Yuan Shikai, China’s second president and its last emperor

May 6, 2015

For thousands of years, the history of China has been defined by wars, rebellion, power struggles and famine, which explains why today’s central government worries about famine and allowing dissidents a voice.

Between 1911 and 1976, three Chinese men were responsible for much of the devastation and death that swept over China causing tens of millions of deaths (not counting what the Japanese did during World War II). Those Chinese leaders were: Yuan Shikai, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung.

In 1911 when the Qing Dynasty fell, Yuan Shikai was a general and commander of the most modern military force in Imperial China. He kept his position by supporting the revolutionaries that brought down the Qing Dynasty.

After the Qing Dynasty fell, rebellion spread through the Yangtze River Valley before revolutionaries from fourteen provinces elected Sun Yat-sen president of a provisional (temporary) government and in January 1912, Sun announced the establishment of the Republic of China.

However, generals controlled China’s provinces and refused to give up power. China’s young republic was essentially the capital city of Nanjing.

On March 20, 1913, Yuan Shikai’s agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen, who helped Sun Yat-sen become the first president. Sun demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

Yuan Shikai resisted, sparking a “so-called” second revolution and on September 15, 1913, he ordered Sun Yat-sen’s arrest. To survive, Sun fled to Japan as a political refugee. He wouldn’t return to China until a few months after Yuan Shikai’s death.

Yuan Shikai, supported financially by the British Empire, became China’s second president, but after 1914, World War I caused a reduction in Britain’s financial support.

Weakened, Yuan Shaikai was forced to accept twenty-one demands made by Japan, which included giving up Chinese territory. He agreed on May 7, 1916, which is now considered National Humiliation Day.

Yuan Shaikai was unable to establish control beyond Nanking so he declared himself emperor. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy and him as emperor touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun Yat-sen’s followers in several other provinces.

This resulted in twelve years of warfare between the warlord generals of China’s provinces and the weak Republic of China.

Yuan Shikai died in 1916, then Sun Yat-sen returned to lead the republic. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, which led to the Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


Yuan Shikai — the general who became China’s second president then emperor

December 28, 2010

For thousands of years, the history of China has been defined by wars, rebellion, power struggles and famine, which explains why today’s central government worries about famine and allowing dissidents a voice.

Between 1911 and 1976, three men were responsible for much of the devastation and death that swept over China causing tens of millions of deaths — Yuan Shikai, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung.

In 1911 when the Qing Dynasty fell, Yuan Shikai was a general and commander of the most modern military force in Imperial China. He kept his position by supporting the revolutionaries that brought down the Qing Dynasty.

After the Qing Dynasty fell, rebellion spread through the Yangtze River Valley before revolutionaries from fourteen provinces elected Sun Yat-sen president of a provisional (temporary) government and in January 1912, Sun announced the establishment of the Republic of China.

However, generals controlled China’s provinces and refused to give up power. China’s young republic was essentially the capital city of Nanjing.

On March 20, 1913, Yuan Shikai’s agents assassinated Sung Chiao-jen, who helped Sun Yat-sen become the first president. Sun demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

Yuan Shikai resisted, sparking a “so-called” second revolution and on September 15, 1913, he ordered Sun Yat-sen’s arrest. To survive, Sun fled to Japan as a political refugee. He wouldn’t return to China until a few months after Yuan Shikai’s death.

Yuan Shikai, supported financially by the British Empire, became China’s second president, but after 1914, World War I caused a reduction in Britain’s financial support.

Weakened, Yuan Shaikai was forced to accept twenty-one demands made by Japan, which included giving up Chinese territory. He agreed on May 7, 1916, which is now considered National Humiliation Day.

Yuan Shaikai was unable to establish control beyond Nanking so he declared himself emperor. His attempt to replace the republic with a monarchy and him as emperor touched off revolts in southwestern China followed by uprisings of Sun Yat-sen’s followers in several other provinces.

This resulted in twelve years of warfare between the warlord generals of China’s provinces and the weak Republic of China.

Yuan Shikai died in 1916, then Sun Yat-sen returned to lead the republic. Sun Yat-sen died in 1925, which caused the Civil War between the Chinese Communist Party and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.

Discover more from The Roots of Madness

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


China: The Roots of Madness – Part 3/8

June 9, 2010

In Part 3, death claims Sun Yat-sen (1866 – 1925) after he has accepted support from Soviet Russia. Soon, General Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1975), with help from the Communists, consolidates power in southern China.

Chiang is known to Westerners as a fiery nationalist and revolutionary.  He mobilizes an army under Sun Yat-sen’s flag and marches north with a few divisions. Meanwhile, the warlords have gathered a half-a-million troops to stop him. Outnumbered, Chiang sends an advance group of nationalists and communists to call the peasants and workers to join his army.

Among those peasants and workers is Mao Tse-tung (1893 – 1976).  While moving north, Chiang’s army raids foreign concessions, burns foreign buildings and tears down foreign flags.  Leftist leaders of the Kuomintang start to distrust Chiang Kai-shek and some want to assassinate him but others disagree.

In Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek, now a dictator, strikes first on April 12, 1927. His troops kill anyone suspected of being a Communist. In December, there is a Communist uprising in Canton. A battle rages for two days between the Communists and Kuomintang ending in the executions of most of the Communists, but Mao escapes and goes into hiding.

Continued in Part 4, The Roots of Madness or return to Part 2, The Roots of Madness.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.


Four Equals One China—Urban China (Part 3 of 7)

May 15, 2010

In 1949, when Mao came to power, 0.005 kilowatts of electricity were being generated in China.  Most of China did not have electricity or modern roads. In 1950, most of China was the same as it had been for centuries.

Soon after Mao’s death, China entered a transition that isn’t over. There was a period of planning and then the miraculous modernization of China that the world has seen since 1980 began.

China’s first 10, five-year plans focused on modernization and growth in urban areas. Urban China started with about 250 million people. As China became the world’s factory floor, the largest migration in human history took place and 300 hundred million rural Chinese moved to urban China to work in factories. Today, urban China has about 550 million people with more than a hundred cities with populations over a million. Trillions have been spent developing cities like Shanghai, Beijing and others.

To discover more about this modernization transition taking place in China, read Pop-Up Cities: China Builds a Bright Green Metropolis by Douglas McGray.  By 2020, China plans to build four hundred new, modern cities at a rate of 20 each year.

Go to Four Equals One China: Part 4 or Discover After Mao

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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