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  1. #11
    Yuanwanted to be the new emperor

    On the 4thof November, Yuan gave an order to disband the national Party, usingtheir rebellion as a pretext. Simultaneously, he drove all themembers of the national Party out of the congress. On the 10thof January, 1914, Yuan dismissed the congress entirely and formed hisown council of state, which meant that all the members were his men.He was still dissatisfied with being president. He wanted to beemperor.
    To attain his goal, hefirst had to get international support. In January of 1915, Japansecretly gave Yuan a document containing 21 articles in 5 chapters,through which China should cede to Japan a variety of economic andcommercial rights and benefits, such as options on railroads andother profitable fields in Manchuria, and in Shandong province, andalso the extension of Japan’s occupation of Luushun and Dalian (twoharbor cities) to 99 years, etc. But two articles in particular wereunacceptable. One was to employ Japanese advisors in the Chinesecentral government, in the financial and military fields. The otherwas to employ Japanese advisors in local police departments. Thenegotiations ran from the 2ndof February to the 7thof May.
    Yuan accepted most of thearticles in order to secure Japan’s support for his ambition to beemperor. But such a big secret could not be kept for long and soonthe public heard that he was selling them out. Yuan was severelycriticized, but to no avail.
    Then Yuan’s supportersbegan to circulate their theory that the republican form ofgovernment was not suitable to China. They formed a committee on thepolitical future of China and sent out their men to all the provincesto persuade officials and officers and businessmen to support Yuan asemperor, promising all of them personal benefits. Then suchsupporters were summoned to the capital as “people’srepresentatives.” Those representatives formed groups and on the1st of Septemberhanded a petition to the Council of State organized by Yuan) to askYuan to be the emperor.

  2. #12
    In atraditional show of modesty, Yuan initially refused their petition.On the 19th, theyorganized the “National Petition Committee” to turn in a secondpetition, this time requesting that the 1993 people’srepresentatives should hold a conference to decide the future of thenation. Accordingly, the conference was in session at 9 o’clock inthe morning on December 11. The representatives were to cast votes.All the representatives voted for imperial system. Yuan graciouslyaccepted the result as the supposed will of the people, and decidedthat the next year (1916) would be the first year of his Empire ofChina.


    In December, just afterYuan accepted the petition, Cai E, the governor of YunNan province,was the first to object. He announced the independence of YunNan,followed by many provinces. Even Yuan’s former subordinates, FengGuozhang (1859–1916), governor of Jiangsu province, Li Chun,governor of Jiangxi province, Zhu Rui, governor of Zhejiang province,Jin Yunpeng, governor of Shandong province, and Tang Xiangming,governor of Hunan province, all sent telegrams asking Yuan to rescindthe empire.

  3. #13
    Seeing that even hisformer subordinates had betrayed him, Yuan had to declare openly thathe was rescinding the empire and restoring the presidency on the 22ndof March, 1916. He had been Emperor only for 83 days. Once a highmilitary official of the Qing Dynasty, he had turned against theempire, and then he was subverted in turn. He contracted a fataldisease and died on the 6thof June.
    If he had not been soambitious and had contented himself with the presidency, Yuan wouldhave been spared the hatred of almost all the people in China. Hewould not have been betrayed by his closest generals, who commandedpart of his new army. But he went against the historical tide,against the will of people. He wanted to turn back time to theimperial age. As a president, his subordinates only had to stand upbefore him and salute him, whereas during his heady days as emperor,his subordinates had to kneel before him and kowtow to him. Any manwho has had a chance to stand up never wants to bend his knees again.Sense of dignity.
    There would have to be apublic funeral for Yuan. According to the law, when the presidentdied, the vice president would succeed him. So Li Yuanhong became thepresident. Also, as a rule, the public funeral for a deceasedpresident should be led by the succeeding president. But Li had alittle problem with Yuan, for Yuan had imprisoned Li. That made itrather hard for Li to feign any esteem of Yuan. So on the day of thefuneral, he just went there to bow once and left, back to his office.As etiquette required, he should have bowed at least three times.Then the Premier Duan Qirui took over the role.

  4. #14
    Restorationof the abdicated emperor

    Li and Duan had alsoclashed. Their opinions and political attitudes were different. As Lihad no supporters in the government, Duan had no respect for him.Duan also had command of part of the new army. So Li sought supportoutside the capital.
    In May of 1917, during the First World War,there was a dispute about whether China would join in the war or not.Duan, supported by Japan, was in favor of joining the war, while Liand most of the congressmen thought it better not to join the war. Onthe 23rd of May,Li issued an order to remove Duan from the office of premier. Duanwent to Tianjin City and instigated all the governors to declareindependence. So Li summoned General Zhang Xun (1854–1923) to thecapital to mediate.
    Zhang Xun was still loyal to the Qing Dynastyand the soldiers in his army still maintained their queues. So hisarmy was called the pigtail army. He thought that this was a greatopportunity and took five thousand soldiers with him. On the 14thof June, he entered Peking. On the night of the 30thof June, he sent his soldiers to occupy strategic points like therailway station and telegraph office. He went to see Li and tried topersuade him to return the political power to the abdicated emperorFu Yi, by now using the Western name of Henry, but got a flatrefusal.
    On the 1stof July, 1917, Zhang Xun let the abdicated emperor sit on the throneagain and issue a few orders, such as to change the national flagfrom the five-colored flag (the symbol of Republic of China) todragon flag (the symbol of the Qing Dynasty).

  5. #15
    On the 2ndof July, Li went to the Japanese embassy for protection while issuingtwo orders: appointing Feng Guozhang as the deputy president andrestored Duan to the office of the premier. So on the 3rdof July, Duan gathered his army, and on the 14thday, he defeated Zhang Xun’s pigtail army. Zhang Xun escaped to theDutch embassy, then went to live in Tianjin City. The Emperorabdicated once more. And Duan went to the Japanese embassy to welcomeLi back to his presidency. On the 28thof August, Li went to Tianjin City after resigning.
    Thus, in the early historyof the Republic of China, there were two restorations. One was underYuan Shikai, who wanted to be emperor himself and founded the Empireof China. The other was Zhang Xun, who put the abdicated emperor onthe throne again. But both quickly ended in failure. The chariot ofhistory always runs forward and no one can pull it back. People won’tgo back to the old life style once they start to enjoy a new one,especially one that offers more freedom and dignity.
    As Li Yuanhong resigned from the presidency,the deputy president Feng Guozhang became the president. Feng was thegovernor of Jiangsu province and lived in Nanking. Now he was thepresident and had to take up office in Peking. That left the positionof governor of Jiangsu province vacant. Duan wanted to appoint DuanZhigui as the governor there, but Feng wanted to appoint Li Chun, thepresent governor of Jiangxi province as the governor of Jiangsuprovince. He promoted Chen Guangyuan, who was the commander of thetwelfth division, to be the governor of Jiangxi province. Both weresupporters of Feng. Before he left for Peking, he divided his armyinto two divisions. The sixteenth division would stay in Jiangsuprovince. He brought his fifteenth division to Peking as hisbodyguard so that he wouldn’t be controlled by Duan.
    Duan dismissed the old congress because most of thecongressmen had opposed him on the question of joining in the FirstWorld War. Since there was no more congress, the Duan governmentdeclared war against Germany and Austria.

  6. #16
    May4 student movement

    On the 23rdof August, 1914, Japan declared war against Germany and took overJiaozhou Bay in Shandong province, formerly occupied by Germany. Theyfought for 70 days. Then in January 1915, Japan had put the 21articles to Yuan, who accepted most of them. These were considered anational insult, which caused great dissatisfaction with thegovernment among Chinese intellectuals, including universitystudents.
    China declared war against Germany on the 14thof August, 1917, actually at the end of the First World War, so thatChina was one of the victorious countries. But at the Paris PeaceConference, which produced the Versailles Treaty, Japan was allowedto continue its occupation of Jiaozhou Bay, which should have beenreturned to China since it was in the territory of China and formerlywas occupied by Germany.
    The public called upon the Chinese representative atthe conference to refuse to sign on the treaty, but the governmentsecretly instructed the representative to go ahead and sign it. Whenthe news became openly known, the students at Peking University heldan emergency meeting on the 1stof May. On the night of the 3rdday, students from other universities joined in the action. Theydecided to hold a demonstration on TianAnMen Square on the 4thof May, which was Sunday. Thus began the May 4 movement.
    At one o’clock in the afternoon, the studentsmarched towards the neighborhood where all the embassies were anddistributed copies of a memorandum, which was refused by all theembassies except the American one. Then they went to the residence ofCao Rulin, minister of transportation (to complain about the railwayproblem with Japan), where they saw Zhang Zongxiang, the Chineseambassador to Japan. The students gave both a good beating and setfire to the residence. For that, 32 students were arrested.
    To rescue the students, the professors called on thepublic to declare a strike of all students, teachers, workers, andshop-owners. The government forbade it and arrested more people. Thechaos lasted into June; people answered the call of the professorsand the movement spread to many cities. Even railway workers startedto strike. On the 11thof June, Professor Chen Duxiu (1879–1942) and others distributedpamphlets in public, and Chen was arrested. The chaos worsened. Undersuch pressure, the government had to give in. It dismissed Cao andZhang from office and released those in jail. On the 28thof June, the representative attending the Paris Peace Conference didnot sign the treaty.
    This movement wasinfluential not only in politics, but also in culture. Many changeswere introduced. Professor Hu Shih proposed that language as spokenshould be used in writing instead of the classical language. Hence,the language style in use was changed, even in newspapers. So the May4 movement is also called the new cultural movement.

  7. #17
    Battlesin the southwestern provinces

    Chinese historians definethe men who command independent armies as warlords. In many periodsthis included the governors of provinces, and even premiers likeDuan, who had his own army. The local warlords often disobeyed thecentral government. If the central government wanted any governor toobey its orders, it had to send an army to defeat him. And theprovincial governors often fought one another to increase their powerbase. As a result, many periods of history were fraught with turmoil.
    Although Yuan Shikai died,his former supporters controlled most provinces. Only five provincesin southwestern China were under the influence of the national Party.They were Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
    In Sichuan province therewere three armies. One came from Yunnan province. One came fromGuizhou province. And the third one was formed of local soldiers.Each of them wanted to take control of Sichuan province and theyfought one another from time to time. Premier Duan of the centralgovernment wanted to control this province, too. So he sent adetachment of his army to Sichuan province. Then, the three localarmies united to fight against Duan’s army, which had to retreat.
    After the failure of thesecond revolution, Sun Yat-sen endeavored to make another attempt. Hegained the support of the Navy’s First Fleet. In 1917, the governorof Guangdong province proposed to Sun that he could use this provinceas his headquarters against the warlord government in Peking. On the10th of July, Suntook two warships to Shantou Town and sent Zhang Binglin to Guangdongprovince as his representative. The situation in that province wascomplicated, though. On the 17th,when Sun arrived in Canton on board a warship, he was welcomed. Onthe 22nd day, thecommander of the First Fleet brought his fleet to Guangdong province,too. They announced that since the dismissal of the Congress, anyorders from the Peking government were unlawful.

  8. #18
    When Duan learned thenews, he promoted the commander of the Second Fleet to be thecommander of the navy and appointed another admiral as commander ofthe First Fleet, which was not under his control any more. On the25th day Duanordered to remove the governor of Guangdong province from office, butthe governor refused to recognize the order.
    Sun Yat-sen invited thecongressmen to come south. In mid-August, more than 130 congressmenarrived in Canton. On the 18th,at a welcome party, all the attendees agreed to organize a newmilitary government, which was founded on the 10thof September. When Duan heard of this, he issued a “wanted”bulletin for Sun Yat-sen, and the military government also issued a“wanted” bulletin for Duan. The five provinces in thesoutheastern China supported the military government against Duan,who sent his army into Hunan province in hopes of defeating the armyof the military government.
    On the 6thof October, two armies engaged in battle near Xiangtan Town. Contraryto Duan’s hopes, his army was forced to withdraw. It looked bad forhim, and many provinces announced their support for the militarygovernment. Duan had to resign as premier.
    President Feng called uponboth sides to stop fighting. Duan had always been a threat to theindependent governors in the southeastern region, and now they feltthat the sword of Damocles had been removed, so they agreed to thetruce. But on the 2ndof December, 1917, Duan instigated ten northern governors to takeaction against the southeastern provinces. On the 6th,they pressed President Feng to issue orders to continue the war.Meanwhile, Zhang Zuolin, the warlord in the northeastern China, ledhis army into Peking. Under such pressure, Feng had to ask Duan toresume the office of premier.

  9. #19
    Duan re-organized his armyto attack the army of the military government, which now lost thesupport of the other governors and had to fight alone. It was soondefeated. But Wu Peifu (1874–1939), the commander of Duan’s army,ceased his assault and made a truce with the military government,ignoring Duan’s command. As Feng and Duan always had conflicts ofopinion, or in reality, of personal interests, both agreed to resignat the same time. That was on the 4thof September, 1918.
    Sun Yat-sen’s goal wasto let his National Party unite the whole of China under the rule ofhis party. But this ran counter to the interests of the warlords. Sohe lost most of his supporters and only a few were left. On the 21stof May, 1918, he left Canton for Shanghai, where he met ChiangKai-shek (1887–1975). The military government was controlled by thearmies of Yunnan and Guangxi provinces.
    As Sun resigned and leftCanton, his army (under the command of Chen Jiongming) went to Fujianprovince, and together with the army under the command of ChiangKai-shek they defeated Duan’s army there. That happened in June of1918.
    Although Duan was not inthe cabinet, he still had his army. So Zhang Zuoling (1875–192and Wu Peifu allied to fight him. On the 14thof July, 1920, Duan’s army was overcome. Then Xu Shichang, who hadnothing under his control, was selected (not elected, as there was nomore congress) by the warlords to be a puppet president.
    In August 1920, the armystationed in Fujian province marched back to Guangdong province toassail the Guangxi province army there. On the 28thof October, the military government was back under the control ofSun’s army. So on the 28thof November, Sun returned to Canton.
    On the 12thof January, 1921, a special congress was organized and on the 2ndof April, the congress held a session to annul the militarygovernment and resume the name of the Republic of China. On the 7thday, Sun was elected President and took an oath at a ceremony on the5th of May.

  10. #20
    SunYat-sen went north, looking to overthrow the Peking government

    Sun Yat-sen stillpersisted in marching north to overthrow the Peking government. Hethought of it as a warlord government, not a revolutionarygovernment. He wanted to found a revolutionary government for thepeople. Anyway, the governors of all the provinces and even ChenJiongming (1878–1933), the commander of his army (actually anotherwarlord), did not see things that way. Those men only wanted to havea federal government of warlords.
    On the 26thof March, 1922, Sun Yat-sen held a meeting and decided to go north totake down the Peking government. On the 9thof April, when the Revolutionary Army reached the Meng River, it wasblockaded by Chen Jiongming’s army which was encamped there. Sungave orders that if Chen’s army did not make way for him, he wouldlaunch an attack. When Sun reached Wuzhou Town, he summoned Chen tomeet him, but Chen refused to go there. Sun removed him from theposition of commander. Chen wanted his army to prepare for a waragainst Sun, but the army in Canton refused to carry out his order.There was nothing he could do but go back to his old home in HuizhouTown. However, part of his army was still loyal to him.
    In early April 1922, WuPeifu sent an emissary to contact Chen and asked him to prevent SunYat-sen by force from going north. Meantime, Duan and Zhang Zuolinwanted to ally with Sun to vanquish Wu. The situation gotcomplicated. Everyone was putting his own interests first andrelationships between friends and enemies often changed.

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