Asia Pacific 1912: Yuan Shikai and the Republic of China

The Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yatsen declared a republic in January 1912, but to avoid bloodshed he came to a compromise with the military, agreeing to accept imperial Prime Minister Yuan Shikai as president if he could bring about the abdication of the Chinese Emperor. Yuan did so, peacefully ending the Chinese Empire, and was made provisional president of the Republic of China on 10 March.


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

1 Jan 1912 Republic of China

On 29 December 1911, Sun Yatsen was elected as the provisional president of the Republic of China. The republic was formally declared in Nanjing on 1 January 1912. However, on 22 January, Sun would agree to relinquish the presidency in favor of military leader Yuan Shikai if the latter supported the emperor’s wikipedia

12 Feb 1912 Abdication of Puyi

Following the declaration of the Republic of China in Nanjing, Sun Yatsen agreed to resign in favor of Yuan Shikai—Prime Minister of the Chinese Empire—should Yuan support Emperor Puyi’s abdication. As the emperor was only six, Yuan pressured the regent—Empress Dowager Longyu—to acquiesce to his demands. On 12 February 1912, Puyi abdicated his throne, bringing an end to both Qing Dynasty rule and the Chinese Empire. By agreement, Puyi retained his imperial title and was allowed to remain in the Forbidden City and Summer wikipedia

15 Feb 1912 End of Qing rule in Tuva

With the collapse of Chinese rule in Mongolia, Gombo-Dorzhu—paramount chief of Tannu Uriankhai (Tuva)—requested Russian protection. Not wishing to prematurely antagonize the Chinese government, the Russians did not wikipedia

10 Mar 1912 Yuan Shikai becomes President

Yuan Shikai, commander of the Beiyang Army, was inaugurated as provisional president of the Republic of China, replacing Sun Yatsen. This action was a compromise to avoid civil war in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution, as Sun Yatsen’s Kuomintang only controlled southern China and they needed Yuan’s support to end the Qing Dynasty. It led to the capital of the Republic being moved from the Kuomintang power center of Nanjing to the old imperial capital of Beijing where Yuan wikipedia