The Fengtian Government, officially the Fengtian Government of the Republic of China, is a state in Northeast China. The only state contesting Qing legitimacy that holds actual territory in mainland China, the Fengtian Government is essentially a mirror of the Guangzhou military government established by Sun Yat-Sen in the early 1920s, from which it claims direct descent. Zhang Zuolin stands as the acting Grand Marshal and does not answer to the Qing due to his rivalry with Wu Peifu and the Zhili Clique, claiming that his own government is the only legitimate government of China.
Starting the century as a poor frontier region beset by lawlessness, Manchuria gradually came under the jurisdiction of the Warlord Zhang Zuolin by 1919 thanks to skilful political manoeuvering, competent governance, and some luck. Zhang's Fengtian Clique soon became among the most powerful groups of Warlords in China, and through a series of conflicts, made an effort to seize Beijing and control the weak Beiyang Government. Thanks to the Kuomintang Northern Expedition and the German intervention against it in 1926, this effort never bore fruit, and only Japanese involvement saved Zhang and his Clique from incorporation into the restored Qing Empire. Zhang then raised the banner of his new government.
Today, Fengtian has the difficult task of balancing crucial Japanese aid, needed to defeat the Zhili dominated Qing Empire, with the creeping economic and political influence it bears. There are also the Mongolians to contend with, as inevitable competition over the jointly administered Chinese Eastern Railway is likely to end in some form of confrontation.
Due to their conflicting claims to legitimacy, the Fengtian and Qing governments have been waging an intermittent propaganda war since 1928, often resumed or inflamed by public (or merely perceived) instances of Japanese or German exploitation. The resulting allegations, often centered around cooperation with foreign powers at the expense of the Chinese people, periodically threaten to bring the two countries and potentially their backers into a state of war. However, due to the persistent and often exaggerated nature of these threats from both sides, and their consistent failure to develop far beyond words, the wider international community has ceased to take them particularly seriously.
If Zhang can somehow manage to take Beijing and defeat the restored Qing, he then faces the difficult task of reuniting China beneath his leadership and shaking off the chains of Japanese imperialism.
The Fengtian Government is structurally almost identical to Sun-Yat Sen's former military government, from which it inherits most of its symbolism and claims to legitimacy. While making a pretence to democracy in the form of a legislative assembly, power in the Government is primarily brokered by former Communications Clique oligarchs, former warlord generals, and of course the Grand Marshal himself. Most of these are remnants of the Beiyang assembly that either was loyal to Zhang personally and fled to Manchuria, or republicans who were unwilling to compromise with the Qing, unaffiliated with other parties and were able to make the journey north. The Empire of Japan, often through its powerful Dalian based South Manchuria Railway Company (colloquially "Mantetsu"), exerts increasing political influence, privately dividing many in the army between loose "Pro-Japan" and "Pro-Zhang" factions. Over the past ten or so years Zhang has made efforts to build a minor personality cult, painting himself as a benevolent guide and protector to the Chinese people, further strengthening his regime, but making it all the more vulnerable to criticism of his foreign entanglements.
|Conscription Law: Limited Conscription|
|Economic Law: Civilian Economy|
|Trade Law: Export Focus|
|Head of Government: Liang Shiyi|
|Foreign Minister: WIP|
|Economy Minister: WIP|
|Security Minister: WIP|
|Intelligence Minister: WIP|
Most parties are united more by shared interest than any particular ideology, and few functions as organized political parties as they might be understood elsewhere. Most would be more accurately be described as “interests” or “lobbies”, or as “clubs” or “cliques”. Backhanded deals and bribery are common and considered relatively unremarkable, though the government generally attempts to hide both from the public. While Zhang and his generals could dissolve the assembly at any time by force of arms, the appearance of democracy is viewed as crucial to Fengtian's legitimacy claims, which are important to the maintenance of order in the Northeast, and critical to the ideological struggle with Qing to the South.
The Recovery League (Guangfuxi) are a loose grouping of fallen generals, governors, bureaucrats, and politicians without any strong ideological affiliation, most of whom find themselves in Fengtian because there are few other places where they might maintain any semblance of power. Many are relatively poor, having abandoned most of their riches to flee north, and their often worn clothing has led Japanese to refer to them disparagingly as “Rat Ministers”. Those in government retain power thanks to two factors: their usefulness to the regime were it ever to expand south once more, and more importantly, their infinite pliability. Easily bribed and tempted, they often serve to promote the interests of whoever is willing to pay, which often also cements their reelection. As a result, the “league” is highly splintered despite controlling a large portion of the Assembly, and lacks the political will to ever go against the Grand Marshal and his allies, essentially representing the status-quo as a result.
A collection of minor warlords and soldiers bound to their leader for various personal reasons, the Zhang Clique holds no specific ideology beyond a fierce desire to retake the rest of China and maintain the Grand Marshal's sweeping political powers. While making pretences to democracy and the Xinhai Revolution’s legacy, Zhang and his supporters hold no real commitment to republican ideals, and would almost certainly discard them as soon as they ceased to be necessary or convenient. Zhang himself is said to be a monarchist by personal politics, a leaning shared by others in the Clique, though this feeling is not specifically tied to Puyi or the Qing monarchy, instead amounting to a general philosophical commitment to the system. Japanese aid is viewed as necessary, if at times politically inconvenient, and its members usually make vehement but hollow public objections to Japanese overreach. The instant Japanese aid ceases to be necessary, the Clique seems likely to make good on its promises and attempt to cast out the “foreign intruder”.
The sole politically coherent faction to emerge from the ashes of the Beiyang Government, the Jiaotongxi is named after its former dominance over the old Ministry of Posts and Communications, as well as the Bank of Communications. Its survival was mostly a factor of its pre-existing close relations with the Fengtian Clique, due in large part to relatively widespread railroads in Manchuria, and this same fact has allowed the Clique to thrive even after losing control of its investments across the rest of China. Thanks to Mantetsu’s domination of Japanese railways, the Clique has made more extensive attempts to woo railway workers and their unions than before, but this should not be understood as a move toward socialism. The Communications Clique is ultimately highly plutocratic and self-interested, its work with unions little more than a coldly calculated political move.
A collection of politicians and lobbyists with all the trappings of a political party, the Xiehehui represent the interests of Mantetsu, and sometimes other Japanese Zaibatsu, in the Assembly. Their actual ideological positions vary, some believing that cooperation with the Japanese is ultimately in China’s best interest, while others are more resigned to a fate of subservience, and a significant portion subscribes to the Pan-Asian principles promoted by some Japanese. The Xiehehui, while viewed by a substantial portion of the population as morally corrupt, nonetheless receive a reasonable amount of support from Mantetsu employees and enough from the corporation itself to ensure their place in government. Because Mantetsu leverage in the Fengtian Government is largely maintained through the Association, at least without the use of politically inconvenient methods, its relative power in government is a good indicator of Japanese influence in Manchuria.
By the mid-1920s, Zhang's Fengtian Army boasted one of the best equipped and organized forces in China, fielding an impressive panoply of Weltkrieg era surplus, its very own arsenal in Mukden, and generous aid from Japan in varying forms. Points of particular pride were two entire divisions of tanks, rare among the warlords, and China's only organized air-force including both fighters and bombers.
By 1928, the Fengtian Army was utterly decimated as a consequence of intense fighting against more modern German equipment and defections by important generals, and the ensuing eight years have seen slow but steady rearmament and reorganization in-pace with the recovering economy. Japanese aid continues to flow, but at more evident cost than before. Many of Fengtian's Japanese-trained divisions are now also captained by Japanese officers, and military "advisors" to higher levels of command are not an uncommon sight in the capital.
Thanks to a series of treaties signed after the intervention, Japanese garrisons are spread across the country, particularly near major ports and cities.
The Fengtian Army, officially the Army of the Republic, is an impressive sight by most Chinese standards, though pales in comparison to most foreign forces. The majority of its weapons and vehicles are outdated, with the exception of its standard issue rifle provided by the Japanese, and organization below the division level is a patchy affair due to limited communications equipment. The Army's greatest deficiency is in morale, partially as a consequence of foreign-trained and even outright Japanese officers widespread throughout the ranks. While Zhang's troops are as well trained as any among the Qing, the shortage of indigenous officers is a constant reminder to the men that they are ultimately fighting for a foreign power.
Another uncommon dynamic in the Fengtian Army is the presence of strong ties of personal loyalty between troops and generals, as well as similar ties between those generals and the Grand Marshal. Although Zhang carried out a Japanese-backed campaign of "pacification and centralization" after the conclusion of the civil war, intended to eliminate competition and endemic banditry, it was actually used as an opportunity to incorporate these various forces into the army to replace losses. As a result, the Army's leadership structure is virtually feudal, and most of these generals and troops owe their personal loyalty to Zhang, instead of any abstract concept of nation or state.
While these conditions are the case for most of the army, the Grand Marshal himself is known to be a formidable commander, and the "Mukden Tiger" maintains a personal guard of two divisions equipped and trained to foreign standards.
The Fengtian Navy, officially The Navy of the Republic, consists of an ageing collection of cruisers and destroyers accompanied by four submarines. No serious effort has gone into updating or even sufficiently organizing the navy, which exists mostly as a coastal and river patrol force, and it will rely entirely upon Japanese assistance in the event of war with the Qing. This pitiful state of affairs is attested by the fact that the crew of one Destroyer went so far as to sell their ship's armament, which went unnoticed by command for weeks.
The Fengtian Flying Corps, officially The China Flying Corps, was once the pride and joy of the Grand Marshal's son, Zhang Xueliang, who used his passion for aviation to train its first pilots. The Flying Corps performed well during the Civil Wars and lost air superiority over the Zhili only upon the arrival of modern German-piloted planes. Since then, the Flying Corps has grown, though its planes remain over a decade behind the European standard.
The Fengtian Government of the Republic of China
- is a quietly resentful puppet of Japan.
- has friendly relations with Japan and Transamur.
- maintains an intense rivalry with the Qing Empire, and dislikes the Ma Clique, Yunnan, AOG, Shanqing Tianguo, and Russia.
At the start of the 20th century, Manchuria was a poorly managed frontier province, fraught with lawlessness and banditry. With the rule of Zhang, however, came rapid reforms through his finance minister Wang Yongjiang. Wang backed his currency, originally no different from those printed by other warlords, with silver, generating confidence and eventually gaining value against the Japanese Yen. Extensive tax reform solved outstanding debts, and by the early 1920s, the economy was bolstered by immigrants fleeing instability throughout the rest of China. The presence of Mantetsu, the South Manchurian Railway Company, permitted Japan to invest heavily and confidently throughout Manchuria, building railways, mines, and even schools and hospitals across their extensive land granted via treaty. This period of prosperity, and even relative peace, came to an end when Zhang took his forces headlong into the Civil Wars raging to the south, and defeats at the hands of his enemies came at a cost to the Manchurian economy. The fighting eventually brought the Fengtian economy to the brink of collapse, and while this was by no means as bad as it could have been, the untimely death of Minister Wang made prospects of rapid recovery unrealistic.
The cornerstones of Fengtian's economy are steel, coal, and soybeans, the last of which serves as a source of both food for export and oil for industrial purposes. Given the relative resource scarcity in the Japanese Home Islands, Manchurian resources are crucial to Japanese industry, and thanks to Mantetsu's efficiently run railroads, these rapidly make their way south to Dairen, and from there to the rest of the Empire.
In 1936, Fengtian boasts a stronger economy than most other Chinese factions, with the exception of the Qing Empire, which has German backing. A matter of particular concern is the increasingly pervasive presence of Mantetsu, which is no longer limited to the old railway zones, and competes with government oligarchs for control of utilities and transportation while maintaining a near monopoly on manufacturing and farm ownership. The fundamental question is whether Zhang and his state can eventually operate without the presence of this beneficial but controlling corporation, as well as widespread Japanese investment with its many strings attached.
Culture in Fengtian is extremely diverse as a consequence of its many recognized ethnic groups which include Han Chinese, Manchu, Koreans, Japanese, and Russians. While at times standing true to the spirit of the "Five Races Under One Union" motto, socio-economic stratification by race is clearly visible if intensely complex, with Manchus clearly at the bottom, but Han Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Russian situations varying by circumstance.
Han Chinese make up the vast majority of the population in Manchuria as well as its government, and while forced to respect Japanese extraterritoriality, this rarely translates into deference or even amity. As the majority, Han can be found at virtually every level of society, from the poorest beggar to the Grand Marshal himself. They regularly compete with Japanese in finance and trade, but less commonly in technical areas like engineering, with most working in industry, mining, or the fields. Han Chinese tend to regard all other groups as intruders, excluding Manchu who are truly native to the area. All the same, thanks to centuries of Qing rule, they have little respect for these few Manchu who didn't flee to Puyi's regime, and many see them as little better than spies or saboteurs.
Those intellectuals and artists who didn't flee to the Legation Cities or AOG made their way to Fengtian, and the capital hosts a small but active community, albeit one limited by the risk of appearing to foster dissent. Because of active efforts by the Japanese to promote their own culture and customs in Manchuria, the Chinese government tolerates these individuals and sometimes goes so far as to commission patriotic art and music.
Japanese, thanks to treaties granting extraterritoriality and strong influence over the government, are in most respects the most powerful group in Manchuria. Although generally barred from office, Japanese of any considerable social standing are more or less free to operate without constraint and tend to exploit their position as much as possible. As the primary conduit through which modern technology reached Manchuria, Japanese tend to occupy roles as architects, engineers, and businessmen, with the majority working for the South Manchuria Railway Company, also known as "Mantetsu". Other Japanese serve in the military as officers or as advisers to the government, as school teachers, or as high-class servants to their more affluent countrymen. A smaller minority of Japanese are landowners and farmers who arrived searching for opportunity, or simply a new life, outside the Home Islands.
For all their exploitation, Mantetsu and the Japanese government are careful not to push other groups too far in their drive for control and profits and sometimes limit Japanese who risk pushing attitudes from resentment into open hostility. Ultimately, Japan sees Manchuria as the key to control of the rest of China, a vital market for exports, and a valuable source of raw materials. Efforts have been made to slowly push Japanese culture and norms onto the people of Fengtian, in the hopes that this will eventually result in a less unfriendly relationship, and the easier realization of long-term goals.
Koreans maintain a position above some of society thanks to their Imperial citizenship which grants them legal extraterritoriality, but Koreans are generally looked down upon by Japanese, Han Chinese, and Russians. The largest minority in the country, Koreans tend to be rice farmers and little else, competing for land and profits with indigenous Chinese which often sparks low-level conflict between the two groups. While most Chinese look down on Koreans, and though they receive a measure of protection from their citizenship, resentment burns strongest against their colonial overlords. Because most Koreans are skilled rice planters, but Soybeans are a desirable cash crop, Mantetsu has recently begun an effort to educate Koreans in Soy farming, the response to which has been mixed.
Russians in Fengtian make up a smaller proportion of the population than only a decade ago, many arriving during the middle stages of the Russian Civil War and leaving with the stabilization of Transamur, though the core community has roots centuries old. Thanks to the superiority the Western Powers enjoyed in the past century, and in many respects still do in 1936, Russians are usually greeted with a mix of deference and resentment. Many Japanese, particularly in recent years, tend to regard them poorly, though many Han Chinese recognize the long presence of Russians in Harbin and some other northern towns. Russians tend to be small land and business owners, often with financial and social ties to Transamur.
Manchu are the original native population in Fengtian, the Manchurian region being named after them, and tend to regard all other groups as invaders. Some, however, have made concerted efforts to assimilate, and effectively act as part of the Han population. Most Manchu, however, are those who refused to flee to the Qing Empire because of ties to land, family, or fear of direct capture and persecution by the government. Manchu are often assumed to be nomadic, but this isn't strictly speaking the case, and most are simply hunters and farmers concentrated in communities outside major cities. This misconception seems to arise from their long tradition of, and excellence in, the arts of riding and archery. The Fengtian Army has been known to conscript Manchu at a young age to form cavalry regiments, sometimes inflaming pre-existing animosity.