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Sun Yat-sen: father of the nation?

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Sun Yat-sen (1866–1925) made just three brief visits to Taiwan: in 1900, 1913 (for a day) and 1918 (when he was turned away at Keelung harbour). Despite growing apathy among younger generations, he is still officially regarded as the father of modern China on both sides of the Taiwan Strait; every town in Taiwan (and China) has a “Zhongshan” Road or building, recalling Sun’s preferred Chinese name, and his mausoleum in Nanjing is a pilgrimage site for all Chinese. Sun’s popularity stems from his crucial role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911, and the formation of the Republic of China. He was also one of the founders of the Kuomintang (KMT) or Nationalist party in 1912. In Taiwan, many pro-independence politicians object to his title as “founding father” (used in school textbooks) for the obvious reason that he had little to do with the island, but while Taiwan remains the “Republic of China” they have little hope of changing his formal status.

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