Vision and Determination

Wang Jingwei photographed in 1910

Wang Jingwei photographed in 1910

Wang Jingwei wrote in “Autobiographical Sketch” (Oriental Magazine, January 1934):

“I believe my speeches and essays represent my biography most truthfully… My determination for revolution has never changed. Yet, my attitudes toward people and events have changed throughout the years, and I am always outspoken about the reasons behind the changes. As for whether these reasons are right or wrong, I invite people of the present and the future to make their own comments.”

A founder of the Wang Jingwei Trust, Ho Mang Hang, said, “To understand him [Wang Jingwei] as a person, as well as his political thinking and aspirations, it is necessary to read his poetry and essays, especially “Determination for Revolution” and the poem “A recount of my vision and sentiments,” which are essential reading for those who wish to explore Wang Jingwei, both as a person and his deeds.”

As an aide to readers of Wang’s work today, Ho Mang Hang recited “Determination for Revolution” and “A recount of my vision and sentiments” in Cantonese and added his own explanations so that present and future generations will better understand and appreciate this seminal work.

When Wang Jingwei was arrested for attempting to assassinate the Prince Regent Zai Feng in 1910, three of his essays were found sewn into the lining of his coat. One of these was “Determination for Revolution,” which had been published a few months earlier in Minbao. During his interrogation, Wang proclaimed, “These essays were first written with ink, now I want to write them in blood.” Thirty years later, in the conclusion of “After the Telegram of 29 December 1938 (yandian)” Wang again mentioned “Determination for Revolution” and restated his pledge to use what remained of his self as a contribution to the Peace Movement. In a poem written in 1941, he referred to “cooking rice” as a metaphor for revolution, which was first explained in the final paragraph of “Determination for Revolution”:

“The courage to not fear death is achieved with strength, while the courage to not hide from trouble is achieved with single-minded virtue. Both kinds of courage are needed. To use cooking rice as a metaphor, firewood is needed to heat the cauldron that contains the rice. When the firewood starts to burn, it creates a roaring fire. In a blink of an eye, the firewood turns to ashes. Although physically gone, the expanded heat that the firewood creates is an essential element to cooking rice. The cauldron is also useful; it is not eroded by water and fire cannot melt it. With fire and water burning, the cauldron would not change when the rice is cooked, even though it suffers from the pain of heat. Revolutionaries! Are we prepared to be firewood or cauldron? That depends on each or our personalities, each of our best efforts. Using cooked rice as a metaphor for the outcome of the Revolution, those 400 million fellow Chinese who await for the Revolution to soothe their suffering are like hungry people who are waiting to be fed. Revolutionaries, whether you use your bodies as firewood or cauldron, when the rice is cooked, we can share it with the 400 million fellow Chinese!”

In 1947, while he was imprisoned for twelve years as a “cultural hanjian” (traitor to China) the great scholar Long Yusheng wrote “Determination for Revolution” on five pieces of paper glued together. At the beginning of this long scroll, Long offered an assessment of his good friend:

“Wang’s learning came from the tradition of Wang Yangming and carried on the tradition of Mencius. This sentiment and his will remained the same through the four or five decades [of Wang’s life]. From aggression [in youth] to persistence [in later years], he put aside what most people treasure: how his reputation would be affected. In spite of much difficulty, he died with his firm belief. His benevolence and humble will persist as the sun and the stars.”

“Determination for Revolution” illustrates Wang’s revolutionary principles and describes how the revolutionaries’s intent stems from Mencius’s view of innate ethical disposition: compassion for the pain and suffering, death and insult imposed on his fellowmen. The insignificant self would spare no effort to shoulder the world’s burdens until death. Such tenacity is unafraid of death; it does not dissipate amid riches and glory; it remains unmoved by poverty and lowliness, unbent under force. Unafraid of trouble, untempted by fame and fortune, the revolutionaries are bent on sharing the fruits of the Revolution with their fellow countrymen. Wang Jingwei used Mencius’s 「惻隱之心」 concept of compassion and Wang Yangming’s idea of 「良知」 innate benevolence as guidance for his personal conduct throughout his life.

Download〈革命之決心〉Geming de juexin “Determination for Revolution”

〈革命之決心〉Geming de juexin “Determination for Revolution”(1)

Determination for Revolution (1)

〈革命之決心〉Geming de juexin “Determination for Revolution”(2)

Determination for Revolution (2)

〈革命之決心〉Geming de juexin “Determination for Revolution”(3)

Determination for Revolution (3)

In 1910, while in prison for an attempt on the Prince Regent Zaifeng’s life, Wang Jingwei wrote the poem〈述懷〉 (“A recount of my vision and sentiments”) which describes his education and upbringing and the emotional journey of sacrificing his life for the Revolution. His 1934 “Autobiographical Sketch” is an expression of his viewpoints and arguments with a special mention of this poem. Similar to 〈革命之決心〉 “Determination for Revolution,” “A recount of my vision and sentiments” reveals Wang’s ideas and for the Revolution.


〈述懷〉Shuhuai (“A recount of my vision and sentiments”)

“A recount of my vision and sentiments”