Ireland’s and China’s Independence Struggles

Sometimes it may take a stretch of the imagination to find historic connections between Ireland and China as the two are far from being next door neighbours and while one is tiny the other is huge and a world power.

Yet both were striving to free themselves from foreign control and become independent republics at the same time and their struggles were a source of mutual encouragement.

The ‘Wuchang Uprising’ on 10 October 1911, which launched the Chinese movement, was reported in the Irish papers on 24 October of the same year as an inspiring example of a ‘National Awakening.’

I have noted already the influence Terence MacSwiney’s hunger strike in 1920 had on the Chinese revolutionary poet, Guo Moruo.

The involvement of Irish priests and Sisters in China from 1918 onwards brought regular news of political and social development in China to Irish homes through the ‘Far East’ mission magazine. Their presence in China also made Chinese officials aware of the fact that Ireland was not to be considered as part of England and that the Irish were not British.

Both China and Ireland had high hopes of getting their independence recognised at the post- World War l Paris Peace Conference of 1919 but the wishes of the Great Powers had preference.

More details of this ‘revolutionary’ interaction were given by Dr Aglaia De Angeli of Queen’s University at the China symposium in the Royal Irish Academy last April.

Today the links between Ireland and China are continued, not least by the Irish teachers going to China with groups like AITECE who interact with third level students and their appetite to learn about other countries and the way they manage their affairs.

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