Political map of East Asia and the Western Pacific 27 March 1927 (Northern Expedition): While the warlords fought over northern China (Anti-Fengtian War), the Kuomintang (Kuomintang) had been building up its strength in the south under its new leader, Chiang Kaishek (Chiang Kai-shek). In July 1926, Chiang attacked (Northern Expedition), his disciplined troops defeating the surprised forces of the Zhili clique (Zhili clique).