawaii as proven by this big picture in the lobby of the school. Photos by Hu Yongqi / China Daily

When China's founding father Sun Yat-sen first saw Hawaii, he was a young teenager going to join his brother. Later, the islands' Chinese community would be the first overseas Chinese group to support his budding revolution. On the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, Hu Yongqi and Peng Yining report from Honolulu.

Sun Over Hawaii

Students of Iolani School have a study session in front of a statue of young Sun Yat-sen. Sun arrived in Hawaii at age 13 and spent three years in the school.

People connect through culture 

A role of his own

Sun Over Hawaii

While his great-granduncle built a nation, Peter Sun chose to build hotels in China. In Hong Kong, he talks to Andrea Deng about his great-grandfather Sun Mei, who was Sun Yat-sen's elder brother, the family reputation and his personal chosen path.

The contribution of the overseas Chinese community to the success of the 1911 Revolution is widely recognized. "When we look back, we cannot forget those who contributed to Doctor Sun Yat-sen's revolution and the establishment and reform of modern China," says Xu Yousheng, vice-minister of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, speaking at a commemorative concert in Honolulu. "As Dr Sun himself said, 'The overseas Chinese community was the mother of the Chinese revolution.'"

The revolution, also known as the Xinhai Revolution after the name of the Chinese year it happened, marked the beginning of modern China. On Oct 10, 1911, Sun and his comrades overthrew the Qing Dynasty, thus ending more than 2,000 years of feudal rule in China.

Xu was right. It would never have happened without the support of the overseas Chinese, especially the community in Hawaii.

In 1879, Sun Yat-sen first arrived in Hawaii at the age of 13, sponsored by his brother Sun Mei. The older Sun, like many overseas Chinese, had left his impoverished home village in Guangdong province to start a new life in Hawaii. And like many overseas Chinese, his hard work and bravery was rewarded with success and wealth. His prosperity gave him the chance to offer his younger brother the opportunity to come to Hawaii to study, according to Yen Chun, vice president of Sun Yat-sen Hawaii Foundation.

Later, Sun Mei donated more than $75,000 to his brother's revolutionary cause in 1906, and practically exhausted his wealth. He was not the only one. The rest of the Chinese community in Hawaii also rallied around Sun Yat-sen and many became his earliest and staunchest supporters.

It was in Hawaii that Sun founded the Xingzhong Hui (Revive China Society), the first revolutionary organization he formed, and an important milestone in the history of modern China.

From 1894 to 1895, about 125 Chinese in Hawaii joined the Xingzhong Hui, most of whom were small merchants, workers and intellectuals. Their activities are recorded in Sun Yat-sen in Hawaii: Activities and Supporters, published by Yansheng Ma Lum and Raymond Mun Kong Lum in 1999.





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