Chinese Revolution

Warlords and Revolutionaries

East Asia 1911.1206

Chinese Revolution

The Xinhai Revolution, World War I in Asia, the Warlord Era in China, the Russian Revolution and the Siberian Intervention (6 December 1911)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

China had suffered endless humiliations since the mid 19th century, with the once powerful Qing dynasty unable to hold back foreign intrusions and forced to accept outside control of its ports and railways. Many revolutionary groups formed to overthrow the regime, and on October 10, 1911, one such group managed to seize power in the city of Wuchang. From there the revolution spread quickly across China. In an attempt to placate the revolutionaries, the Qing became a constitutional monarchy with the powerful general Yuan Shikai as prime minister.


Treaty Ports

Treaty ports were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Treaty ports are not shown in the maps after the 1911 Chinese Revolution in order to give a clearer picture of the chaos in China itself and as by that point their numbers had stabilized. After the revolution, some of the smaller ports were phased out while the others became less important as the situation in China meant that only the concessions could provide foreigners with security. Most, however, still continued on into the 1940s when the Japanese entry into World War II and foreign agreements with China brought them to an end.

See this map for treaty ports in 1907, when the system was at its peak.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

Anglo-Siamese Treaty

The Kingdom of Siam and the United Kingdom signed the Anglo-Siamese Treaty in Bangkok, capital of Siam. Ratifications were exchanged in London on 9 July 1909. By the terms of the treaty, Siam relinquished its claims to Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, and Terengganu, which became British protectorates.

China occupation of Lhasa

A Chinese expedition launched by the Qing dynasty occupied Lhasa, Tibet, officially deposing the 13th Dalai Lama on February 25. This act established direct Chinese rule in Tibet (albeit only until the Xinhai Revolution of 1911-1912).

Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty

Count Terauchi Masatake of the Empire of Japan and Prime Minister Lee Wan-yong of the Empire of Korea signed the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910, formally annexing Korea to Japan. Sunjong, Emperor of Korea from 1907, was demoted to King.

Wuchang Uprising

In collaboration with the Chinese revolutionary Tongmenhui, the modernized New Army in Wuchang, central China, mutinied against the Qing Viceroy of Huguang, seizing control of his office. The revolution would soon spread across southern China, encouraging the nationalist leader Sun Yatsen to return from exile and establish the Republic of China.

Mongolian Revolution

In response to the Chinese Revolution, the Mongols of Outer Mongolia - at the time part of the Chinese Empire - made a push for independence by establishing the Provisional Government of Khalkha. In the following days, the Mongols announced the end of Qing rule, formally installing their spiritual leader - the Jebtsundamba Khutuktu - as Bogd Khan of the new Mongolian state on 29 December.

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