100 Years of History Behind “Double Ten” Day of the R.O.C.

It’s Double Ten in Taiwan, a national holiday, but it’s also recognized in China, Hong Kong, and US Chinatowns. Read about the history behind Double Ten and why it’s not quite accurate to label it “Taiwan’s 100th birthday.”

Each year in Taiwan, October 10th is celebrated as the national day of the Republic of China (ROC). This year marks the centennial anniversary of “Double Ten” day in Taiwan, and this past year the government of Taiwan has been hosting multiple celebratory events leading up to this year’s holiday.

But do you know the history behind this day? Have you thought about why several Chinatown communities in the United States also celebrate “Double Ten” day with parades and fanfare? Why is it also recognized in Hong Kong and China? And have you heard some people mistakenly refer to this year’s event as celebrating “Taiwan’s 100th birthday?” After all, Taiwanese people have been on Taiwan, or Formosa, for hundreds of years (or thousands of years, if you consider the aboriginal groups).

Here’s a brief history behind the founding of the Republic of China, when it was first established in China leading to the government that now resides on Taiwan…

October 10, 1911 marked the beginning of the military Wuchang Uprising (aka the start of the Xinhai Revolution), as revolutionaries were upset over government corruption, the encroachment of foreign countries into China, and resentment over Manchu rule over Han Chinese. This day marked the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in China, thus ending thousands of years of imperial dynastic rule.

Sun Yat-sen, a Chinese doctor, revolutionary and political leader, played an influential role in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and served briefly as the first president of the Republic of China when it was founded on January 1, 1912. As a proponent of Chinese nationalism, he actually spent much time in the West, and in 1894, founded the Revive China Society in Honolulu, Hawaii. One of his key political philosophies was known as the “Three Principles of the People” and revolved around ideals of nationalism, democracy, and the people’s livelihood. When the Republic of China government was first established, its first national flag was the “Five-Colored Flag” (as shown in the left side header image) representing the five major nationalities of China: the Han (red), the Manchu (yellow), the Mongol (blue), the Hui (white), and the Tibetan (black). It’s interesting to note that Sun Yat-sen believed the flag to be inappropriate due to its horizontal color ordering reminiscent of hierarchical class rule. But for 15 years, this flag represented a modern “Republican” post-imperial China.

So how did the current day flag of the Republic of China come about? The design elements of the ROC flag actually existed before the Wuchang Uprising and the establishment of the ROC. The “Blue Sky with a White Sun” portion was a flag design itself and had been presented at a meeting of the Society for Regenerating China, an anti-Qing society based in Hong Kong, in February of 1895. This White Sun emblem would later be adopted by the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Kuomingtang (KMT), as its party flag and the Coat of Arms of the Republic of China. In 1906, the “red Earth” portion was added by Sun Yat-sen.

The period after the Wushang Uprising saw much political strife and power struggles. President Yuan Shikai assumed dictatorial powers in 1913 by dissolving the National Assembly and outlawing the KMT. When Sun Yat-sen established a government-in-exile in Tokyo, he employed the modern “Blue Sky, White Sun, and a Wholly Red Earth” flag as the national ROC flag. The KMT established a rival government in Guangzhou in 1917 and made this the official national flag on December 17, 1928. During this time, a newly established Communist Party of China (CPC), supported by the Soviets, struggled for power with the KMT. Starting in 1927, the Chinese Civil War was fought between the KMT and the CPC.

At the end of World War II in 1945, the government of the Republic of China lost control of mainland China and relocated to Taiwan in 1949, bringing with them over 1.5 million refugee civilians and soldiers, forever changing the face of Taiwan’s population of 7 million people at the time. The rest is history and the source of continued political debate, recognition, and international struggle across both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Now you know a brief history of why “Double Ten” day is now mainly celebrated in Taiwan, but also by supporters of the original “Republic” who fled to Hong Kong and Chinatowns in the United States. And in China, it’s still a day remembered as the start of the Xinhai Revolution associated with the “Father of the Nation,” Sun Yat-sen. What one is celebrating depends on which perspective you take.

Today in Taiwan, the official celebration starts with the raising of the flag of the ROC in front of the Presidential Building, followed by singing of the National Anthem. Until recent years, it included a military parade. As a national holiday off from work, festivities also include performances, lion dances, drum teams, and fireworks displays around major cities.

Enjoy the day off of work, but like all holidays, it’s good to know what it is you’re actually celebrating.

*Note: Edited on 10/10/13 the end of WWII date correction


To learn more about the history of the ROC’s flags:

To discover the history behind Double Ten Day:

To read more about the Wuchang Uprising:

To learn more about Sun Yat-sen:

13 Responses to “100 Years of History Behind “Double Ten” Day of the R.O.C.”

  1. eric chang

    Double Ten is nothing more than the KMT’s birthday, with this year being its 100th anniversary. To say that Taiwan is 100 years old is completely incorrect. One hundred years ago in Taiwan, it was the Japanese Occupation. Taiwan had no contact with the KMT (ROC) until they fled to Taiwan after 1949. After the KMT fled to Taiwan, the ROC ceased to exist as they were no longer in China. Unfortunately, Taiwan’s national flag is nothing more than the KMT party flag, and our national anthem is also not really our national anthem, but just the KMT’s anthem. Double Ten is used to brainwash Taiwanese into thinking that we are Chinese, which we are not. When people tell you 10/10 is Taiwan’s birthday, be sure to take the time to correct them.

  2. Jeffrey Lai

    While (some of) what eric chang says might be true, it doesn’t change the fact that KMT and millions of ex-Chinese and their descendants exist in Taiwan and are considered as Taiwanese today. Legally or not, ROC has been the official govement in Taiwan since 1945 after Japan surrendered it to KMT. Taiwan had very few options after the end of WW2 as both KMT and Communist Party consider it a province of China, and both US and Japan didn’t want it. If KMT hadn’t taken Taiwan, Communist surely would. We have all witnessed the differences in economy and personal freedom between China and Taiwan for the last 50 years. I as a Taiwanese consider myself lucky that it was KMT, and not Communist, who took Taiwan. Being brainwashed by KMT is a small price to pay for the democracy enjoyed by people in Taiwan today. Whether you consider it a brainwashing propaganda or not, Double-Ten day has been celebrated in Taiwan for decades and is now part of Taiwan’s culture. Taiwanese will just celebrate it as Taiwan’s birthday anyway. Happy birthday Taiwan!

  3. While (some of) what Jeffrey Lai says might be true, like the fact that both KMT and Communist Party consider Taiwan a province of China. The fact that Japan lost the war, has nothing to do with Japan wanting it or not. Japan was forced to surrender Taiwan to the US and the Allies.
    The only truth that we can be certain of is that: if the KMT hadn’t retreated from China to Taiwan. Taiwanese people would not have been oppressed by KMT, White Terror and 228 would not have happened. Also, Taiwan would not have been take over by China, since that’s exactly why the US allowed KMT into Taiwan. Just look at Korea. Finally, being brainwashed and oppressed by KMT is never an option for a “democratic” country. This is a perfect example why education and media reform is desperately needed for Taiwan to be a real democratic country.

  4. Saying Double Tenth is Taiwan’s birthday is an insult to Taiwan and to those who died by the oppression of the regime that celebrates the day.

  5. Jeffrey Lai

    Yes, if KMT had not occupied Taiwan I believe that US (or Soviet) would, just like what they did to Korea, Japan and north east China. However, don’t forget that their occupation were temporary. After they left, north east China was back to China, Korea was reinstated to an independent country, and Japanese main islands was returned to Japanese people. As for Taiwan, it had been officially ceded to Japanese Empire by China long ago and was considered a piece of Japanese territory. There were tens of thousands of Japanese there. What do you think US would do to it after the occupation ended? For those Taiwanese who think that it is better to be ruled by Japan today than by KMT after what Japanese Empire did in WW2, their brains were irreversibly washed by Japanese Empire.
    Today, KMT is just one of the political parties in Taiwan, and like all political parties its purpose is to “brainwash” citizens into believing what they believe. Taiwanese people directly elect their president and their legislators, enjoy freedom of speech. It is up to individual Taiwanese people whether to believe what KMT promote or not. If this is not considered democracy, what else can a democratic country offer?

  6. I’d say happy birthday kmt instead of happy birthday Taiwan.

  7. There’s also this.. It may a bit more relevant since it occurred at the end of WW2 and made KMT the official government of China.

  8. “Double Ten is used to brainwash Taiwanese into thinking that we are Chinese, which we are not.”

    Eric Chang, 98% of ROC citizens are Han Chinese, and your name leads me to believe that you are one of them. Advocating the desinicisation of Taiwan presents a danger to the perseverance of Chinese culture, and I implore you to reconsider.

  9. Double 10 is also celebrated in China as the Xinhai revolution day. So generally they have week vacation from 10/1-10/10. The marks the beginning of Republic and end of imperial rule in China.

    Did you know:

    1. Taiwanese democracy is based on the constitutions of Republic of China’s 3 people’s doctrine written by Sun-Yat Sen who based on it Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Sun-Yan Sen was greatly influence by Lincoln principle for racial equality when he was going to high school at Puhahoe High in Honolulu Hawaii – the same high school that produced US president Barak Obama.

    2. The introduction of the ROC constitutions to Taiwan also brought the concept of women’s suffrage – women’s right for citizenship, vote right to vote, and feminism in 1945. Before KMT take over, Taiwanese women were considered property by traditional Hoklo rule. Women did not have the right to inheritance. If a husband dies, women was passed as property to male member’s of family who inherited the properties. This happened in my family.

    Even though some people did not like the KMT/mainland Chinese coming to Taiwan; however, people should recognize that they should be credited for bringing the 1. a democratic constitution (admittingly not enacted until 1980s) and 2. women’s right protected by law.

  10. NicholasHoheisel

    As an American reading this, I find all of your comments to be helpful as it enables me to approach this subject from different perspectives. Thank you

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