China's Warlord Era Begins

Warlords and Revolutionaries

East Asia 1916.0606

China's Warlord Era Begins

The Xinhai Revolution, World War I in Asia, the Warlord Era in China, the Russian Revolution and the Siberian Intervention (6 June 1916)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

Misjudging national sentiment, Yuan Shikai declared himself Emperor in December 1915. It was a huge blunder. Almost immediately the southern provinces began to break away, defeating imperial attempts to stop them and gaining foreign sympathy. Only a few months into his reign, Yuan backed down. But he was too late, China's collapse into warlordism had already begun.

Main Events

Hongxian Emperor

Yuan Shikai, the President of the Republic of China, accepts the invitation of a specially convened "Representative Assembly" and proclaims himself Emperor of China, taking the era name Hongxian. The new Empire of China is set to formally begin on 1 January 1916, however the Emperor does not have the domestic and international support he was anticipating and ends up postponing and then canceling the accession rites.

Yunnan breaks away from the Chinese Empire, forming the National Protection Army

Restoration of Republic of China

Following provincial rebellions, the withdrawal of support of foreign powers, and threats to invade by the Empire of Japan, Yuan Shikai, the Hongxian Emperor, disestablishes the Empire of China and reinstates the Republic of China.

Death of Yuan Shikai

The Chinese President Yuan Shikai dies from uremia at the age of fifty-six. His last months have been marred by calls for his resignation, with rebellions erupting across China against his regime. Now, with his death, China has little remaining central authority and descends into warlordism.

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