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Thread: Two Republics in China

  1. #16
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    Under instructions from Sun Yat-sen, Li Liejun declared the independence of Jiangxi province on the 12th of the same month, and formed a separate headquarters from which to oppose Yuan. On the 15th, Huang Xing reached Nanking and declared the independence of Jiangsu province. Quite a few provinces followed suit.
    On the 22nd of July, the national Army from Jiangsu province fought a battle with Yuan’s army at Xuzhou of Shandong province and was defeated. The national Army was conquered in some other places, too. Then all the independent provinces had to rescind their declarations of independence. Yuan issued orders to arrest Sun Yat-sen and Huang Xing, who had already escaped to Japan. This event was called the Second Revolution, but it ended in failure.
    On the 6th of October, the congress held a session in Peking and the congressmen were forced to elect Yuan Shikai as president and Li Yuanhong as vice president of the republic. Yuan took the official oath on the 10th of October.

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    Yuan wanted to be the new emperor
    On the 4th of November, Yuan gave an order to disband the national Party, using their rebellion as a pretext. Simultaneously, he drove all the members of the national Party out of the congress. On the 10th of January, 1914, Yuan dismissed the congress entirely and formed his own council of state, which meant that all the members were his men. He was still dissatisfied with being president. He wanted to be emperor.
    To attain his goal, he first had to get international support. In January of 1915, Japan secretly gave Yuan a document containing 21 articles in 5 chapters, through which China should cede to Japan a variety of economic and commercial rights and benefits, such as options on railroads and other profitable fields in Manchuria, and in Shandong province, and also the extension of Japan’s occupation of Luushun and Dalian (two harbor cities) to 99 years, etc. But two articles in particular were unacceptable. One was to employ Japanese advisors in the Chinese central government, in the financial and military fields. The other was to employ Japanese advisors in local police departments. The negotiations ran from the 2nd of February to the 7th of May.
    Yuan accepted most of the articles in order to secure Japan’s support for his ambition to be emperor. But such a big secret could not be kept for long and soon the public heard that he was selling them out. Yuan was severely criticized, but to no avail.
    Then Yuan’s supporters began to circulate their theory that the republican form of government was not suitable to China. They formed a committee on the political future of China and sent out their men to all the provinces to persuade officials and officers and businessmen to support Yuan as emperor, promising all of them personal benefits. Then such supporters were summoned to the capital as “people’s representatives.” Those representatives formed groups and on the 1st of September handed a petition to the Council of State organized by Yuan) to ask Yuan to be the emperor.

  3. #18
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    Yuan wanted to be the new emperor
    On the 4th of November, Yuan gave an order to disband the national Party, using their rebellion as a pretext. Simultaneously, he drove all the members of the national Party out of the congress. On the 10th of January, 1914, Yuan dismissed the congress entirely and formed his own council of state, which meant that all the members were his men. He was still dissatisfied with being president. He wanted to be emperor.
    To attain his goal, he first had to get international support. In January of 1915, Japan secretly gave Yuan a document containing 21 articles in 5 chapters, through which China should cede to Japan a variety of economic and commercial rights and benefits, such as options on railroads and other profitable fields in Manchuria, and in Shandong province, and also the extension of Japan’s occupation of Luushun and Dalian (two harbor cities) to 99 years, etc. But two articles in particular were unacceptable. One was to employ Japanese advisors in the Chinese central government, in the financial and military fields. The other was to employ Japanese advisors in local police departments. The negotiations ran from the 2nd of February to the 7th of May.
    Yuan accepted most of the articles in order to secure Japan’s support for his ambition to be emperor. But such a big secret could not be kept for long and soon the public heard that he was selling them out. Yuan was severely criticized, but to no avail.
    Then Yuan’s supporters began to circulate their theory that the republican form of government was not suitable to China. They formed a committee on the political future of China and sent out their men to all the provinces to persuade officials and officers and businessmen to support Yuan as emperor, promising all of them personal benefits. Then such supporters were summoned to the capital as “people’s representatives.” Those representatives formed groups and on the 1st of September handed a petition to the Council of State organized by Yuan) to ask Yuan to be the emperor.

  4. #19
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    In a traditional show of modesty, Yuan initially refused their petition. On the 19th, they organized the “National Petition Committee” to turn in a second petition, this time requesting that the 1993 people’s representatives should hold a conference to decide the future of the nation. Accordingly, the conference was in session at 9 o’clock in the morning on December 11. The representatives were to cast votes. All the representatives voted for imperial system. Yuan graciously accepted the result as the supposed will of the people, and decided that the next year (1916) would be the first year of his Empire of China.


    In December, just after Yuan 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, Feng Guozhang (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 rescind the empire.

  5. #20
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    In a traditional show of modesty, Yuan initially refused their petition. On the 19th, they organized the “National Petition Committee” to turn in a second petition, this time requesting that the 1993 people’s representatives should hold a conference to decide the future of the nation. Accordingly, the conference was in session at 9 o’clock in the morning on December 11. The representatives were to cast votes. All the representatives voted for imperial system. Yuan graciously accepted the result as the supposed will of the people, and decided that the next year (1916) would be the first year of his Empire of China.

    In December, just after Yuan 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, Feng Guozhang (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 rescind the empire.

  6. #21
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    Seeing that even his former subordinates had betrayed him, Yuan had to declare openly that he was rescinding the empire and restoring the presidency on the 22nd of March, 1916. He had been Emperor only for 83 days. Once a high military official of the Qing Dynasty, he had turned against the empire, and then he was subverted in turn. He contracted a fatal disease and died on the 6th of June.
    If he had not been so ambitious and had contented himself with the presidency, Yuan would have been spared the hatred of almost all the people in China. He would not have been betrayed by his closest generals, who commanded part of his new army. But he went against the historical tide, against the will of people. He wanted to turn back time to the imperial age. As a president, his subordinates only had to stand up before him and salute him, whereas during his heady days as emperor, his subordinates had to kneel before him and kowtow to him. Any man who has had a chance to stand up never wants to bend his knees again. Sense of dignity.
    There would have to be a public funeral for Yuan. According to the law, when the president died, the vice president would succeed him. So Li Yuanhong became the president. Also, as a rule, the public funeral for a deceased president should be led by the succeeding president. But Li had a little problem with Yuan, for Yuan had imprisoned Li. That made it rather hard for Li to feign any esteem of Yuan. So on the day of the funeral, 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.
    Chaos

  7. #22
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    Seeing that even his former subordinates had betrayed him, Yuan had to declare openly that he was rescinding the empire and restoring the presidency on the 22nd of March, 1916. He had been Emperor only for 83 days. Once a high military official of the Qing Dynasty, he had turned against the empire, and then he was subverted in turn. He contracted a fatal disease and died on the 6th of June.
    If he had not been so ambitious and had contented himself with the presidency, Yuan would have been spared the hatred of almost all the people in China. He would not have been betrayed by his closest generals, who commanded part of his new army. But he went against the historical tide, against the will of people. He wanted to turn back time to the imperial age. As a president, his subordinates only had to stand up before him and salute him, whereas during his heady days as emperor, his subordinates had to kneel before him and kowtow to him. Any man who has had a chance to stand up never wants to bend his knees again. Sense of dignity.
    There would have to be a public funeral for Yuan. According to the law, when the president died, the vice president would succeed him. So Li Yuanhong became the president. Also, as a rule, the public funeral for a deceased president should be led by the succeeding president. But Li had a little problem with Yuan, for Yuan had imprisoned Li. That made it rather hard for Li to feign any esteem of Yuan. So on the day of the funeral, 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.

  8. #23
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    Restoration of the abdicated emperor
    Li and Duan had also clashed. Their opinions and political attitudes were different. As Li had no supporters in the government, Duan had no respect for him. Duan also had command of part of the new army. So Li sought support outside 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 Li and most of the congressmen thought it better not to join the war. On the 23rd of May, Li issued an order to remove Duan from the office of premier. Duan went to Tianjin City and instigated all the governors to declare independence. So Li summoned General Zhang Xun (1854–1923) to the capital to mediate.
    Zhang Xun was still loyal to the Qing Dynasty and the soldiers in his army still maintained their queues. So his army was called the pigtail army. He thought that this was a great opportunity and took five thousand soldiers with him. On the 14th of June, he entered Peking. On the night of the 30th of June, he sent his soldiers to occupy strategic points like the railway station and telegraph office. He went to see Li and tried to persuade him to return the political power to the abdicated emperor Fu Yi, by now using the Western name of Henry, but got a flat refusal.
    On the 1st of July, 1917, Zhang Xun let the abdicated emperor sit on the throne again and issue a few orders, such as to change the national flag from the five-colored flag (the symbol of Republic of China) to dragon flag (the symbol of the Qing Dynasty).

  9. #24
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    Restoration of the abdicated emperor
    Li and Duan had also clashed. Their opinions and political attitudes were different. As Li had no supporters in the government, Duan had no respect for him. Duan also had command of part of the new army. So Li sought support outside 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 Li and most of the congressmen thought it better not to join the war. On the 23rd of May, Li issued an order to remove Duan from the office of premier. Duan went to Tianjin City and instigated all the governors to declare independence. So Li summoned General Zhang Xun (1854–1923) to the capital to mediate.
    Zhang Xun was still loyal to the Qing Dynasty and the soldiers in his army still maintained their queues. So his army was called the pigtail army. He thought that this was a great opportunity and took five thousand soldiers with him. On the 14th of June, he entered Peking. On the night of the 30th of June, he sent his soldiers to occupy strategic points like the railway station and telegraph office. He went to see Li and tried to persuade him to return the political power to the abdicated emperor Fu Yi, by now using the Western name of Henry, but got a flat refusal.
    On the 1st of July, 1917, Zhang Xun let the abdicated emperor sit on the throne again and issue a few orders, such as to change the national flag from the five-colored flag (the symbol of Republic of China) to dragon flag (the symbol of the Qing Dynasty).

  10. #25
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    On the 2nd of July, Li went to the Japanese embassy for protection while issuing two orders: appointing Feng Guozhang as the deputy president and restored Duan to the office of the premier. So on the 3rd of July, Duan gathered his army, and on the 14th day, he defeated Zhang Xun’s pigtail army. Zhang Xun escaped to the Dutch embassy, then went to live in Tianjin City. The Emperor abdicated once more. And Duan went to the Japanese embassy to welcome Li back to his presidency. On the 28th of August, Li went to Tianjin City after resigning.
    Thus, in the early history of the Republic of China, there were two restorations. One was under Yuan Shikai, who wanted to be emperor himself and founded the Empire of China. The other was Zhang Xun, who put the abdicated emperor on the throne again. But both quickly ended in failure. The chariot of history always runs forward and no one can pull it back. People won’t go 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 the governor of Jiangsu province and lived in Nanking. Now he was the president and had to take up office in Peking. That left the position of governor of Jiangsu province vacant. Duan wanted to appoint Duan Zhigui as the governor there, but Feng wanted to appoint Li Chun, the present governor of Jiangxi province as the governor of Jiangsu province. He promoted Chen Guangyuan, who was the commander of the twelfth division, to be the governor of Jiangxi province. Both were supporters of Feng. Before he left for Peking, he divided his army into two divisions. The sixteenth division would stay in Jiangsu province. He brought his fifteenth division to Peking as his bodyguard so that he wouldn’t be controlled by Duan.
    Duan dismissed the old congress because most of the congressmen had opposed him on the question of joining in the First World War. Since there was no more congress, the Duan government declared war against Germany and Austria.

  11. #26
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    On the 2nd of July, Li went to the Japanese embassy for protection while issuing two orders: appointing Feng Guozhang as the deputy president and restored Duan to the office of the premier. So on the 3rd of July, Duan gathered his army, and on the 14th day, he defeated Zhang Xun’s pigtail army. Zhang Xun escaped to the Dutch embassy, then went to live in Tianjin City. The Emperor abdicated once more. And Duan went to the Japanese embassy to welcome Li back to his presidency. On the 28th of August, Li went to Tianjin City after resigning.
    Thus, in the early history of the Republic of China, there were two restorations. One was under Yuan Shikai, who wanted to be emperor himself and founded the Empire of China. The other was Zhang Xun, who put the abdicated emperor on the throne again. But both quickly ended in failure. The chariot of history always runs forward and no one can pull it back. People won’t go 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 the governor of Jiangsu province and lived in Nanking. Now he was the president and had to take up office in Peking. That left the position of governor of Jiangsu province vacant. Duan wanted to appoint Duan Zhigui as the governor there, but Feng wanted to appoint Li Chun, the present governor of Jiangxi province as the governor of Jiangsu province. He promoted Chen Guangyuan, who was the commander of the twelfth division, to be the governor of Jiangxi province. Both were supporters of Feng. Before he left for Peking, he divided his army into two divisions. The sixteenth division would stay in Jiangsu province. He brought his fifteenth division to Peking as his bodyguard so that he wouldn’t be controlled by Duan.
    Duan dismissed the old congress because most of the congressmen had opposed him on the question of joining in the First World War. Since there was no more congress, the Duan government declared war against Germany and Austria.

  12. #27
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    May 4 student movement
    On the 23rd of August, 1914, Japan declared war against Germany and took over Jiaozhou Bay in Shandong province, formerly occupied by Germany. They fought for 70 days. Then in January 1915, Japan had put the 21 articles to Yuan, who accepted most of them. These were considered a national insult, which caused great dissatisfaction with the government among Chinese intellectuals, including university students.
    China declared war against Germany on the 14th of August, 1917, actually at the end of the First World War, so that China was one of the victorious countries. But at the Paris Peace Conference, which produced the Versailles Treaty, Japan was allowed to continue its occupation of Jiaozhou Bay, which should have been returned to China since it was in the territory of China and formerly was occupied by Germany.
    The public called upon the Chinese representative at the conference to refuse to sign on the treaty, but the government secretly instructed the representative to go ahead and sign it. When the news became openly known, the students at Peking University held an emergency meeting on the 1st of May. On the night of the 3rd day, students from other universities joined in the action. They decided to hold a demonstration on TianAnMen Square on the 4th of May, which was Sunday. Thus began the May 4 movement.
    At one o’clock in the afternoon, the students marched towards the neighborhood where all the embassies were and distributed copies of a memorandum, which was refused by all the embassies except the American one. Then they went to the residence of Cao Rulin, minister of transportation (to complain about the railway problem with Japan), where they saw Zhang Zongxiang, the Chinese ambassador to Japan. The students gave both a good beating and set fire to the residence. For that, 32 students were arrested.
    To rescue the students, the professors called on the public to declare a strike of all students, teachers, workers, and shop-owners. The government forbade it and arrested more people. The chaos lasted into June; people answered the call of the professors and the movement spread to many cities. Even railway workers started to strike. On the 11th of June, Professor Chen Duxiu (1879–1942) and others distributed pamphlets in public, and Chen was arrested. The chaos worsened. Under such pressure, the government had to give in. It dismissed Cao and Zhang from office and released those in jail. On the 28th of June, the representative attending the Paris Peace Conference did not sign the treaty.
    This movement was influential not only in politics, but also in culture. Many changes were introduced. Professor Hu Shih proposed that language as spoken should be used in writing instead of the classical language. Hence, the language style in use was changed, even in newspapers. So the May 4 movement is also called the new cultural movement.

  13. #28
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    May 4 student movement
    On the 23rd of August, 1914, Japan declared war against Germany and took over Jiaozhou Bay in Shandong province, formerly occupied by Germany. They fought for 70 days. Then in January 1915, Japan had put the 21 articles to Yuan, who accepted most of them. These were considered a national insult, which caused great dissatisfaction with the government among Chinese intellectuals, including university students.
    China declared war against Germany on the 14th of August, 1917, actually at the end of the First World War, so that China was one of the victorious countries. But at the Paris Peace Conference, which produced the Versailles Treaty, Japan was allowed to continue its occupation of Jiaozhou Bay, which should have been returned to China since it was in the territory of China and formerly was occupied by Germany.
    The public called upon the Chinese representative at the conference to refuse to sign on the treaty, but the government secretly instructed the representative to go ahead and sign it. When the news became openly known, the students at Peking University held an emergency meeting on the 1st of May. On the night of the 3rd day, students from other universities joined in the action. They decided to hold a demonstration on TianAnMen Square on the 4th of May, which was Sunday. Thus began the May 4 movement.
    At one o’clock in the afternoon, the students marched towards the neighborhood where all the embassies were and distributed copies of a memorandum, which was refused by all the embassies except the American one. Then they went to the residence of Cao Rulin, minister of transportation (to complain about the railway problem with Japan), where they saw Zhang Zongxiang, the Chinese ambassador to Japan. The students gave both a good beating and set fire to the residence. For that, 32 students were arrested.
    To rescue the students, the professors called on the public to declare a strike of all students, teachers, workers, and shop-owners. The government forbade it and arrested more people. The chaos lasted into June; people answered the call of the professors and the movement spread to many cities. Even railway workers started to strike. On the 11th of June, Professor Chen Duxiu (1879–1942) and others distributed pamphlets in public, and Chen was arrested. The chaos worsened. Under such pressure, the government had to give in. It dismissed Cao and Zhang from office and released those in jail. On the 28th of June, the representative attending the Paris Peace Conference did not sign the treaty.
    This movement was influential not only in politics, but also in culture. Many changes were introduced. Professor Hu Shih proposed that language as spoken should be used in writing instead of the classical language. Hence, the language style in use was changed, even in newspapers. So the May 4 movement is also called the new cultural movement.

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    Battles in the southwestern provinces
    Chinese historians define the men who command independent armies as warlords. In many periods this included the governors of provinces, and even premiers like Duan, who had his own army. The local warlords often disobeyed the central government. If the central government wanted any governor to obey its orders, it had to send an army to defeat him. And the provincial governors often fought one another to increase their power base. As a result, many periods of history were fraught with turmoil.
    Although Yuan Shikai died, his former supporters controlled most provinces. Only five provinces in southwestern China were under the influence of the national Party. They were Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
    In Sichuan province there were three armies. One came from Yunnan province. One came from Guizhou province. And the third one was formed of local soldiers. Each of them wanted to take control of Sichuan province and they fought one another from time to time. Premier Duan of the central government wanted to control this province, too. So he sent a detachment of his army to Sichuan province. Then, the three local armies united to fight against Duan’s army, which had to retreat.
    After the failure of the second revolution, Sun Yat-sen endeavored to make another attempt. He gained the support of the Navy’s First Fleet. In 1917, the governor of Guangdong province proposed to Sun that he could use this province as his headquarters against the warlord government in Peking. On the 10th of July, Sun took two warships to Shantou Town and sent Zhang Binglin to Guangdong province as his representative. The situation in that province was complicated, though. On the 17th, when Sun arrived in Canton on board a warship, he was welcomed. On the 22nd day, the commander of the First Fleet brought his fleet to Guangdong province, too. They announced that since the dismissal of the Congress, any orders from the Peking government were unlawful.

  15. #30
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    Battles in the southwestern provinces
    Chinese historians define the men who command independent armies as warlords. In many periods this included the governors of provinces, and even premiers like Duan, who had his own army. The local warlords often disobeyed the central government. If the central government wanted any governor to obey its orders, it had to send an army to defeat him. And the provincial governors often fought one another to increase their power base. As a result, many periods of history were fraught with turmoil.
    Although Yuan Shikai died, his former supporters controlled most provinces. Only five provinces in southwestern China were under the influence of the national Party. They were Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces.
    In Sichuan province there were three armies. One came from Yunnan province. One came from Guizhou province. And the third one was formed of local soldiers. Each of them wanted to take control of Sichuan province and they fought one another from time to time. Premier Duan of the central government wanted to control this province, too. So he sent a detachment of his army to Sichuan province. Then, the three local armies united to fight against Duan’s army, which had to retreat.
    After the failure of the second revolution, Sun Yat-sen endeavored to make another attempt. He gained the support of the Navy’s First Fleet. In 1917, the governor of Guangdong province proposed to Sun that he could use this province as his headquarters against the warlord government in Peking. On the 10th of July, Sun took two warships to Shantou Town and sent Zhang Binglin to Guangdong province as his representative. The situation in that province was complicated, though. On the 17th, when Sun arrived in Canton on board a warship, he was welcomed. On the 22nd day, the commander of the First Fleet brought his fleet to Guangdong province, too. They announced that since the dismissal of the Congress, any orders from the Peking government were unlawful.

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