Political map of East Asia and the Western Pacific 06 June 1916 (China's Warlord Era Begins): Misjudging national sentiment, Yuan Shikai (Yuan Shikai) declared himself Emperor (Empire of China (1915–1916)) in December 1915. It was a huge blunder. Almost immediately the southern provinces began to break away (National Protection War), 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 (Warlord Era) had already begun.