Abstract：After the Wuchang Uprising, in order to avoid the possible embarrassing situation of losing the foothold after the success of the revolution, Kang Youwei, who advocated constitutional monarchy, wrote several articles such as “Letters to Li Yuanhong, Huang Xing, and Tang Hualong”, “On Saving the Country”, “On the Republic”, to persuade the revolutionary party to abandon the idea of overthrowing the monarchy and directly implementing parliamentary politics. In these articles, Kang Youwei emphasized that after the Qing government promulgated the “19 Major Articles of Constitution Beliefs” (hereinafter referred to as the “19 Beliefs”), China turned itself into a republic with a powerless monarch. When analyzing these articles, there is a controversial question that whether the republic with a powerless monarch was just a replica version of constitutional monarchy. This problem has not been solved so far because researchers have not paid enough attention to the writing process of Kang Youwei’s articles.
Through careful analysis of the original appearances, traces of revisions of the manuscripts of “Letters to Li Yuanhong, Huang Xing, and Tang Hualong”, “On Saving the Country”, “On Republic”, and their differences between the published editions, we could basically restore the specific process of Kang Youwei’s proposal of the idea of a republic with a powerless monarch. Before October 30th, 1911, Kang Youwei drafted a letter to Li Yuanhong and others to persuade the revolutionary party to abandon the revolution in order to preserve the whole nation. On November 2nd, 3rd, and 5th, 1911, the Qing government successively announced that the constitution would be drafted by the Central Advisory Council, the “19 Beliefs” and the congress would soon convene. After this, Kang Youwei began to write “On Saving the Country” and “On the Republic”, aiming to demonstrate that China was a constitutional monarchy which was no different from a republic after the revolution, and that a republic was not suitable for China. Immediately afterwards, possibly influenced by the Japanese political scientists, Kang Youwei rewrote “Letters to Li Yuanhong, Huang Xing, and Tang Hualong”, “On Saving the Country” and “On the Republic”, to describe constitutional monarchy as a republic with a powerless monarch by using the ambiguity of the concept of the republic, to persuade the revolutionary party to stop the revolution. Related to this, the existing viewpoint about the writing time of these articles of Kang Youwei should also be adjusted.
Restoring the specific process of Kang Youwei’s proposal of the theory of a republic with a powerless monarch, we can find that Kang Youwei’s lengthy discourses on a republic with a powerless monarch seemed to be full of academic principles, but in fact it was not a deliberate political design. To a large extent, it was only an expression skill and public opinion strategy to adjust to the political changes.
This study also suggests that we cannot interpret Kang Youwei’s ideas and actions based on the collated version of his articles alone. If conditions permit, we should make full use of the original manuscripts, which contain various additions, deletions, and changes, to restore the complex and vivid historical events, and see how Kang Youwei’s thoughts had been adjusted and changed in response to the changing situation. In other words, while studying Kang Youwei’s thoughts, it is not appropriate to directly select fragmentary expressions for ideological deduction, which might lead to the situation that the more organized the opinion is, the farther away we are from the fact.
邓华莹. 文本改写与言说真意：辛亥康有为虚君共和论的来龙去脉[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 0, (): 1-.
Deng Huaying. Text Rewriting and Speaking Intention: The Context of Kang Youwei’sTheory of a Republic with a Powerless Monarch in the Revolution of 1911. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 0, (): 1-.