1925 01 China, the Kuomintang, Communism, Chiang Kai Shek Rises and the Manchurian Dilemma


Author: Not Decided
Status: In Research

Please post any ideas or research for this episode that you want to contribute in this topic. If the episode hasn’t been assigned to an author yet, you can note your intent to write in the string too, and we will contact you to discuss.


Would just like to bring up the errata in the title, it should be ‘Chiang Kai-Shek’, the current spelling appears to be incorrect. :slight_smile:


Thank You - many titles… many letters.


I know Indy did a episode of China (TGW special episode) before and during WW1 are we picking up where he left off or do we need to go over this again?


This is the first part of my contribution to this episode. I will write about the rest(the KMT-CPC split and the Chinese Civil War) later.

The Warlord Era
After the failed attempt of a monarchy restoration under Yuan Shikai and the Constitutional Protection War, China was split between the North, under the Republic of China, and the South, under various warlords. Even the Republic had infighting amongst various groups. Duan Qirui and the Anhui Clique hoped for a military solution against the warlords in the South, while Feng Guozhang and the Zhili Clique wanted a negotiation.
After the Treaty of Versailles, German concessions in Qingdao were given to Japan instead of China. Many students protested against this in the May 4th Movement. This eventually led to the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party.
In October 1919, the Anhui-dominated government of China invaded and occupied Mongolia for several years until Ungern von Sternberg came. The North collapsed between the Anhui, the Zhili and the Fengtian(a clique in Manchuria). After the occupation of Mongolia, the Fengtian clique felt threatened and signed an alliance with the Zhili clique.
In July of 1920, war broke out between the Zhili and the Anhui. The alliance was confirmed, when the Fengtian also invaded. The two allies jointly occupied Beijing, until they betrayed each other.
(1922)In the first Zhili-Fengtian war, the Zhili won, and only stopped through British intervention, leaving the Fengtian only in Manchuria.
(1924)In the second war, the Zhili were almost victorious, when Feng Yuxiang launched a coup against the clique in Beijing. He established the Guominjun and the Fengtian clique won. The Zhili clique remained alive in Central China.
(1925)After the death of Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang-Kai-Shek took control of the KMT, which as based in Canton. He made sure to improve the military and received support from the USSR.
(1925)The Guominjun attempted to invade the Zhili and the Fengtian, and failed. (1926)In the South, the KMT found an opportunity to invade with their large military. They invaded from Canton towards the North, and captured most of the Zhili clique until they reached Nanjing. (1927)There, political instability prevented the KMT from pushing forward. Sun from the Zhili clique attempted a counter-attack, but failed and was pushed back.
(1928)As the KMT approached Beijing, the Shanxi clique became loyal and assisted with the battles. Zhang Zuolin, the leader of the Fengtian clique, was assassinated. His successor, Zhang Xueliang, was loyal to the KMT and signed an armistice with them. The KMT was now dominant.


A very good start! Nice that you keep it in a yearly flow as well.



This is an awesome collection of maps covering the interwar period so far (it is still WIP but maps until 1936 are done) in China, including maps of actual control, governments, and foreign support.


Thanosaekk has a good timeline but I think it’s important that you talk about the “warlords.”

Yuan Shikai led what was called the Beiyang Army. It was this army that had the lion’s share of the Qing’s modernization and the they’d even been getting help from Japan to build three divisions to send to Europe to fight in WW1 (This was actually just Japan buying influence.)

Anyway, the Beiyang army generals split up after the death of Yuan Shikai and the collapse in central authority… but the Anhui Clique, the Zhili Clique, Fengtian clique… all of them saw themselves as being part of the Republic of China and the one legal continuation of it. They were not separate countries and they didn’t see themselves that way. They were essentially all leading a coup against the others. The “Clique” in their names title refers to how each one was a grouping of generals.

A good book on this is “Warlord Politics in China” by Hsi Hseng’chi https://www.amazon.com/Warlord-Politics-China-1916-1928-Hsi-sheng/dp/0804708940

In the South, the KMT was different. All of the cliques in the North saw themselves as still part of the Yuan Shikai’s Beiyang government and derived their legitimacy from their previous positions in that government. Sun Yat Sen’s government in the South was different and had a different constitution and regarded the government of Yuan Shikai and the successor cliques as all illegitimate.

I see that there are 3-4 Between Two Wars episodes on China. Traditionally, historians split this era into two periods. The Warlord Period (which runs from the death of Yuan Shikai in 1916 to the end of Northern Expedition in 1926) and then there is what’s called the Nanjing Decade which runs from 1927 to 1937.

They are different. In the Warlord Period, the communists are allied with the KMT. In the Nanjing Decade, they are recipient of 5 Extermination campaigns. In the Warlord Period, Japan is mostly content to talk to people. In the Nanjing Decade, they start their salami slicing of China. In the Warlord Period, Sun Yat Sen is in control of the KMT. In the Nanjing decade, Chiang Kai Shek is in control.