Over the course of the 20th century, ever since the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912 and during the dying days of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) before that, Chinese politicians have played a major role in their country’s development. The likes of Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), who served as president of the Republic of China (1912-1949), were revolutionaries, reformers, and fervent nationalists.
However, since the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950) which resulted in the founding of the People’s Republic of China – still in power today – politicians have tended to be characterised and defined less by their great rhetoric and charisma, but as either reformers or conservatives in the spheres of both their economic and political views. This is especially true for 21st Century politicians who now are more businessmen and bureaucrats rather than the orators or revolutionaries of the past.
It is these orators, characters, and figureheads from China’s revolutionary history that feature prominently on collectable commemorative Chinese coins. These politicians come mainly from the revolutionary days of both the Republic of China – such as Sun Yat-sen and Song Qingling (1890-1981) – and the revolutionary figureheads of the People’s Republic of China – such as the “Big Five” revolutionary leaders during the Chinese Civil War. These include Mao Zedong (1893-1976), Liu Shaoqi (1898-1969), Chen Yun (1905-1995), and Zhou Enlai (1898-1976). Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997), considered the man who brought China out of the chaos of the Cultural Revolution and who laid the foundations for China’s economic success today, also features on these coins.