Asia Pacific 1924: Beijing Coup

By 1924, the Zhili clique seemed poised to reunify China under its rule. However it was not to be. In a surprise move in October, the warlord Feng Yuxiang took advantage of the Second Zhili-Fengtian War to betray his Zhili leaders and seize control of the government in Beijing, breaking Zhili power for good.


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 Jan 1923 Kuomintang retakes Guangzhou (Canton) from Chen Jiongming.

Kuomintang retakes Guangzhou (Canton) from Chen wikipedia

1 Sep 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake

Great Kanto earthquake kills over 100,000 people in Tokyo wikipedia

15 Sep–3 Nov 1924 Second Zhili-Fengtian War.

Second Zhili-Fengtian wikipedia

23 Oct 1924 Beijing Coup

Feng Yuxiang seizes control of Beijing in surprise move against Zhili wikipedia