Asia Pacific 1921: Russia in Mongolia

Ungern von Sternberg, a Russian general fleeing the Soviet advance, took advantage of Chinese weakness to occupy Mongolia. His rule would only last a few months before Soviet and Mongolian forces expelled him, however the Soviet dominance which followed would last for 70 years.


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.

Warlord China

From the Zhili-Anhui War (1920) to the Nationalist recapture of Beijing (1928), control over China fluctuated as various warlords fought for power. The foreign powers handled this situation by regarding whichever warlords controlled Beijing as the legitimate government of China, even though these warlords often had no influence outside the city.

To depict this situation, this atlas shows the recognized government of China as warlord-controlled rather than as an independent entity, with its size changing depending on how much authority the government had outside of Beijing. However the actual recognized borders of China itself did not change during this period.

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

16 Aug 1920 Guangdong-Guangxi War

Chen Jiongming and Sun Yatsen’s Kuomintang take Guangdongin wikipedia

17 Dec 1920 South Pacific Mandate

The League of Nations granted Japan a Class C mandate over the islands of German New Guinea north of the Equator. These islands included the Caroline Islands, Marshall Islands, northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. The territory became the Japanese Mandate for the South Seas wikipedia

3 Feb 1921 Ungern-Sternberg takes Urga, Mongolia

By February 1921, the Russian Civil War had turned decisively in the Soviets’ favor. In response, the hardline White Guard General, Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, unilaterally invaded Outer Mongolia, with aspirations to restore the Mongol wikipedia