Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung


November 12, 1956

[Article in commemoration of the ninetieth birthday of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.]

Let us pay tribute to our great revolutionary forerunner, Dr. Sun Yat-sen!

We pay tribute to him for the intense struggle he waged in the preparatory period of our democratic revolution against the Chinese reformists, taking the clear-cut stand of a Chinese revolutionary democrat. In this struggle he was the standard-bearer of China's revolutionary democrats.

We pay tribute to him for the signal contribution he made in the period of the Revolution of 1911 when he led the people in overthrowing the monarchy and founding the republic.

We pay tribute to him for his signal contribution in developing the new Three People's Principles from the old Three People's Principles in the first period of co-operation between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party.

He bequeathed to us much that is useful in the sphere of political thought.

Save for a handful of reactionaries, the people of contemporary China are all successors in the revolutionary cause to which Dr. Sun Yat-sen dedicated himself.

We have completed the democratic revolution left unfinished by Dr. Sun Yat-sen and developed it into a socialist revolution. We are now in the midst of this revolution.

Things are always progressing. It is only forty-five years since the Revolution of 1911, but the face of China has entirely changed. In another forty-five years, that is, by the year 2001, at the beginning of the 21st century, China will have undergone an even greater change. It will have become a powerful industrial socialist country. And that is as it should be. China is a land with an area of 9,600,000 square kilometres and a population of 600 million, and it ought to make a greater contribution to humanity. But for a long time in the past its contribution was far too small. For this we are regretful.

However, we should be modest -- not only now, but forty-five years hence and indeed always. In international relations, the Chinese people should rid themselves of great-nation chauvinism resolutely, thoroughly, wholly and completely.

Dr. Sun was a modest man. I heard him speak on many occasions and was impressed by the force of his character. From the way he applied himself to the study both of China's past and present and of foreign countries, including the Soviet Union, I knew he was a man with a receptive mind.

He worked heart and soul for the transformation of China, devoting his whole life to the cause; of him it can be justly said that he gave his best, gave his all, till his heart ceased to beat.

Like many great figures in history who stood in the forefront guiding the march of events, Dr. Sun, too, had his shortcomings. These shortcomings should be explained in the light of the historical conditions so that people can understand; we should not be too critical of our predecessors.

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung