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China studies Maui’s ties to Dr. Sun Yat-sen

By Staff | May 12, 2011

From left, Chen Di Qiu, sub-editor of the Zhongshan Research Association of Dr. Sun Yat-sen; Dr. Busaba Yip; Victor Sun, honorary chairman of the Overseas Chinese Cultural Society of Zhongshan; and Robert Santos visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Museum in Zhongshan.

LAHAINA — On Nov. 12, 2010, the people of Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China, celebrated the 144th birthday of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

With their celebration, they launched a worldwide search for connections among overseas Chinese with Yat-sen’s 1911 revolution that led to the end of China’s feudalism and his presidency of the new Chinese Republic.

Dr. Busaba Yip and Robert Santos, representing the Wo Hing Society of Lahaina, traveled to Zhongshan, China, to attend the birthday celebration.

While there, they met with representatives of the Zhongshan Foreign and Overseas Chinese Bureau, as well as with Victor Sun, the great-grandson of Yat-sen’s older brother, Sun Mei.

A team of researchers from the Zhongshan Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau and the Zhongshan Daily Press recently spent two days on Maui to collect information about the contributions of Maui Chinese to the 1911 Revolution.

Here in Lahaina, representatives from Zhongshan, Honolulu, Wo Hing Society and Lahaina Restoration Foundation met at the Wo Hing Museum.

Maui played an important role in the life of Yat-Sen. His brother, Sun Mei, operated a 3,000-acre cattle ranch in Kamaole. He, as well as many other Chinese on Maui, provided financial support to the revolution.

The Wo Hing Society in Lahaina, started in 1900 or earlier, was a center for the Chinese community of West Maui. It primarily served as a “mutual aid society.”

Yip of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and historian Stanley Solamillo conducted preliminary research on the Wo Hing Society’s collections, which include 30 plaques and couplets, as well as some 2,000 written documents.

Their research indicates that a relationship existed between Maui’s Chinese and Dr. Yat-sen.

In addition, there is evidence that Wo Hing Society members supported his 1911 Chinese revolution.

This research project was funded by a National Park Service-certified local government grant that was provided to Maui County through the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division.