American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokesperson Sheila Paskman yesterday said a US government document from 1904 showed that Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and that Sun had been issued a document showing that he was a US citizen — claims the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) quickly denied.
During an interview with the Central News Agency, Paskman said that to celebrate the centenary of the ROC this year, the AIT had planned a special exhibition with Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in conjunction with US celebrations of its Independence Day.
In the process, she said, a document from 1904 was unearthed in the US National Archives stating that the US had given Sun legal status as a US citizen.
The document will be on display at the “Special Exhibition of Sun Yat-sen and the US” on July 4, Paskman said, adding that whether Sun’s birth certificate which shows he was born in Honolulu would be included was under negotiation.
Paskman said that while looking for information on Sun, she came across data showing Sun had once attended Oahu College, now called Punahou School, of which US President Barack Obama is an alumnus.
Most history textbooks state that Sun was born on Nov. 12, 1866, in Cuiheng Village, Xiangshan County, Guangdong Province, China.
Commenting on the revelation yesterday, Shao Ming-huang (邵銘煌), director of the KMT’s -department of history, said that even if the US had legal documents showing Sun was a US citizen, it would not change the fact that Sun was born in Guangdong.
Shao said 1904 was a decade after Sun founded the Hsing Chung Hui, or the Revive China Society, and launched his revolution to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.
The revolution ran into difficulties and Sun was faced with the prospect of being arrested in China, Shao said.
With the US Chinese Exclusion Act severely limiting Chinese immigration, Sun had difficulty entering the US and was even detained by US authorities at one point, Shao said.
Sun’s detention prompted an overseas Chinese to say that if Sun wanted to promote a Chinese -revolution on US soil, it would be best if he had US citizenship, Shao said.
Sun’s friends in San Francisco set in motion plans for him to obtain US citizenship by faking a birth certificate showing that he was born in Honolulu, Shao said.
Sun asked for a birth certificate from Hawaii because he had lived and studied there in his early teens, Shao said, adding that the date on the birth certificate — Nov. 24, 1870 — was chosen to reflect the founding date of the Hsing Chung Hui to establish a connection with his revolutionary activities.
“It was a makeshift plan for the good of the revolution and it does not change where Sun was born,” Shao said.
TRANSLATED BY JAKE CHUNG, STAFF WRITER