East Asia 1920: Zhili-Anhui War
Since 1917, Duan Qirui and his Anhui clique had dominated the Chinese government. However Duan’s dependence on Japan had made him unpopular with the people and his attempts to reunify China had aroused fear in rival factions. The most powerful of these factions were the Zhili and Fengtian cliques, who allied to overthrow him in 1920.
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.
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.
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.
3 Jul 1920 Occupation of northern Sakhalin▲
In retaliation for the Nikolayevsk Incident, Japanese troops moved into northern Sakhalin - at the time, nominally part of the Far Eastern Republic. They would remain in occupation of the territory until 1925.
12 Jul 1920 Outbreak of Zhili-Anhui War▲
The Zhili clique denounces the Anhui clique, which currently dominates the government of the unstable Republic of China, in the widely circulated Paoting-fu Telegram. The denouncement has been signed by a number of generals from both the Zhili and Fengtian cliques, and brings the rivalry between Zhili and Anhui into the open in the Zhili-Anhui War.
17 Jul 1920 Zhili-Anhui War▲
Fengtian clique attacks Anhui clique
23-24 Jul 1920 Zhili and Fengtian cliques take Beijing▲
Zhili and Fengtian cliques take Beijing