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What were the key features of the Warlord Period? L/O – To identify the causes, events and significance of the Warlord Period in China, 1916 -1927
What was the Warlord Period? • The Warlord Period in China was a period of anarchy and civil war between 1916 -1927. • On the death of Yüan Shikai China was ruled by coalitions of his ex-generals, who ruled parts of China in ‘cliques’ and ‘factions’. • Loyalties constantly shifted between these factions in an attempt to dominate China. • China was finally re-unified in 1927 by the United Front – a coalition of Kuomintang and Communist Party forces, supported by the USSR. Yüan Shikai (袁世�)
Yüan Shikai’s Legacy • Yüan Shikai’s attempts to restore the monarchy in 1916 divided politics in China. • Southern revolutionaries like Sun Yat-sen formed a ‘Military Affairs Council’ to oppose Yüan and protect the 1912 Republican Constitution. Northern generals generally supported Yüan and his new 1914 Constitution. • When Yüan died in June 1916, he left behind a China that was divided. A weak central government failed to enforce its rule in the provinces, which were controlled by Yüan’s old generals – they began to rule as warlords. Yüan Shikai (袁世�) Sun Yat-sen (孫中山)
Formation of a New Government • Vice-President Li Yuanhong took over the Presidency on 7 th June 1916. Feng Guozhang was made Vice-President. Duan Qirui was made Premier. • This created a new conflict – would the new President rule in accordance with Yüan’s 1914 Constitution or according to Sun Yat-sen’s 1912 Constitution? • Southern nationalists supported the 1912 Constitution whereas Premier Duan Qirui and other northern republicans supported the 1914 Constitution. Li Yuanhong 黎元洪 Feng Guozhang �国璋 Duan Qirui 段祺瑞
Formation of a New Government • It appeared as if a new war would start. However it was solved when the naval commander of Shanghai declared independence on 25 th June 1916. • Supported by Vice-President Feng Guozhong, President Li was forced to restore the original 1912 Constitution. Feng Guozhang �国璋 • On 1 st August, the old national assembly that had been dissolved by Yüan Shikai was re-established. The revolutionaries Li Yuanhong 黎元洪 then dissolved their ‘Military Affairs Council’. China was re-united again.
New Government, New Conflicts • In the new government, President Li was weak and easily manipulated. Real power lied with the Premier, Duan Qirui, who was the most powerful northern Beiyang general. • In May 1917, Duan wanted China to declare war on Germany, hoping to improve China’s international influence. • He was opposed by President Li and Vice -President Feng Guozhang. Duan now attempted to outmanoeuvre them. Duan Qirui 段祺瑞 Li Yuanhong 黎元洪 Feng Guozhang �国璋
New Government, New Conflicts • Duan declared war on Germany on 14 th May 1917, without Parliamentary or Presidential approval. • He then pressurised parliament into signing the declaration of war, using 3000 of his supporters to surround parliament. Duan Qirui 段祺瑞 • He also got his generals and military supporters to demand that President Li dissolve Parliament. In reply, Parliament Li Yuanhong 黎元洪 urged the President to dismiss Duan! On 23 rd May 1917, President Li dismissed Duan.
New Government, New Conflicts • In reply, Duan’s northern supporters declared independence – Shaanxi, Shanxi, Zhejiang, Shandong, Zhili, Fujian. • They organised a military headquarters at Tientsin and marched on Beijing. In desperation, President Li turned to the military governor of Anhui, Zhang Xun who came to Beijing with 5000 soldiers. • On 7 th June, Zhang arrived but demanded that President Li dissolve Parliament. Li had no choice and illegally dissolved Parliament on 12 th June 1917. Zhang Xun ��
The Manchu Restoration Zhang Xun �� • Now holding power in Beijing, Zhang worked with Kang Youwei to restore the Qing Dynasty. They restored Puyi to the throne on 1 st July 1917. • Qing institutions were revived, along with appointments and ranks. Zhang appointed himself Chief Minister and replaced the warlord Cao Kun as Governor General of Zhili province. Kang Youwei 康有為 Emperor Puyi 溥儀 Duan Qirui 段祺瑞 • Duan Qirui and Cao Kun then united and marched on Beijing, defeating the 20, 000 strong army of Zhang Xun on 12 th July - the restoration movement was destroyed. Cao Kun 曹�
The Constitution Protection Movement • Duan Qirui was now back in power as Premier. Feng Gouzhang was made President but lacked power. Liang Qichao 梁启超 • Supported by Liang Qichao and the ‘Research Clique’, Duan called for a new constitution and provisional parliament. • This upset the southern revolutionaries who believed he should have reconvened the old parliament. • In response, Sun Yat-sen established a military government in Guangzhou, styling itself the ‘Constitution Protection Movement’. Duan Qirui 段祺瑞
The Rise of Duan Qirui • Duan now sought to crush domestic opposition. He manipulated the new provisional parliament into amending the election laws of the 1912 Constitution. • Through his political faction, the ‘An-fu Club’, he dominated over 2/3 of the votes in the August 1918 election. Duan Qirui 段祺瑞 • He used this majority to pass a resolution declaring war on Germany on 14 th August. This enabled him to negotiate the ‘Nishihara loan’ of 145 million Yen from Japan – using the money to fund an army to attack the south.
Splits in the Beiyang Clique • With this new support, he sent troops to attack the southern provinces of the Constitution Protection Movement. Feng Guozhang �国璋 • However President Feng Guozhang and the General Wu Peifu disagreed with this – hoping for a peaceful resolution. • Their disagreements split the ‘Beiyang Clique’ into two: • Anhui Clique – led by Premier Duan Qirui • Zhili Clique – led by Cuo Kun and Wu Peifu after the death of President Feng Guozhong in 1919 Wu Peifu 吴佩孚
First Zhili-Fengtien War • When Duan’s campaign against the Southern Revolutionaries failed, he was forced to resign on 22 nd November 1918. He blamed the Zhili Clique for the defeat which was now led by Cuo Kun. Cao Kun 曹� • In 1920, fighting broke out between the two cliques. However the Zhili Clique won, having gained support from the ‘Fengtien Clique’ of Manchuria, led by Zhang Zoulin. • In April 1922, fighting broke out between these two allies, with the Zhili Clique winning, although Zhang Zoulin retained control of Manchuria. Zhang Zoulin �作霖
Splits amongst the Zhili Clique • In an attempt an national unification, the Zhili Clique appointed Li Yuanhung as President for the second time on 11 th June 1922. Li Yuanhong 黎元洪 • However! The Zhili Clique were split on this appointment: • The Tientsin-Paoting Faction - wanted Cao Kun as President. • The Lo-Yang Faction – led by Wu Peifu wanted Li Yuanhung as President. Cao Kun 曹�
Second Zhili-Fengtien War • Due to these disagreements, President Li was forced out of office again in June 1923, having ruled for only a year. Cao Kun 曹� • In October, Cao Kun had himself elected President by bribing over 500 members of the Parliament with 5000 Chinese dollars each. • This disgusted many in China. The Fengtien Clique in Manchuria marched on Peking which precipitated the Second Zhili-Fengtien War. Zhang Zoulin �作霖
The Collapse of the Zhili Clique • The war began with Commander-in. Chief Wu Peifu leading his 170, 000 army out to meet the Fengtien forces. • On his way to the front, his third army commander, Feng Yuxiang – the ‘Christian General’, mutinied and occupied Beijing on 23 rd October 1924. • This led to the total collapse of Zhili forces! Feng and his ‘National People’s Army’ re-organised the government, forcing Cao Kun out of power on 2 nd November 1924. Feng Yuxiang �玉祥
Attempts at Re-unification • In a final attempt at national unification, the National People’s Army and the Anhwei Clique asked Duan Qirui to become Chief Executive (acting President) of a provisional government. • They also invited Sun Yat-sen to Peking to discuss peace. Sun arrived on 31 st December 1924. Over 100, 000 people celebrated his arrival. Duan Qirui 段祺瑞 • However he realised that Duan’s attempts at reconciliation were insincere. He died on 12 th March 1925, a disappointed and dejected man. His last words were, ‘Peace, struggle…save China’. Sun Yat-sen (孫中山)
The Impact of the Warlord Period • For many Chinese historians, the Warlord Period represented the classic period of anarchy that often followed the collapse of a dynasty. • Warlords exploited the competition for power between Sun Yat-sen’s Nationalist Government in Guangzhou and the supposedly Republican government in Beijing. • However a clear north/south divide emerged. Southern warlords generally supported Sun Yat-sen and the Nationalists. Northern warlords supported the Republicans in Beijing.
Positive Features of the Warlord Period • Economic – Some warlords like Zhang Zoulin in Manchuria promoted industrial development. The absence of central control enabled local industries to flourish. • Political – The chaos intensified nationalist feelings in China. Intellectuals were unified in their hatred of the warlords which gave direction to new revolutionary movements like the CCP and KMT. • Cultural – The chaos also gave the New Culture Movement a common sense of grievance and provided a causes around which the Chinese could unite.
Discussion Questions • Were the Warlords a symptom of China’s weakness or the cause of China’s weakness? • To what extent was the Warlord Period a result of Yuan Shikai’s rule? • Were all Warlords a negative influence on China or did some try to improve their regions? • Were there any positive aspects to Warlord rule? • Could the Warlord Period have been avoided?