Two men, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, promoted competing methods fulfill Sun’s vision of a united nationalist China. Both wanted to end foreign imperialism, modernize China’s military and economic system, industrialize, and unite the nation. Chiang attempted to use democracy to unify the nation. He talked about a temporary military dictatorship which would eventually yield to the democracy that Sun Yat-sen envisioned (Bohr, Chiang Kai-shek).
Mao followed a different interpretation of Sun Yat-sen’s principles. Mao put more emphasis on Sun’s principle of socialism. By making this the center of his program, Mao could talk about returning power to the people, even as he was consolidating power and centralizing the decision-making process.
Of course, neither of these paths led to any sort of representation. Both of them flawlessly synthesized Western ideas with China’s unique situation. Chiang “Sinified” German fascism while Mao adapted Russian Leninism, which allowed no more freedom than Chiang’s Chinese fascism (Bohr, Mao Zedong). The revolutionary programs of either Chiang or Mao could have united China. However, since they existed simultaneously, the battlefield would determine under which banner China would unite.