BEIJING -- The rise of China is the definitive economic and political story of the time, yet the 1911 Revolution should not be overlooked, as it was the catalyst that enabled the nation to terminate more than 2,000 years of imperial rule -- one of the longest periods of autocratic rule in the world.
China will commemorate the centennial anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, or Xinhai Revolution, with a grand ceremony on Sunday. The legacies of the revolution are set to inspire the world's most populous country with an ancient civilization to continue swimming with the tide of the times, marching on the road to become an empowered modern nation.
The 1911 Revolution, which began on October 10, 1911, with an armed uprising, ended the imperial rule established by Emperor Qinshihuang in B.C.221 by toppling the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and resulting in a republican government, the first in Asia.
Behind the revolution was a burgeoning democratic movement and the rising influence of Western civilization.
The revolution not only rid Chinese men of humiliating ponytails and women of the excruciatingly painful foot-binding, but also removed the people's blind faith in the emperor, as well as the fear of foreign powers. The event has since been emancipating people's minds from thousands of years of oppression and self-enclosure.
China has become a rising power in sharp contrast to 100 years ago when every country could bully it.
Over the past century, the nation united to fight for its destiny and independence. From the Opium War (1840-1842) to the Xinhai Revolution, patriots from all walks of life came together to fight against the imperial autocracy and foreign invasion, with the aim of national rejuvenation by building a country that's respected by the world.
Rejuvenation is the common will of the civilization that has existed for over 5,000 years, and no one can halt the process.
The 1911 Revolution, led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, overthrew imperial rule and opened the gate for China's modernization. Yet the dreams of Sun were not fully accomplished, as leaders of the revolution were from the capitalist class and the masses of workers and farmers were not given full play. They still lived in poverty, their democracy and freedom not guaranteed.
Ten years after the 1911 Revolution, the Communist Party of China (CPC) was founded. It took the banner from Sun and shouldered the responsibility of rejuvenating the nation.
History has proven that only those who fight for the interests of the people can lead the country to success.
Looking back at the past 100 years, it is clear that the Chinese nation swam with the tide of the times, moving forward in the right direction of humanity.
Dating back thousands of years, China was among the first countries that shifted from a slave society to feudalism and took the lead toward advanced technologies and outstanding institutions and culture.
However, imperial China failed to embrace reform while Western countries overthrew feudalism and emancipated the productive forces after the Renaissance. The failure of the Middle Kingdom was a result of standing still and refusing to make progress by insisting imperial autocracy.
The 1911 Revolution was a positive response from China, a result of the country's pioneers applying lessons learned from the outside world. It was also a move from an agricultural society to an industrial society, from autocracy to democracy, and from the emperor's courtyard to the home of ordinary people.
But it failed to establish a modern system to eliminate long-standing malpractices and push forward the country's development. China was mired in civil wars and foreign invasions in the first half of the 20th century before the mantle of leadership was handed over to the CPC.
Looking to the future, the Chinese people have realized they cannot rest on their achievements. They need to be vigilant against unexpected changes and learn from advanced civilizations with open minds. They must exert effort for domestic economic construction rather than seeking world hegemony.
The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will be a long and difficult process, and development still deserves to be a top priority.
Although China has become the world's second largest economy, it remains a developing country, and its GDP per capita ranks only about 100th in the world. Poverty and backwardness still can bee seen in many parts of the country.
And the ancient feudal tradition, including the rule of man in certain areas, is still one of the major obstacles hindering China from realizing its modernization goal.
During his speech entitled "The Path to China's Future" at Britain's renowned Royal Society in June, Premier Wen Jiabao said, "China was long under the influence of feudalism. After the founding of New China, the country went through the turmoil of the decade-long Cultural Revolution. Since China opened itself, some new developments and problems have occurred."
Promoting democracy, improving the legal system and strengthening effective oversight of power remains a long and arduous task for the nation.
To commemorate the 1911 Revolution, with a keen sense of responsibility and democracy, people will spur social progress. The more the people participate in social management and public affairs, the greater the momentum there will be to sustain social progress.
As for China's development, worldwide observers need to take a more patient and milder attitude.
It is better to bear in mind that China feared no difficulties in the history and is pushing forward the reform and opening up with greater resolve.
China has conformed with the general situation of the world and the universal values of humanity and is on its way to becoming a modern and progressive country that seeks common development and interests with other countries.
One hundred years after the revolution, China is again at a crucial point. The world is undergoing fundamental changes, while scientific and technological revolution and economic globalization are progressing every day. With the financial crisis and other problems, the future of the world is uncertain.
Only by swimming with the tide of the times can China achieve complete rejuvenation and make greater contributions to humanity.
(Ji Ming and Pi Shuchu also contribute to the story)