This timeline concerns the internal political developments of China.
In August 1912 the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) was founded by Song Jiaoren, one of Sun's associates. It was an amalgamation of small political groups, including Sun's Tongmenghui.
In the national elections held in February for the new bicameral parliament, Song campaigned against the Yuan administration, whose representation at the time was largely by the Republican Party, led by Liang Qichao. Song was an able campaigner and the Kuomintang won a majority of seats.
Song Jiaoren is assassinated, and Yuan Shikai is blamed.
In April he secured a Reorganization Loan of 25 million pounds sterling from Great Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Japan, without consulting the parliament first. The loan was used to finance Yuan's Beiyang Army.
On May 20 Yuan concluded a deal with Russia that granted Russia special privileges in Outer Mongolia and restricted Chinese right to station troops there.
Kuomintang members of the Parliament accused Yuan of abusing his rights and called for his removal.
On the other hand, the Progressive Party (Jìnbùdang), which was composed of constitutional monarchists and supported Yuan, accused the Kuomintang of fomenting an insurrection. Yuan then decided to use military action against the Kuomintang. In July seven southern provinces rebelled against Yuan, beginning the Second Revolution, fought between Yuan and the KMT (and allies).
The leading Kuomintang military force of Jiangxi was defeated by Yuan's forces on August 1 and Nanchang was taken. On September 1, Nanjing was taken. When the rebellion was suppressed, Sun and other instigators fled to Japan.
In October an intimidated parliament formally elected Yuan Shikai President of the Republic of China, and the major powers extended recognition to his government.
Duan Qirui and other trusted Beiyang generals were given prominent positions in the cabinet. To achieve international recognition, Yuan Shikai had to agree to autonomy for Outer Mongolia and Tibet. China was still to be suzerain, but it would have to allow Russia a free hand in Outer Mongolia and Tanna Tuva and Britain continuation of its influence in Tibet.
In November Yuan Shikai, legally president, ordered the Kuomintang dissolved and forcefully removed its members from parliament. Because the majority of the parliament members belonged to the Kuomintang, the parliament did not meet quorum and was subsequently unable to convene.
Bai Lang Rebellion begins (and continues till late 1914)
Yuan consolidates his position, accumulating more powers for the Presidency (laying the groundwork for becoming Emperor).
Sun established the Chinese Revolutionary Party in July, but this causes a great deal of discontent in republican circles due to its required centralisation and loyalty to Sun.
Yuan's actions gain the opposition of both Sun's Kuomingtang/Zhonghúa Gémìngdang due to his conflict with them, the Progressive Party due to Yuan's undemocratic actions, provincial governors due to his imperial aspirations, and generals in his Beiyang Army by centralizing tax collection from local authorities.
The Weltkrieg begins.
Japan fights on the Allied side and seizes German holdings in Shandong Province.
The Japanese set before the government in Beijing the so-called Twenty-One Demands, aimed at securing Japanese economic controls in railway and mining operations in Shandong, Manchuria, and Fujian. The Japanese also pressed to have Yuan Shikai appoint Japanese advisors to key positions in the Chinese government. The Twenty-One Demands would have made China effectively a Japanese protectorate, and in violating the unwritten "Open-Door Policy" strain relations with the United States and Great Britain.
The Beijing government rejected some of these demands but yielded to the Japanese insistence on keeping the Shandong territory already in its possession. Beijing also recognized Tokyo's authority over southern Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia. Yuan's acceptance of the demands was extremely unpopular, but he continued his monarchist agenda nevertheless.
Yuan, supported by his son Yuan Keding, declares himself emperor of a new Empire of China. - 12 December
This sent shock waves throughout China, causing widespread rebellion in numerous provinces. On 25 December former Yunnan governor Cai E, former Jiangxi governor Li Liejun and Yunnan General Tang Jiyao formed the National Protection Army and declared Yunnan independent. Thus began the National Protection War.
Yunnan's declaration of independence also encouraged other southern provinces to declare theirs. Yuan's Beiyang generals, who were already wary of his imperial coronation, did not put up an aggressive campaign against the National Protection Army.
On 22 March Yuan formally repudiated monarchy and stepped down as the first and last emperor of his dynasty. He died on 6 June.
Vice President Li Yuanhong assumed the presidency and appointed Beiyang Gen. Duan Qirui as his Premier. Yuan Shikai's imperial ambitions finally ended with the return of republican government.
This marks the formal beginning of the Warlord Era.
The Provisional Constitution was reinstated and the parliament convened.
However, Li Yuanhong and Duan Qirui had many conflicts, the most glaring of which was over China's entry into the Weltkrieg. Since the outbreak of the war, China had remained neutral until the Britain urged all neutral countries to join the Allies, as a condemnation of Germany's use of unrestricted submarine warfare. Premier Duan Qirui was particularly interested in joining the Allies as an opportunity to secure loans from Japan to build up his Anhui clique army. The two factions in the parliament engaged in ugly debates regarding the entry of China and, in May 1917, Li Yuanhong dismissed Duan Qirui from his government.
This led provincial military governors loyal to Duan to declare independence and to call for Li Yuanhong to step down as President.
Li Yuanhong then summoned Zhang Xun to mediate the situation. Zhang Xun had been a general serving the Qing Court and was by this time the military governor of Anhui province. He had his mind on restoring Puyi (Xuantong Emperor) to the imperial throne. Zhang was supplied with funds and weapons through the German legation, which was eager to keep China neutral.
On July 1, Zhang officially proclaimed the restoration of the Qing dynasty and requested that Li Yuanhong give up his presidency, which Li promptly rejected. Duan Qirui led his army and defeated Zhang Xun's restoration forces in Beijing. On July 12 Zhang's forces disintegrated and Duan returned to Beijing. The Manchu Restoration ended almost as soon as it began. During this period of confusion, Vice President Feng Guozhang, also a Beiyang general, assumed the post of Acting President of the republic and took his oath of office in Nanjing. Duan Qirui resumed his post as the Premier.
The Zhili clique of Feng Guozhang and the Anhui clique of Duan Qirui emerged as the most powerful cliques following the restoration affair.
Duan Qirui's triumphant return to Beijing essentially made him the most powerful leader in China.
Duan dissolved the parliament upon his return but strong opposition from Feng Guozhang and the inaction of the United States prevents Duan from declaring war on Germany (a position that proved more prudent as the war dragged on with no sign of an American intervention followed by revolution in Russia).
The New Culture Movement begins around this time.
In September Duan's complete disregard for the constitution caused Sun Yat-sen, Cen Chunxuan and the deposed parliament members to establish a new government in Guangzhou and the Constitutional Protection Army to counter Duan's abuse of power. This included the Yunnan Clique of Tang Jiyao as well, which was aligned with Sun. Ironically, Sun Yat-sen's new government was not based on the Provisional Constitution; rather, it was a military government and Sun was its Generalissimo. Six southern provinces became part of Sun's Guangzhou military government and repelled Duan's attempt to destroy the Constitutional Protection Army.
Yunnan clique, led by Tang Jiyao, align with Sun Yat-sen’s military Government. Under the name of Jingguojun or “National Pacification Army”, Yunnan clique militarily conquered and controlled Guizhou and Sichuan during the Constitutional Protection War.
The Constitutional Protection War continued through 1918.
Many in Sun Yat-sen's Guangzhou government felt his position as the Generalissimo was too exclusionary and promoted a cabinet system to challenge Sun's ultimate authority. As a result, the Guangzhou government was reorganized to elect a seven-member cabinet system, known as the Governing Committee. Sun was once again side-lined by his political opponents and military strongmen. He left for Shanghai following the reorganization. The Guangzhou Military Government was now headed by Cen Chunxuan, as chief executive.
Duan Qirui's Beijing government did not fare much better than Sun's. Some generals in Duan's Anhui Clique and others in the Zhili Clique did not want to use force to unify the southern provinces. They felt negotiation was the solution to unify China and forced Duan to resign in October. In addition, many were distressed by Duan's borrowing of huge sums of Japanese money to fund his army to fight internal enemies.
President Feng Guozhang, with his term expiring, was then succeeded by Xu Shichang, who wanted to negotiate with the southern provinces. Feng would go on to die of illness in December 1919. Cao Kun would become the leader of the Zhili Clique.
In February delegates from the northern and southern provinces convened in Shanghai to discuss post-war situations. However, the meeting broke down over Duan's taking out Japanese loans to fund the Anhui Clique army, and with the Constitutional Protection War essentially leaving China divided along the north-south border.
France is defeated. Germany begins its occupation and redirects forces to the remaining fronts.
The Anhui Clique general Xu Shuzheng leads a military expedition to Outer Mongolia, which had recently declared independence, forcing them to rescind their previous declaration of autonomy granted by Yuan Shikai. - November 17
The Old Guangxi clique opposed Sun Yat-sen and controlled Guangdong. In October Sun Yat-Sen re-established the Kuomintang to counter the government in Beijing and to oust the Old Guangxi Clique from the Southern government, this marks the beginning of the Second Constitutional Protection Movement.
With Japanese troops in Qingdao, and their claims backed by treaty with China, the Japanese delegation at the Copenhagen Conference insists that their more recent agreement supersedes Germany’s earlier claims. Seeing this insistence as a potential spoiler to the very much desired end to the war, the British delegation does not support Japanese motions to retain the Shandong concessions after German refusal in the first round of negotiations. Feeling isolated and insulted, the Japanese delegation walks out of the conference, and the government in Tokyo officially denounces the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Japan does not sign the Armistice, and remains formally at war with the Central Powers.
As per the terms of Copenhagen, Germany acquires French possessions in China, including Guangzhouwan.
The Beijing Government, under a succession of warlords, still maintains its facade of legitimacy and its relations with the West – the diplomatic corps being a major factor in this.
A local conflict between the Sichuan and Yunnan Cliques breaks out; it is won by the Sichuan warlords who unite against the external threat.
Duan's rivals Cao Kun and Wu Peifu of the Zhili clique moved to corner him by organizing an alliance of military leaders, including Zhang Zuolin of the Fengtian Clique, who also opposed Duan. They also engineered the dismissal of Duan's key subordinate Xu Shuzheng on July 4. In retribution, Duan forced the new president to dismiss both Cao and Wu even though there was no possible way to actually remove them from their posts. He also renamed his army the "National Pacification Army" and mobilized them for war with the Zhili Clique and its supporters, triggering the Zhili-Anhui war - Zhili Clique emerged victorious after a brief conflict. Duan stepped down as Premier and was replaced by his protégé Jin Yunpeng.
The military governor of Guangdong, Chen Jiongming gathered his forces with support from Fujian. Chen Jiongming, a member of the Guangzhou government and politically a centrist federalist, was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the authoritarian drift of Sun’s premiership.
Lu Rongting and Cen Chunxuan used the Zhili victory as a pretext to explore unification with the Zhili Clique. The KMT denounced these secret negotiations and the southern parliament moved to Yunnan in August and in Sichuan from September to October. Tensions between the Yunnan clique and the Guangxi clique allowed Chen to invade on August 11 in the Guangdong-Guangxi War. Chen Jiongming expelled the Old Guangxi Clique from Guangzhou allowing Sun to return by the end of November.
Ungern's troops crossed the northern border of Outer Mongolia on October 1, 1920 and moved south-westwards, towards the Mongol capital, Urga. He was supported by Mongols who sought independence from Chinese occupation, especially the Bogd Khan, who secretly sent Ungern his blessing for expelling Chinese from Mongolia.
Parliament reconvened in Guangzhou on January. Of the remaining four executives, Tang Jiyao had to remain in Yunnan to protect his province, Wu Tingfang was ailing, and Tang Shaoyi was becoming uninterested. In April, the National Assembly dissolved the military government and elected Sun Yat-sen "extraordinary president".
But the new Guangzhou government, without any foreign recognition, was beset with questions of legitimacy as its form existed outside of the constitution it was mandated to protect.
Chen invited anarchists, syndicalists, and federalists to Guangdong, which made Sun unhappy. The relationship between Chen and Sun further deteriorated. One of the radicals invited by Chen Jiongming is Peng Pai, a young anarchist, he started a peasant movement in Hai-Lu-Feng under the auspices of Chen, who also came from Hai-Lu-Feng.
On February 4, Ungern completed his assault on the Chinese positions in Urga, taking the city. On March 13, 1921, Mongolia was proclaimed an independent monarchy under the theocratic power of Bogd Khan, or the 8th Bogd Gegen Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, with Ungern as dictator.
Gu Pinzhen, a Yunnan general returned from the failed Sichuan campaign, launched a coup against Tang Jiyao. Tang fled to Guangzhou while his loyal troops led by Long Yun retreated to South Yunnan.
In Guangzhou, Sun Yat-sen initially persuade Tang to serve his national revolution. However, Chen Jiongming convinced Tang that Tang should go back to Yunnan and Chen will support Tang’s campaign. Chen did this mainly because he didn’t want Tang increases Sun Yat-sen’s power and threatens his dominance in Guangdong, also he wanted to enlist Tang in his federalist movement. Lu Rongting wanted to retake Guangdong, but the instability in Sino-Vietnamese border caused by German takeover in Indochina refrained him from doing so, the historical second Guangxi-Guangdong war didn’t break out.
The Weltkrieg finally ends with the "Peace with Honor" signed between the remaining Entente powers and Germany and its allies. Germany reneges on its previous stance of neutrality in the Russian civil war and intervenes in support of the Whites.
With German colonies in its grasp and the British Empire greatly weakened, Japan stands to be the sole dominant power in China; the Kaiserliche Marine unable to risk deploying the bulk of its fleet so far from home. At the same time, Japan is now internationally isolated and without a clear ally. While this may not be an immediate concern, there is little question that Japan will eventually need to face both a recovered Imperial Germany and the rising industrial power of the United States.
An opportunity arises when the American McAdoo administration calls for the reconstitution of the lapsed Six-Power Consortium, which during its existence had monopolized foreign loans and investments to the Chinese central government. On paper, the purpose of reviving this 'China Consortium' is to promote peaceful collaboration amongst world powers and contribute to the economic development of East Asia. In reality, the agreement risks undermining Japan's already strong hand on the continent, especially if Japan is excluded and left to compete with consortium as a whole. Sensing the true nature of the proposition, London supports Washington, and Berlin expresses its own interest. Concerned, but realizing that an agreement could both avoid isolation and firmly guarantee at least some of Japan's gains in China, Tokyo agrees to negotiate on the condition that Manchuria be excluded from the revived consortium, permitting Japan continued monopoly of the Manchurian economy. However, the existing technical state of war between German and Japan still complicates the initiative, and neither side will accept any agreement that may appear to be a recognition of the others' claims to the Shandong Concession.
After months of negotiation, an agreement for a return to the pre-war territorial status-quo is reached. Japan's 'existing special interests' are explicitly excluded from the activities of the now-called Second China Consortium. Japan and Germany sign a separate peace treaty, in which no reference to the Shandong Concession appears, while Japan's 'special interests' in Manchuria are recognized by Germany. In essence, Japan and Germany trade the Shandong concession for the recognition of Japanese interests in Manchuria. In Japan this diplomatic deal, trading all conquests from Germany for verbal recognition of long-established interests, proves to be unpopular, and the agreement is derided as a "Second Triple Intervention" by opponents, in reference to the humiliating experience of 1895 where similarly conquered territory was denied to Japan by a diplomatic intervention from Russia, Germany, and France. In November, as the last Japanese troops evacuate the city of Tsingtau and the surrounding areas.
[It is important to note that the May Fourth Movement is nowhere near as extensive in KTL as OTL due to the following: - The scale of the infraction, compared to the territory seized by Japan in Shandong it is marginal; - Non involvement in the War meant the Duan govt wasn't snubbed by the Entente powers; they weren't promised anything. No insult. - No 14 Points; US prominence OTL is absent, as is the diffusion of Woodrow Wilson's ideals of national self-determination. ]
Chen Duxiu is exposed to Syndicalism via the French Concession in Shanghai and becomes a prominent activist in the putative Chinese movement.
Li Dazhao along with many other left leaning individuals join Sun Yat-Sen's KMT based in Guangzhou, Wang Jingwei becoming the leader of the increasingly dominant left wing of the KMT.
Having jointly seized Beijing in 1920, the Fengtian and Zhili cliques controlled the nominal government of northern China. Tensions soon began building between the two cliques in their uneasy coalition government. The Fengtian clique replaced Premier Jin Yunpeng with Liang Shiyi without getting the prior consent of their partner, the Zhili clique.
While the Zhili clique had secured the backing of the Germans (they had been vocally opposed to Duan’s attempts to take China into the war on the side of the Entente), with the Fengtian leader was backed by Japan.
The Japanese government had once supported the Anhui clique, but had switched their focus to the Fengtian soon after the change of power, but kept their ties with the Anhui.
On December 25, 1921, a cabinet under Liang Shiyi’s leadership was formed with strong support from Zhang Zuolin, whereupon the new cabinet immediately granted amnesty to six former cabinet members of the Anhui clique. The Zhili clique strongly opposed the plan but were overruled.
The conflict further intensified as the new cabinet refused to give some $3 million in military budgets previously promised to the Zhili clique. As a result, Wu Peifu and other Zhili clique members forced Liang Shiyi to resign on January 25.
With the pro-Fengtian clique cabinet having collapsed only a month after its formation, Zhang Zuolin threatened to resolve the conflict by force. Troops were deployed on April 10, though Wu Peifu and his Zhili clique did not formally denounce their opponent until April 25.
This marked the start of the First Zhili-Fengtian war - in which the Fengtian clique was soundly defeated by mid-May, Wu Peifu making a name for himself as one of China’s foremost military minds.
German missionaries convinced the Zhili clique that the German consul at Luanzhou could broker a peace treaty to terminate hostilities. The German consul suggested a general outline to Zhang Zuolin, whereby he would withdraw all troops from the region inside Shanhaiguan and Zhili forces would cease giving chase. On June 18, representatives from both sides signed the peace treaty aboard a German warship anchored off the coast of Qinghuangdao, agreeing the general guideline suggested by the German consul. Shanhaiguan subsequently became the border between the two cliques, ending the First Zhili–Fengtian War with a resounding Zhili victory.
The Fengtian clique retreated back to Manchuria, while the Zhili armies led by Wu Peifu took control of the central government in Beijing.
Tang Jiyao gathered his force to retake Yunnan. Gu Pinzhen was killed in the battle. The remnant of Gu Pinzhen’s troop, led by Yang Ximin and Fan Shisheng, fled to Guangdong and offered their help to the KMT. Gu’s loyal officers in Kunming, including Jin Handing, Tang Zhunyuan, and Zhu De, fled to Sichuan. Jin Handing and Tang Zhunyuan joined Sun Yat-sen’s force in Guangdong while Zhu De, tired of wars, went to Germany to seek a political solution to China.
After the First Zhili-Fengtian War, there was a strong movement to reunite the northern and southern governments by having both Sun Yat-Sen and Xu Shichang resign their rival presidencies in favor of restoring Li Yuanhong as president of a united republic. Chen was enthusiastic but Sun felt the new government would be a powerless puppet of the Zhili clique.
Sun Yat-sen and Chen Jiongming soon split over the continuation of the Northern Expedition. Sun conceived it to have begun with the occupation of Guangxi. From there he wished Chen to push into Hunan.
Chen wanted to pursue the peaceful unification of China and this proved to be the final straw that broke his alliance with Sun.
After Wu Peifu of the Zhili clique in Beijing recognized his power in the south, Chen abandoned Sun. Unexpectedly revolting against the Kuomintang militarily, Chen led his forces to attack Sun's residence as well as office. Chen forced Sun to escape on a ship and delay his Northern Expedition. Chen had received assurances from the Zhili that Guangdong would be left in his control, enabling him to pursue his goal of building a Model Province to act as an example to the others, furthering the goal of a federal China.
Xiong Kewu defeated Liu Xiang and Yang Sen in Sichuan province.
Sun Yat-sen's Guangzhou government is recognised by the Commune of France as the legitimate government of China, and begins to receive aid from the Syndicalists. This is largely due to 2 reasons:
1. The influx of socialists into the party made entryist policies the most promising method of spreading the revolution in Asia. 2. The recent revolt of Chen made a Zhili dominated China very likely; and the Zhili's backers were the Germans, France's enemy. This was deemed to be unacceptable to the CGT, who were looking to assert themselves more on the international stage after winning their civil war.
Tang decided to invade Guangxi instead of Guizhou. The Yunnan-Guangxi war broke out. Old Guangxi clique was defeated by Yunnan troops but Tang didn’t have the capability to fully control Guangxi. New Guangxi clique rose in the chaos after the retreat of Yunnan army and establish their ties with Tang.
With the help of the Yunnan forces, the KMT retake Guangzhou. Chen fled to Huizhou in eastern Guangdong after Sun's army defeated him. Sun Yet-sen, now returned to Guangzhou rebuilds the military government. He has become more amenable to the left wing of the party due to the French aid which contributed to the victory over Chen and the consolidation of power in the south.
Sichuan erupts into civil war - Wu Peifu and the Zhili Clique supports Yang Sen in his efforts to return to Sichuan.
Cao Kun acquires the Presidency by openly bribing assembly members with 5,000 silver dollars each. This episode brings disrepute to the Beiyang government and its assembly, which lacked a quorum to even hold elections. It turned all the rival factions against him and his own Zhili clique began suffering from dissension. Relations with his chief protégé, Wu Peifu, soured and there were rumours of an impending split within the Zhili clique but they stayed together due to the threat posed by the Fengtian clique.
One of his first acts as President was to promulgate the 1923 constitution of China. Hastily drafted by the assembly, it was deemed the most democratic and progressive yet, but like previous charters it was ignored completely.
Yunnan troops, unable to control the chaos, retreat from Guangxi.(This is what happened historically with Tang’s occupation in Guizhou in 1924) The New Guangxi Clique, with the assistance of KMT and Tang, put the resistance of Lu Rongting's Old Guangxi Clique and other bandit groups to rest and unified Guangxi.
Conflict develops over the control of Shanghai, China's biggest city and port, which was legally a part of Jiangsu province under the control of Zhili General Qi Xieyuan. However, the city was actually administered by Lu Yongxiang as part of Zhejiang, the last province under the control of the dying Anhui clique (technically Anhui-held territories, including Shandong, were allowed to exist so long as they remained neutral).
In September fighting broke out when Zhejiang authorities refused to cede administration of the city to Qi Xieyuan. Zhang Zuolin and Sun Yat-sen pledged to defend neutral Zhejiang, expanding the conflict to the far north and far south. Indeed, the Fengtian clique was eager to avenge its defeat at the hands of the Zhili clique in the last war and had prepared intensively, both in military terms and politically, organising an anti-Zhili coalition with the KMT and Anhui as well as Zhili General Feng Yuxiang (who would soon enact the Beijing Coup).
On September 15, Zhang Zuolin led his Fengtian army to Manchuria's borders and engaged the army of Wu Peifu, the Zhili clique's greatest strategist. On September 18 the opposing armies met, with battle drastically intensifying after September 28. Fengtian assaults on Shanhaiguan were thrown back as Zhili forces took up defensive positions and enjoyed geographical advantages.
Meanwhile, as agreed previously, Sun Yat-sen personally led his army north to prevent Sun Chuanfang, ‘the Nanking Warlord’ and ruler of much of eastern China, from reinforcing his Zhili comrades in the north, but A rebellion by the Canton Merchant Corps and Chen Jiongming loyalists broke out in Guangzhou. Sun Yat-sen was forced to turn back to put down this rebellion in his home territory.The leaders of the Merchant Corps fled to Hongkong after KMT suppressed them.
While a minor skirmishing continued the battle in the north, the southern campaign proved to be the first major conflict fought by cadets and officers trained at the Whampoa Military Academy (the KMT military academy which had been organised with French assistance).
Since Sun Yat-sen retreated, Sun Chuanfang's armies were left available to take both Zhejiang and Shanghai.
During October successful maneuvering by Fengtian forces in the north forced Wu Peifu to commit more forces to the fight, but a general stalemate emerges later in the month between the two sides.
On October 22 Feng Yuxiang, betrayed his superiors by mounting the Beijing coup against President Cao Kun. Cao was deposed as president and placed under house arrest for the next two years.
Upon receiving news of the coup, the infamous "Dog-Meat" warlord Zhang Zongchang of Shandong threw his support behind the Fengtian clique, putting them into a favourable military position.
Wu Pufei, still at the Shanhaiguan front, was enraged and pulled his army away to rescue Beijing. Seeing an opening, Zhang Zuolin ordered his army to pursue Wu. Zhang Zongchang and Li Jinglin led their troops southward along the Luan River, toward Luanzhou, where they pushed on toward Tianjin.
On October 18 Zhang Zongchang’s troops took the train station at Luanzhou (making particular use of armoured trains and foreign mercenaries) which helps secure the Fengtian clique's final victory.
Wu Peifu retreated to Tianjin, where, cut off from reinforcements due to interference by Yan Xishan - warlord of Shanxi province, Wu was forced to sail to central China, where Sun Chuanfang protected him from further Fengtian incursions.
All of north China was divided between the Fengtian clique and Feng Yuxiang, whose forces were renamed as the Guominjun (Nationalist Army). Zhang Zuolin took the prosperous northeast while Feng Yuxiang was left with the poor northwest.
Feng Yuxiang placed Huang Fu as acting president of the Beijing government. He initiated several reforms on Feng's behalf including the expulsion of Puyi from the Forbidden City and abolishing the role of the old bell and drum towers as the official timepiece. However, Huang refused to guarantee foreign privileges and Zhang Zuolin became despondent at his one-time ally. The only major agreement Feng and Zhang made was to dissolve the discredited National Assembly and create a provisional government with the pro-Japanese but relatively competent Duan Qirui as its head.
After Pu Yi was expelled from the Forbidden City, he took up residence in the German concession in Tianjin (the Germans were supporters of the Zhili and Feng Yuxiang had ties to Japan at the time which made Puyi wary of seeking their help.)
Suspecting Peng Pai’s experiment in Hai-Lu-Feng is too connected to KMT/French Commune, Chen decided to stop and suppress it. Peng Pai turned to KMT and became a leading figure in its agrarian socialist wing. However, this wing is not wholeheartedly supported by KMT and French Commune and Peng’s proposal of setting up Guangzhou Peasant Movement Training Institute (PMTI) was rejected. Generalissmo Chiang Kai-shek claimed that such movement will only bring chaos and anarchy in the countryside and refrained agrarian socialists from their experiment.
Plans were made to hold negotiations for national reunification between Feng, Zhang, Duan, and Sun Yat-sen, with Sun travelling to Beijing.
The Bogd Khan dies on May 20. Ungern took control of the Bogda Khan's imperial seal, declaring himself regent, until the next reincarnation was found.
The anti-Zhili coalition's efforts for a negotiated unification were fruitless and Sun dies of cancer in Beijing in March.
After the death of Sun, the KMT's leadership is contested by Tang Jiyao, leader of the Yunnan Clique, but ultimately he decides not to fight acting generalissimo Hu Hanmin for the position, keeping his strength in Yunnan as a result of his failed military adventure in Guangxi. Instead, Tang invaded and occupied Guizhou to increase his financial revenue to rebuild his army. Tang also began to use anti-syndicalist rhetorics.
After Tang, the three most powerful figures in the Kuomintang were Wang Jingwei, Liao Zhongkai and Hu Hanmin.
Liao Zhongkai was notably in favour of maintaining close relations with the Commune of France as well as the Chinese Syndicalist movement, which was strongly opposed by the KMT right wing, backed principally by the New Guanxi clique. Liao was nearly assassinated before a Kuomintang Executive Committee meeting on August 20.
Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Jingwei seized the opportunity to execute Xu Chongzhi and Hu Hanmin after finding evidence of their involvment. The Rightists repudiated these claims, with a steady exodus of the right to the safety of Yunnan alongside Tang. However, the party remains unified, with no split occurring as of yet – Chinese Unification came first.
Wang Jingwei assumes the position of generalissimo and Chiang became commander of the KMT's military. Liao Zhongkai becomes acting president of the southern KMT Republic. KMT forces of the New Guangxi Clique and Guangzhou Revolutionary Government launch a concerted assault upon Deng Benyin and Chen Jiongming, thus unifying Guangxi and Guangdong.
Yang Sen, with the support of Wu Peifu's Zhili Clique, launched an attack aimed at uniting Sichuan - and was defeated when Tang Jiyao's Yunnan Clique intervened in Sichuan. Guangzhou sent Yang Ximin to Sichuan for support.
The May Thirtieth movement and Canton–Hong Kong strike tales place. Chinese Syndicalists take a prominent role, as does the KMT (many of the few Chinese Syndicalists by now are also members, or collaborators with the KMT). Causes a great deal of disquiet amongst the remaining right wing of the Kuomingtang.
The British Revolution throws its empire into chaos, and the retreat of the East China Station to Australia to put down insurrection leaves its concessions in China largely unprotected. The Nationalist Government in Guangzhou declares its intent to retake Hong Kong, leading Governor Claud Severn to contact the German Governor-General of Indochina, in order to solicit support from Guangzhouwan to ensure the concession's safety. The Germans are all too happy to comply, and within a matter of days over 3,000 German troops take up positions in Kowloon and the New Territories, with the prospect of prompt reinforcement.
Berlin soon unilaterally extends this offer of protection to all of Britain’s concessions in China until the restoration of “responsible British Government” could be ensured, an offer soon echoed by virtually every power with a presence in the country. In what would soon come to be called the “Shanghai Scramble”, German and Japanese troops begin a series of standoffs across the remaining concessions, re-igniting tensions ostensibly extinguished with the Tsingtau Accord only three years prior. The American “China Marines” and 15th Infantry Regiment soon join the bloodless struggle, later followed by token forces from Austria and Transamur. Though Austrian and Russian forces depart after only two months, this general state of affairs persists for nearly two years, as the respective sides delineate informal areas of control and regularly butt heads; interrupted only briefly by the Northern Expedition’s attempt to take the city in 1926.
Chen Jiongming rises against the Guangzhou regime again, but is defeated and flees to Hong Kong as his remaining forces were nearly completely wiped out. From there he establishes ties with Tang Jiyao's Yunnan Clique, which is beginning to distance itself from the KMT leadership.
Zhu De, studying military tactics in Germany, became a social democrat despite some initial interest in syndicalism. He returned to China and joined his old Yunnan friends in the NRA 3rd army.
Wu Peifu established the Coalition of Fourteen Provinces in central China based around his Zhili Clique.
Germany, concerned of the imminent push by the French backed KMT to unify the country, contacts Wu Peifu with the intention of planning to interfere directly in the civil war in China.
The 2nd Zhili-Fengtian War had left an unstable triumvirate of Feng (Guominjun) Duan (Anhui) and Zhang (Fengtian).
Throughout the summer of 1925 both Zhang and Feng began soliciting help from their former Zhili enemy, Wu Peifu. Seething at Feng's earlier betrayal during the Beijing coup, Wu sealed an alliance with Zhang in November.
In October, Guo Songling, a division commander of the Fengtian clique, defected to Feng's Guominjun clique. From November 22 he began to lay siege to Mukden. This started formally the Anti-Fengtian War, which pitted the Guominjun against a coalition comprising the Zhili and Fengtian.
Chiang Kai-shek sought to convince Sun Chuanfang to also defect, though to the Kuomintang. Sun, who was affiliated with Wu Peifu's Zhili clique, was a popular target to woo; having recently fought against Zhang's armies, he was openly unhappy about his enforced alliance with the Fengtian clique. Sun, however, refused and executed Chiang's emissaries. Chiang retaliated in turn by executing Sun's envoys.
Sun Chuanfang, who had been sharing dual control of Shanghai with the Fengtian Clique attacks Zhang Zhongchang and drives Zhang from the city and into Shangdong province. Sun expanded his rule to include all of Jiangsu, Fujian, Anhui, and Jiangxi. He established his headquarters in Nanjing as military governor of Jiangsu on 25 November, inaugurating the League of Five Provinces.
On December 24, in a stunning reversal of fortune, Guo's siege of Mukden was lifted by the intervention of the Japanese Kwantung Army, and Guo was killed. The Guominjun began haemorrhaging soldiers, both from fighting and desertion, as it tried to hold off the combined armies of Wu Peifu, Zhang Zuolin, Li Jinglin and Zhang Zongchang. Then the ruler of Mongolia, Baron Ungern von Sternberg is brought in to the alliance, through ties to his and Zhang’s mutual sponsors the Japanese.
The New Culture Movement can generally be considered to 'end'.
By early 1926, the war was going badly for the Guominjun and, on March 8, they blockaded and mined Dagu harbour in defence of Tianjin. On March 12, a Japanese warship bombarded the Taku Forts in support of the Fengtian offensive, killing several Guominjun troops guarding the forts. In retaliation, Guominjun troops fired back and drove the warship out of the Tanggu harbour. The act was treated by Japan as a violation of the Boxer Protocol, signed in 1900 in the aftermath of the Boxer Rebellion.
Four days later, ambassadors representing eight countries that were signatory nations to the Protocol sent an ultimatum to the Beiyang Government under Duan Qirui. The demand was that the Duan government should destroy all defence establishments on the Taku Forts.
A demonstration was organized in front of the Tiananmen Gate on March 18. Li Dazhao, the leader of the demonstrators, made an emotional address. He called for an end to all unequal treaties signed between China and the foreign powers, in addition to expelling the foreign ambassadors who issued the ultimatum. The Nationalist army, who were based in Guangzhou at the time, was urged to confront possible imperialist incursions since the Beiyang Government was unwilling to do so.
Duan Qirui, who was worried about the situation becoming destabilized, ordered an armed military police to disperse the protesters. The confrontation led to violence, of which 47 protesters were killed and more than 200 injured. Li Dazhao was also wounded during the massacre. This leads to a backlash by the warlords against nationalist and syndicalist agents, and against the Duan presidency by the public.
Though Duan expressed his remorse at the brutal suppression of the protests, the Guominjun removed him from office the next month.
In April, and in order to appease the Zhili clique, the Guominjun released the deposed ex-president Cao Kun, who had been put under arrest by Feng in 1923. Wu did not respond. Zhang Xueliang, had his army occupy the capital on May 1 which they sacked, causing much chaos and leading to the collapse of much of the Beiyang government's bureaucracy. Wu's forces would arrive later.
Ungern seizes Guominjun held Inner Mongolia. Guominjun troops tried to flee through Shanxi, but the Shanxi clique led by Yan Xishan maintained a very strict neutrality policy and attacked any soldiers that encroached their borders. Yan, an ex-Tongmenghui member, was sympathetic with the Guominjun but did not want his province drawn into civil war. Guominjun armies are defeated in North China, remnants of which are incorporated by the Shanxi Clique, the remainder of Feng's forces retreated to Zhangjiakou where his army became known as the Northwest Army.
Sensing an opportunity, the KMT Government launches the Northern Expedition July 9th. Chiang gave a lecture to 100,000 soldiers of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) in a ceremony that was the official commencement of the Northern Expedition. The NRA was set up by cadets trained in the Whampoa Military Academy; its soldiers were better organized than many of the warlord armies they faced due to their military advisers and were equipped with French weapons. In addition, the NRA believed itself a progressive force on behalf of ordinary people, who were persecuted and mistreated by warlords, and the NRA troops did receive a warm welcome and strong support from peasants and workers who had suffered under the brutal rule of the warlords.
In addition to this they had the assistance of a number of French military advisers, and a well-respected unit of Red Russian exiles led by the famous Russian General Vasily Blyukher (many Bolsheviks who operated in the far east theatres of the Russian Civil War ended up in the service of either the Guominjun or NRA, although few joined the former after the Anti-Fengtian War).
Confident of victory, as the KMT arguably had the best motivated and led military in China at the time, they surged north against the warlord armies of Wu and Sun.
Perceiving the expedition as Syndicalist due to French aid, and as a threat to the existing order in China, the concessions garrisons are placed at a heightened state of alert.
The previous year, Germany had contacted Wu Peifu with the intention of directly intervening on the Zhili side of the war, and direct action by the Japanese had done little to ward off the Kaiserreich – if anything hawks managed to sway the Chancellery of von Tirpitz that if they did not act quickly, China would fall into the hands of either the agents of France or Japan. With the fracture of the British Empire, the poor state of Russia, and isolationism of the Americans, military strategists were not particularly concerned by most of their geo-political enemies in Europe and East Asia.
Ultimately, the German imperial cabinet decided that the cost of inaction would be too high (and the potential benefits too high to pass on) and Germany began to prepare for action in the Far East.
Direct German involvement formally began on July 15.
By mid-July, the Ostasienschwadron was deployed from Singapore to blockade the south China coast, halting the flow of support from the French to the KMT, forcing them to use back channels to get supplies through.
German forces from Indochina landed at Hong Kong, and made rapid progress northward, as most of the KMT forces were either engaged in Hunan or advancing towards Nanking, and they soon seized the KMT's formal capital at Guangzhou.
Although the KMT pushed through Hunan province and laid siege to Wuchang (as Wu's strength was focused on the north - preparing for war against his erstwhile allies in Fengtian) that soon stalled as they were forced to withdraw forces to defend their southern border.
Chiang's army however, continued its rapid push for Nanjing, doing considerable damage to Sun's warlord armies (his forces were also slightly divided, Zhang Zongchang remained in Shandong and although allies, Sun was wary of a possible betrayal), until German troops under the command of Falkenhausen redeployed from Qingdao join up with Sun's forces and turn the tide of battle south of Nanjing. Chiang never takes the city.
Tang Jiyao realized that Germany was a huge threat to his rule in Yunnan and took an absolute isolationist policy during the German intervention. While Germany didn’t bother with attacking Tang, they also didn’t like him. Tang decided to centralize power and increasingly relied on his brother, Tang Jiyu, rather than his experienced generals.
New Guangxi Clique kept half of their troops in Guangxi during the Northern Expedition, they, led by Huang Shaohong, retreated to northern Guangxi to resist German intervention. Lu Rongting landed in southern Guangxi and tried to gather some troops. Guangxi was contested by them.
Chen Jiongming returned from Hong Kong and gathered his forces in eastern Guangdong. He won the support of the merchant corps and the local gentries disgruntled by KMT with his regionalist rhetoric. He was also recognized by the Northern warlords. Chen’s supporters ruthlessly suppressed Hai-Lu-Feng peasant movement and killed Peng Pai. Although Chen tried to intervene and stop them, he finally acquiesced their brutality.
Following this disaster, a number of rightist KMT members assassinate Chiang, in revenge for the betrayal of Hu Hanmin. It is not known whether they are operating under orders from Chen Jiongming or the New Guangxi (who lead their forces back to their home province to engage in an ultimately hopeless battle to regain it).
Demoralized by their failure to take Wuchang and the fall of Guangzhou, talk of desertion begins to spread throughout the ranks of the KMT forces in Hubei, Hunan, and Guangdong. Once scattered reports begin arrive from Chiang's retreating forces, this only worsens, and chaos ensues as various units defect, desert, or outright disintegrate. This prompts much of the leadership to flee abroad, either to France or to the newly established socialist regime in Calcutta, India. Some forces stubbornly hold out, but the last major NRA force surrenders in February. KMT activists retreat into the coastal concessions and countryside, where they continue to foment rebellion.
In the Northern Theatre of the fighting, Wu Peifu's forces arrive at Beijing and, rather than join in the general looting of the city that the Fengtian forces are engaged in, sweep into the city, turning on their erstwhile allies, securing what remains of the Beiyang Assembly. This marks the start of the Third Zhili-Fengtian War.
Supported by the Germans operating out of Qingdao and Tianjin, and utilising the element of surprise to its fullest, Zhili forces make great inroads into Fengtian territory. Zhang Zuolin counter attacks but the fighting enters a stalemate with Beijing firmly in Zhili hands.
Renewed pressure upon the Northwest Army leads to the group's final defeat, with the territory being divided by the Shanxi, Zhili and Mongols. Feng surrenders to Yan and the Northwest Army is incorporated by the Shanxi fully.
In Shandong, Fengtian warlord Zhang Zhonchang, considering his position untenable, declares for Wu but maintains a neutral stance in the war, still weakened from the last conflict with Sun. Shandong sees relatively little combat during 1926 and becomes a popular destination for refugees fleeing the wars in the north and south. A relatively small Chinese folk religious sect that emerged from the Xiantiandao, the Yiguandao (I-Kuan Tao), rose to prominence providing for the refugees and poorer local community. The most high profile group was led by Zhang Tianran.
Wu Peifu, at German insistence, pressures the remaining members of the Beiyang Assembly to declare the restoration of the Xuantong Emperor and call for the formation of a new government. All international treaties are announced to be upheld, but those made during the interregnum between 1911 and 1926 are declared illegitimate, notably including the Twenty One Demands. For roughly the next two years the Zhili/Qing military government in Beijing rules by fiat.
Reasons for doing so certainly vary, from pressure from the Zhili, genuine rightists who respect the Zhili for victory against the KMT, spite against the recent Fengitan actions (more republican elements had fled along with Zhang's forces into Manchuria) and gratitude to Wu and the Germans.
The Germans for their part, looked on the state of Republican China and, desiring a more ‘stable’ partner to deal with, had requested Wu restore Puyi – intercine factional politics gave them little confidence of that, hence the demand.
The Sichuan warlords expel Yuan Zuming, allowing Yang Sen to return to Sichuan with support from Wu Peifu.
Ungern breaks from the Japanese when he seizes parts of Inner Mongolia from the Fengtian.
After weeks of stalemate at Shanhaiguan and Jiumenkou, and with Zhili reinforcements moving northward, Zhang Zuolin and Wu Peifu agree to a ceasefire in early January. With peace largely restored and expenses mounting, the majority of German forces withdraw, leaving a military mission in Beijing under Falkenhausen and substantial garrisons in the still-disputed British concessions.
Eager to take advantage of their substantially improved position in China, the German government enters negotiations for further concessions from the Qing government. Wu Peifu rejects these out of hand, though Sun Chuanfang is found to be far more receptive. The confidential nature of the discussions, incidents around the existing concessions, and the complex situation in Eastern and Southern China slows them considerably. Over the next several years, these discussions form the foundation for the so-called “AOG”. With the help of the Germans, Sun expands into the former KMT provinces in the south of China, nominally enlarging his League to 8. However, in reality, Chen Jiongming takes control in Guangdong, while Guangxi is governed by Lu Rongting.
Worried by Germany’s position, Japan begins pushing Zhang Zuolin to resume the war and retake Beijing, providing extensive equipment while secretly using its contacts on the continent to help loop others into alliance against Wu Peifu. Yan Xishan in Shanxi is particularly receptive, followed by Tang Jiyao in Yunnan and Zhang Zhongchang in Shandong.
Several incidents occur in and near the international concessions in Hankou, Shanghai, and Tianjin, leading to an escalation of tensions between Japanese and German garrisons, as well as provincial Chinese forces. Japanese shipments of weapons to Zhang Zongchang in Shandong are discovered by German agents, leading to formal protests from Berlin, Washington, and Beijing. Much of the remainder of the year is spent consolidating, rebuilding, and preparing by both sides.
Following the death of Chiang. The NRA quickly disintegrated. While the left-wing generals like Zhang Fakui and Xue Yue tried to lead their troops to the coastal area and fled to France, the centrist/right-wing generals of NRA discussed their future in Chang Sha, Hunan. They decided that they would return to the South and prepare to reconquer China. They underestimated the attrition on the way back.
When the exhausted and desperate NRA forces fled to Hunan-Guizhou border, Tang tried to deny their entrance. However, Long Yun and other three generals, disgruntled by Tang’s dictatorship and nepotism, wanted to use this guest force to counter-balance Tang’s dominance and suggested Tang open the door. Fearing the possibility of a coup and also worried about the rising Zhili dominance, Tang allowed these combined force, including his rival, the former Yunnan troops of Gu Pinzhen, to enter Guizhou and Yunnan.
The NRA 4th army, known as the Iron Army, disintegrated in Jiangxi after decimated by Germany. Commander Zhang Fakui and Ye Tin led some loyal troops to follow Wang Jingwei and fled to France, while Chen Mingshu and Chen Jitang led the rest of the 4th army back to Guangdong. They are absorbed by Chen Jiongming’s force and became the backbone of Chen’s officer corps.
Guangxi was still contested by the Old Guangxi Clique and the New Guangxi Clique. Li Zongren and Bai Chongxi tried to retreat to Guangxi and reinforce the New Guangxi Clique there. However, in order to show his allegiance to the restored old order, Chen decided to help Lu to take back Guangxi. The Liangguang combined force defeated the New Guangxi Clique and restored the rule of Old Guangxi Clique.
Tang Jiyao and Yunnan clique didn’t intervene in Guangxi civil war, but they offered sanctuary to the defeated New Guangxi Clique.
Sichuan Rehabilitation Conference - Yang Sen was selected as the military governor of Sichuan.
In March Shanxi declares the Qing government illegitimate, followed by Yunnan, in an arrangement designed to re-ignite the war. Fengtian and its allies immediately mobilize, but Zhang Zongchang reneges on his prior agreements, using his newly supplied Japanese arms to consolidate his own rule instead. Nonetheless, a substantial Qing force garrisons Jinan for the duration of the conflict.
Expecting most hostile forces to be occupied in the North and East, a Shanxi expedition striking south to take Luoyang is surprised, cut off, and eliminated by a superior Qing army, while Tang Jiyao’s troops are bogged down in the mountains of Sichuan and Western Hunan. With a breakthrough nearly impossible at Shanhaiguan, as it had been four years earlier, the war thus enters a stalemate.
Tang Jiyao joined Anti-Zhili coalition and declared war against Zhili. He led his force to invade Sichuan, while former NRA forces attacked Hunan and New Guangxi clique attacked Guangxi. Despite some initial victories in Sichuan and Hunan, their command structure was extremely messy and thus failed. Tang had to recognize the restoration. However, Yunnan still had an enough formidable army to deter Sun Chuanfang’s attempt to invade it.
By April, in attempts to shift the war in their favor, both Germany and Japan provide increasingly direct assistance. German-piloted aircraft appear over Beijing, and Japanese divisions wearing Chinese uniforms reinforce Fengtian. After nearly two months of fighting, Qing forces make a breakthrough at Yangquan, threatening Yan’s capital at Taiyuan, and bringing him close to dropping out of the war.
As Qing divisions move West and North, and the economy takes a turn for the worse, a certain level of lawlessness returns to areas of Eastern China, quickly exploited by KMT holdouts, bandits, and “sword societies” such as the Red Spears. By July, foreigners become frequent targets.
When a train travelling from Shanghai to Tianjin is derailed outside Suzhou and its occupants kidnapped by LEP deserters, the Japanese garrison in Shanghai seizes the opportunity to mount a “rescue expedition”. Thanks to the unilateral nature of the action, little to no prior warning provided by the Japanese, and the ongoing war to the north, Chinese and Japanese forces quickly escalate into a shooting war before superiors in Nanjing, Shanghai, or Tokyo are notified. Beijing lodges a fierce protest at the violation of their sovereignty, and riots break out in the Jiangnan region, but more importantly Germany threatens to intercede. For nearly forty eight hours the conflict looks likely to escalate even further as the sides assess the situation and the foreign ministries in Berlin and Tokyo frantically aim to avoid war.
A solution emerges when the United States offers to mediate, and though fighting continues between the Chinese factions elsewhere in China, a ceasefire is organized for the area surrounding Shanghai. This mediation comes at a cost, with the Americans insisting on a “permanent solution” to the balance of power conflict in East Asia in addition to a de-escalation of the immediate crisis. Though this gives the United States a stronger hand than it ought to have in determining the course of regional affairs given its recent plunge into depression, both Germany and Japan are eager to avoid further escalation. The result of preliminary talks is a call for an American-mediated conference in Shanghai involving all foreign powers with treaty commitments in China, though the primary players are Germany, Japan, and the United States. Talks are almost ended before they begin when Germany and Japan insist upon Canadian non-participation due to the “lack of a responsible British government”, leading American delegate Quentin Roosevelt to suggest the Canadian delegation participate in an “observational role”. An original proponent of the conference in Washington, Quentin goes on to play a major role in the negotiations in the footsteps of his father thirty years before.
What had began as an attempt to merely resolve conflicts in China and East Asia, the conference further develops into a comprehensive restructuring of the relationship between China and the international powers, heavily shaped by the American insistence on “Open Doors” through which all nations can trade equally with China. The success of the agreement, creating an International Mandate for the Chinese Concessions, is dependent on Japan’s hopes to avoid further international isolation, German desires to expand influence in China without further significant military commitment, and American aspirations to preserve their own position despite a public with little desire for military adventurism.
The new International Mandate, commonly referred to as the “Legation Cities” after the Legation Quarter in Beijing where its existence was formally declared, subsequently exists as an expanded and modified version of the earlier “International Settlement” in Shanghai; each city retaining its historic national districts but operating under a shared governor or local municipal council, themselves in turn theoretically subordinate to the “Consular Council” representing the interests of each member state. In addition, the powers agree to bring about an end to the ongoing conflict in China, bringing both sides to sign an armistice, and the Cliques in Shanxi and Yunnan to recognize the Qing government in Beijing. The Fengtian Clique stands as an exception, signing the armistice but refusing to recognize the Qing as legitimate thanks to Japanese insistence.
Shortly afterward, the Zhili and Shanxi-Fengtian coalition to agree to a cease-fire under mediation from Germany and Japan. The cost is the end of the Shanxi-Fengtian allaince, and Yan Xishan recognising the return of Qing rule (and acknowledging Zhili power).
The result of this is that the larger warlord cliques (the LEP, Yunnan, Sichuan, the Ma's & Xinjiang’s Yang Zengxin) swear allegiance to the Qing Empire, exceptions being the Tibetans and Mongols, as well as Zhang Zuolin's Fengtian. In doing so the compliant warlords are able to keep their autonomy.
In response to the 4th Zhili-Fengtian war, Guangdong and Guangxi decided to strengthen their ties. Guangdong garrisons retreated from Guangxi. Lu Rongting felt the need for modernization. Receiving advice from Chen, Lu invited Ma Junwu, a celebrated scientist, and educator, to lead the civil administration of Guangxi while general Ma Ji took the responsibility of army modernization. They signed The Treaty of Liangguang Mutual Defense and Assistance. By its term, Guangdong and Guangxi respect the autonomy of each other and cooperate to protect and facilitate their autonomy.
Zhang Zuolin instead establishes the Fengtian Government (of the Republic of China) declaring the Empire illegitimate. The Qing do the same for the Republic.
The newly reconvened National Assembly in Beijing held the first elections of the restored Qing Empire. The election followed the procedure of previous Republican elections: the poll which was indirect, voters chose some 30,000 electors who chose about 2,000 members of the provincial assemblies and 596 members of the House of Representatives. 274 members of the Senate were elected by the members of the provincial assemblies who were elected in 1909. Adult males over the age of 21 who were educated or owned property and paid taxes and who could prove two-year residency in a particular county could vote. An estimated 40 million, 4-6% of China's population were registered for the election. The Senate was elected by the provincial assemblies. The premier had to pick the 108 members representing Tibet, Mongolia, Manchuria and Overseas Chinese due to practical reasons. However, these elections had the participation of over 300 civic groups and were the first since 1921 and most competitive nationwide elections since 1913.
The pro-Zhili Progressive Party won an overwhelming majority, due to an abundance of bribery and lack of opposition – the Anfu Club had collapsed in support coming a distant second, while the KMT were outlawed and not allowed to participate and the Communications Clique had gone with Zhang Zuolin to form a new Assembly in the Fengtian regime. Cao Kun is made Premier (at Wu’s direction); his time under arrest by Feng Yuxiang had weakened him both physically and mentally, reducing him to less of a credible rival to Wu as leader of the Zhili Clique (his brother, Cao Rui, committed suicide while under house arrest – this had a profound effect on Cao Kun) and his appointment was thus that of a unity candidate within the Zhili. Representatives from Guangdong are made up of the Zhi Gong (Public Interest) party of Chen Jiongming who support the Zhili government because Cao has promised federal reforms. Representatives from Yunnan and Guizhou stand as independents.
The result of the Yunnan’s failed war against Zhili is that the former NRA forces had to stay in Yunnan. The Yunnan forces from NRA, led by Zhu Peide, Jin Handing and Fan Shisheng, united and called themselves Yunnan National Foundation Army(Jianguo Dianjun). Tang Jiyao refused to share any power with them. However, nobody wanted to be ruled by Zhili so they maintain a delicate cooperation. Yunnan National Foundation Army controlled an area in Yunnan-Guizhou border area to support themselves while New Guangxi Clique stationed in Yunnan-Guangxi border.
Wu Peifu returns his base of operations to Luoyang (because of its great strategic security compared to Beijing) and despite not having taken the position of Premier instead opting for head of the Imperial Army, he still controls the government.
The first meeting of the Board of the Allgemeine Ostasiatische Gesellschaft(AOG) is held, marking its beginning as an umbrella organisation for German commercial interests in China, centered on the East Yangtze (Jiangnan).
After surviving and attempted assasination by the nephew of one of his many victims, Zhang Zhonchang is heavily influenced by the Shangqing and is eventually initiated into Yiguandao by Zhang Tianran himself. Contemporary claims were made that the "filial murder" might have been part of a plan set up by a local Zhili governor to remove Zhang as a political rival.
Zhang Tianran declared himself the 18th Master of I-Kuan Tao. The movement has firmly established itself in Shandong, reducing corruption and improving the local economy as a result. Banditry is practically non-existent as the forces of Zhang Zhongchang keep the peace, supported by many emerging local paramilitary militias of I-Kuan Tao followers. The German concession of Qingdao appreciates this added security and the movement is looked on favourably by the German colonial authorities, despite some of the I-Kuan Tao's stronger anti-imperialist rhetoric.
Border conflicts between New Guangxi clique and Old Guangxi clique. Chen and Zhao Hengti, the governor of Hunan, mediated the Yunnan-Guangxi conflict. A cordial agreement between Southwestern cliques was reached.
Cao Kun’s Premiership focused mainly on bringing in elements of his 1923 Constitution into the new Qing model, which established greater provincial autonomy, but still fell far short of full federalism – this leads the Zhi Gong to withdraw support for the government. He remains a divisive figure though, and although acceptable to the Zhili faithful, the legacy of the bribery scandal deepens cracks appearing in the Progressive Party.
The Unity Party is the first to split from the Progressives, with Zhang Binglin as leader. The Democratic Constitutionalist Party are next to break off from the Progressive Party, with liberal figures rallying around the figure of Kang Youwei who is calling for a more representative constitutional monarchy, with power held not by the military cliques but balanced between the monarch and the National Assembly.
Carsun Chang also forms the China Democratic League, but their activity is limited by the authorities.
The German military mission helps in re-establishing the Baoding Military Academy. This, in conjunction with an exchange program for young officers being sent to Germany, begins to form a putative officer corps separate from the Zhili faction.
Yang Zengxin, governor of Xinjiang, discovers that his interior minister, Fan Yaonan, is secretly an assasin sent by the Kuomintang. He quickly fires him, with Fan trying to escape but being hunted down by Yang's protege, Jin Shuren. Crisis in the stable Xinjiang clique was averted.
Flooding happened in Changjiang River and Huaihe River basin.
Zhang Tianran begins to more openly criticise the warlordism that has plagued China and in particular blames the Zhili Clique and Wu Peifu in particular for the state of China. He denounces the Republic as an impure failed experiment and argues for traditional values to be returned in China as a whole. While not explicitly mentioned, many assume this means his loyalty lies with the Qing Emperor.
Kuomintang led riots in the LEP, centered on Hangzhou, are put down violently by Sun Chungfang's forces and AOG security. Several of Sun's junior warlords resent being directed in the operations by the AOG military mission, it just being one of the most recent examples of the control the AOG has come to have in the LEP.
Chen Jiongming significantly reduced the size of Guangdong army to invest in the economic reconstruction of Guangdong.
Yunnan is also burdened with an absurdly huge military force. Tang Jiyao proposed an army reduction plan, but no one including himself in Yunnan really supported it so it failed.
Thubten Gyatso, the 13th Dalai Lama, died.
The 9th Jebtsundamba Khutughtu, Jampal Namdol; the Jampal Khan is born and discovered in Tibet, moving to Mongolia where he is installed as Khan. Ungern continues his regency.
The 1933 Elections see a much reduced Progressive Party retain a wafer thin majority. Cao Kun retains his Premiership.
Tang made another attempt to attack Sichuan, but was deterred by LEP. Yunnan resorted to expanding opium plantation to solve its abysmal financial problem.
Kang Youwei dies, he is replaced as leader of the DCP by Zheng Xiaoxu.
The Germans, seeking to prop up Puyi against Wu in the north, begin to channel weapons and supplies to the Shangqing. By this time the faith has begun to spread out of Shandong province and now has sizeable sects in both north and south China.
Yang Zengxin of the Xinjiang Clique health continues to decline, and he is mostly bedridden. He spends as much time as possible teaching Jin Shuren how he runs the province, but it seems to mostly fall onto deaf ears.