Towards the Republic

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Towards the Republic
Towards the Republic.jpg
DVD cover art
Also known as 'For the Sake of the Republic'
Genre Historical drama
Directed by Zhang Li
Starring Wang Bing
Lü Zhong
Sun Chun
Ma Shaohua
Li Guangjie
Ending theme Zouxiang Gonghe (走向共和) performed by Xu Peidong and Song Zuying
Composer(s) Xu Peidong
Country of origin China
Original language(s) Mandarin
No. of episodes 60 (full version)
59 (censored version)
Executive producer(s) Luo Hao
Liu Wenwu
Feng Ji
Producer(s) Gao Jianmin
Location(s) China
Running time 45 minutes per episode
Original network CCTV
First shown in 2003
Towards the Republic
Chinese 走向共和
Literal meaning Advancing towards a Republic

Towards the Republic, also known as For the Sake of the Republic and Zou Xiang Gong He, is a Chinese historical television series first broadcast on CCTV in China from April to May 2003.[1][2] The series is based on events that occurred in China between the late 19th century and early 20th century that led to the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the founding of the Republic of China.[3] Owing to its portrayal of historical issues deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government, the series has been subject to censorship in mainland China.[1][3]


The series features some important events of the late Qing dynasty and Republican era in the late 19th century and early 20th century in China, such as the First Sino-Japanese War, the Hundred Days' Reform, the Boxer Rebellion and the Xinhai Revolution.

The series narrates historical events and portrays the private lives of key political figures such as Li Hongzhang, the Guangxu Emperor, Yuan Shikai and Sun Yat-sen. There are monarchists, reformers and revolutionaries who provide different answers to addressing the deteriorating situation of the Qing dynasty but all these answers point towards a common goal – to restore China as a sovereign, international and independent power.


Lead roles[edit]

Supporting roles[edit]


The politically sensitive issues which likely triggered the heavy censorship of the series included issues such as the more sympathetic and complex portrayal of Empress Dowager Cixi, Yuan Shikai and Li Hongzhang, who are usually portrayed in a negative light in official Chinese historiography.[2][3] Historically accurate but politically inconvenient quotes, such as Sun Yat-sen's speech on inequality and the suppression of democracy, were cut from the series.[1][3]

The censorship has significantly reduced the length of some episodes. The final episode was cut to nearly half of its original duration of 50 minutes, and the series was reorganised from scripted 60 to aired 59 episodes. The censors also blocked plans for a rerun.[2][3][4] The censorship, however, did not prevent the international distribution of the series on VCD and DVD (these versions also suffered less from censorship than the version aired on CCTV).[4]


The series has been very popular in China.[2][4] The debate caused by the series, as well as its censorship and issues for discussion, have been compared to a similar event in 1988 involving another documentary television series River Elegy. River Elegy drew criticism for presenting a controversial view on Chinese culture, and is seen as a factor that influenced the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.[3] Issues raised in discussions include questions on the extent to which artists are permitted to reinterpret history, and the degree to which certain portrayal of historical figures and events is dictated by politics rather than science.[4] As a consequence of the controversy caused by this series, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China began an analysis of "the accuracy with which historical figures are represented in television dramas".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Commemorating China's 1911 revolution: From Sun to Mao to now". The Economist. 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Richard Kraus (2004). "CHINA IN 2003: From SARS to Spaceships". Asian Survey. 44 (1): 147–157. doi:10.1525/as.2004.44.1.147. JSTOR 4128574. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "China: Rewriting history". The Economist. 2003-06-19. Retrieved 2011-10-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d Representations of History in Chinese Film and Television

Further reading[edit]

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