By the time the Republic of China was founded, the terms 民主國 and 共和國 had been firmly established as translations for the English term "republic". Despite that, founder Sun Yat-sen insisted on using 民國, for he believed the new China was all about the people.

Both 民主國 and 共和國 were derived from preexistent concepts in ancient China but with a new meaning, "republic":

  • 民主: (classical Chinese) "the emperor, master of the people"

=> (19th-century Chinese) "the president, leader of the people"; 民主(之)國 "a (democratic) republic"; 臺灣民主國 "the Republic of Formosa/Taiwan"

=> (20th-century Japanese) 民主政躰 minshu-seitai "a democracy"

=> (19th-century Japanese) 共和政治 "the cooperative and harmonious non-monarchical governance of the United States"; 共和政治州 "the United States"

=> (20th-century Japanese) 共和國 kyōwa-koku / 共和政躰 kyōwa-seitai "a republic"

I wonder whether 民國 is also attested in classical texts and was given a new meaning by Sun Yat-sen, or wholly invented by him.

  • just want to add: 共和 has been seen as far back as zhou dynasty to refer to a few decades between emperors. compare to terms like democracy which were loan words into chinese before there modern forms found use.
    – zagrycha
    Feb 6, 2023 at 19:39
  • @zagrycha "共和 has been seen as far back as zhou dynasty" I know, I did state exactly that in my question. What are you trying to add here? Also, the Zhou dynasty predates Qin Shi Huang, so there was no such thing as an "emperor" because Qin Shi Huang was the first mortal to claim that title, 皇帝. Feb 7, 2023 at 0:12
  • @Vun-HughVaw I applogize, you are correct. I wrote emperor without thinking, but it should be between kings. I meant to add that the term was meant to mean republic that long ago. 歷史上稱周厲王出奔後到周宣王即位之前, 由周公和召公共同執政(或以為由共伯和執政)的十四年為「共和」(841B.C.-828B.C.)。
    – zagrycha
    Feb 7, 2023 at 5:28
  • 1
    @user3528438 According to this paper, Minguk in Korean could have been directly derived from the Chinese term. The Republic of Korea was established in exile within the Republic of China. It also appeared to be an easy substitute for the old name: Daehan Jeguk (Great Han Emperor's State) > Daehan Minguk (Great Han People's State). Jul 19, 2023 at 21:51

3 Answers 3


由来 1905年,中华民国国父孙中山在中国同盟会《中国同盟会盟书》提出“驱除鞑虏,恢复中华,创立民国,平均地权”的革命纲领,将未来推翻满清后的中国命名为“中华民国”。 其中,“中华”代表中华民族,“民”代表主权在于全体国民。


Based on this document, 民 means people or citizens. It is translated into Republic of China. Not democracy.


Mr. Sun overthrew the Emporer system and promoted the new idea. 民國 is the abbreviation of 主共和 - 中華民國是 辛亥革命 以後建立的亞洲第一個 主共和 ,簡稱民國. - https://baike.baidu.hk/item/%E4%B8%AD%E8%8F%AF%E6%B0%91%E5%9C%8B/424683#

  • I thought 中华民国 was the full name of the country, as was shown on many occassions, for example, words on the coins of that time, words used in the local news media of Taiwan after 1949. Did they really ever use 中华民主共和国 for that? Jul 7, 2023 at 9:49
  • 1
    @NanningYouth There were several names suggested before finally voted for the formal name, pushed by 孫中山, of 中华民国., xx民主共和國 was one of the suggested names.
    – r13
    Jul 7, 2023 at 15:30
  • 1. The Sun citation provided by the link of the OP and contained in the baike link (under 国号) explicitly states that Mínguó is not an abbreviation but made up independently from 民 and 國. 2. That still does not answer the question whether Sun Yat-Sen was the first to use this word.
    – Dodezv
    Jul 12, 2023 at 7:40


由孙中山先生领导的中国国民党先建立了中华民国,在抗日战争结束后,中国国民党的军队和中国共产党的军队发生了内战,最终结果是毛泽东先生领导的中国共产党打败了蒋介石先生领导的中国国民党, 蒋介石先生领导的中国国民党不得以退至现在的台湾(当时有几个地方作为备选的退至点,最终选择了退至台湾,选择台湾是出于台湾和中国大陆之间有台湾海峡可以作为天然的屏障,利用这个天然的屏障可以阻碍中国共产党军队的进攻). 在1949年10月1号毛泽东先生宣布建立中华人民共和国中央人民政府,中华民国只能在台湾落脚发展了.

到现在可以说 中国国民党中国共产党 的历史恩怨还没有结束 ......

具体可以看链接中华民国 and 中国共产党.

  • 2
    "孙中山先生不得以退至现在的台湾". 事實是"蔣中正(介石)退守台灣" :)
    – r13
    Jul 11, 2023 at 11:34
  • @r13 错了,我改下,感谢指正,哈哈哈哈
    – Tom
    Jul 11, 2023 at 13:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.