Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), a revolutionary and considered the founding father of the Republic of China (ROC) and the layer of the foundations for the revolution resulting in the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), was the first president of the ROC from 29th December 1911 to 10th March 1912 and the first leader of the Kuomintang (KMT) nationalist party from 1919 to 1925.
As a revolutionary leader, Sun Yat-sen was critical to the success of the Xinhai Revolution which ultimately overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It is for this and his Three Principles of the People (being nationalism, democracy, and the livelihood of the people) that he is perhaps best remembered and revered.
While he was a successful revolutionary leader, his subsequent political career was far from successful as he quickly fell from power from the newly formed ROC having failed to consolidate power from the warlords who now ruled much of China. Unfortunately, his death came before his party successfully consolidated their power during the Northern Expedition of 1926-1928.
Sun Yat-sen is perhaps unique among Chinese politicians as he is a popular figure both in Taiwan and on the Chinese mainland, even to the extent that there is almost a cult following of his legacy. The Taiwanese see him as the “father of a nation”, while the Chinese on the mainland consider that his political ideology and revolutionary spirit make him the “forerunner of democratic revolution” which resulted in the establishment of the PRC.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Sun Yat-sen features prominently and consistently on commemorative Chinese coins ahead of other Chinese politicians. Several series of coins have been produced which commemorate him, namely 1986, 1993, and 1996. His image is also featured on coins from the 70th and 80th Anniversary of the 1911 Revolution commemorative series.