Yuan Shikai

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Yuan Shih-k'ai
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Biography in English

Yuan Shih-k'ai (16 September 1859-6 June 1916), Peiyang militarist and high Ch'ing official who succeeded Sun Yat-sen as president of the Chinese republic in 1912. After ridding Peking of Kuomintang influence, he attempted to establish a constitutional monarchy.

The forebears of Yuan Shih-k'ai had risen to prominence as civil officials and military leaders during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Hsiangch'eng, Honan, the native hsien of the Yuan family, bordered on the home region of the Nien rebels. Yuan's great-uncle, Yuan Chia-san (ECCP, II, 949-53), played an important part in the government campaigns against these rebels in the 1850's and 1860's. Assisting Yuan Chia-san in these military campaigns were such members of the family as his son Yuan Pao-heng (1826-1878; T. Chen-shu, H. Yu-wu), a chin-shih of 1850 who later went with Tso Tsung-t'ang (ECCP, II, 762-67) to northwest China and then served at Peking in 1876-78 as vice president of the Board of Punishments, and his nephew Yuan Pao-ch'ing (1829-1873), a chu-jen of 1858 who later held various posts in Shantung and Kiangsu. While other members of the family were engaged in fighting the Nien rebels. Yuan Shih-k'ai's father, Yuan Pao-chung (d.l875; T. Shou-ch'en), remained at the family seat to organize local defenses against the marauders.

Yuan Shih-k'ai, the fourth of six sons born to Yuan Pao-chung, was adopted by his father's younger brother. Yuan Pao-ch'ing, in 1866. After spending several years in Shantung and then at Nanking, where his adopted father died in 1873 while serving as acting salt tao-t'ai. Yuan Shih-k'ai returned to his native place. He then went to live in Peking under the supervision of Yuan Pao-heng and other uncles until 1878, when he returned to Hsiangch'eng. By that time, he had become a high-spirited youth who spent his leisure hours in horseback riding and other robust pursuits. Although he had been trained since childhood in the Chinese classical tradition of scholarship and had become a licentiate, he had no real liking for the conventional education that would prepare him for the civil service examinations. After failing the examinations for the chü-jen degree in 1876 and 1879, he decided to seek advancement through other channels. In 1880 he purchased the title of expectant secretary in the Grand Secretariat and went to Tengchow, Shantung, the military headquarters of Wu Ch'ang-ch'ing (1834-1884; T. Hsiao-hsuan), who was in command of the maritime defenses of Shantung province. Wu had been a close friend of Yuan Pao-ch'ing, and he gave Yuan Shih-k'ai a position on his staff on the strength of that relationship.

The Korean Years

Yuan Shih-k'ai's first call to active military service came in 1882, when trouble flared in Korea. After the signing of the Japanese- Korean treaty of 1876, Japanese influence had begun to challenge Chinese suzerainty over Korea, while in Seoul itself there raged a fierce struggle for power between the king's father, the Tai Won Kun, and the Min family, led by the queen, who had gained ascendancy over the weak and indecisive king. In July 1882 the Tai Won Kun seized power in Seoul. During this coup d'etat rioters, stirred up by the Tai Won Kun, attacked the queen's supporters at the palace and then destroyed the Japanese legation, forcing the Japanese minister, Hanabusa Yoshimoto, and his staff to flee the city. News of the disturbance quickly reached Peking and, before the Japanese minister could return to Seoul with an escort of Japanese troops, the Chinese government ordered Wu Ch'angch'ing to rush his soldiers to Korea in an attempt to stabilize the political situation. Wu dispatched 3,000 men, including Yuan Shih-k'ai, to the Korean capital.

Under Wu Ch'ang-ch'ing's direction, peace was restored to Seoul, the leaders of the coup were arrested, and the Tai Won Kun was seized and shipped off to China, where he was held at Paoting until the summer of 1885. Much of the success of the Chinese operation was the result of the efforts of such members of Wu's staff as Ma Chien-chung (1844-1900; T. Mei-shu), Chang Chien (q.v.), and Yuan Shih-k'ai. On Wu's recommendation. Yuan was made an expectant subprefect by the Chinese government. He remained on Wu's staff in Korea as his deputy in charge of foreign affairs, and when Wu was transferred to Manchuria in the spring of 1884, he left Yuan in command of three Chinese divisions in Korea. Meanwhile, at the request of the Korean king. Yuan had begun to train Korean troops, which he organized as the Hsin-chien ch'in chün [newly created royal guard troops] and the Chen-fu chün [pacification troops]. After the outbreak of 1882, the Chinese government had adopted a policy of intervention in Korea in an attempt to reassert China's suzerainty over that country and to counteract the growing encroachments of other powers, especially Japan. Li Hung-chang (ECCP, I, 464-71) directed the implementation of this policy. The presence in Korea of both Chinese and Japanese troops, however, exacerbated the already bitter tensions between pro- Japanese progressives, who wanted an independent Korea, and pro-Chinese conservatives, who wanted to retain Korea's traditional ties to China. Violence erupted on 4 December 1884 when, on the occasion of the opening of the new post office in Seoul, a group of Korean radicals staged a coup d'etat, attacked the conservative cabinet ministers, formed a new cabinet, and appealed to the Japanese for help in the name of the king. The Japanese minister responded by dispatching a company of Japanese soldiers to guard the king and protect the radicals in the palace. The conservative Min faction, having been ousted from power, turned to Yuan Shih-k'ai and the Chinese garrison for help. Yuan led a force of 2,000 men to the palace, rescued the Korean king, and forced the Japanese minister and his troops to retire from Seoul. The resulting strain on Sino-Japanese relations was relieved for a time when Ito Hirobumi met with Li Hung-chang at Tientsin and negotiated the Tientsin Convention of April 1885, by which both China and Japan agreed to withdraw their garrisons and military instructors from Korea.

Although the Tientsin Convention virtually acknowledged Japan as China's equal in Korea, Li Hung-chang continued his efforts to regain for China the paramount position there. As his chief instrument for carrying out his policy, Li chose the 26-year-old Yuan Shih-k'ai, who had proven himself an energetic and resourceful subordinate. In August 1885, after a leave of several months in China, Yuan returned to Korea. On 30 October he was appointed commissioner of commerce and Chinese resident in Korea. For the next nine years he used his influence as China's ranking representative in Korea to reestablish China's ascendancy over the Korean government and to minimize the influence of Japan, Russia, and other foreign powers. Such was his success that he was able to obstruct the Korean government's attempt to establish diplomatic relations with Great Britain and other European nations and to persuade it to ban the sale of Korean rice to Japanese merchants. However, Yuan's aggressive and somewhat high-handed actions stirred resentment in the Korean government and aroused antagonism among the Japanese. After the Tientsin Convention of 1885, Japan had followed a policy of relative inaction in Korea. By 1892, however, the Japanese government had begun protesting that China was seeking to monopolize trade and communications in Korea. A more serious threat to Chinese interests, however, was that posed by the rabidly anti-foreign Tonghaks (Tung-hsueh tang), members of an ultra-conservative politicoreligious society whose purpose was the expunging from Korea of all traces of alien culture. In July 1894 Tonghak uprisings broke out in the south and moved swiftly northward. Although the Korean government was able to suppress the revolt, it requested military assistance from China. At the urgent request of Yuan Shih-k'ai, Li Hung-chang reluctantly dispatched some 1,500 troops to Korea. This was the first in a series of events that led to the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in July 1894. On 19 July, only a few days before hostilities began. Yuan left Seoul secretly and boarded a ship for Tientsin, thus bringing to an end a period of 12 years' service in Korea. During much of this time, Yuan had wielded great influence in Korea; working in this atmosphere of rivalry and intrigue had taught him many valuable lessons in the art of diplomacy and in the manipulation of political and military power.

Pei-yang Ta-ch'en

On his return to China, Yuan Shih-k'ai was appointed intendent of the Wenchow-Ch'uchow circuit in Chekiang, but he did not take up the duties of this post. At the request of Li Hung-chang, he assisted Chou Fu {see under Chou Hsueh-hsi) in supervising the transportation of military supplies to the Chinese forces fighting the Japanese in Korea and Manchuria. By war's end. Yuan had won the confidence of such influential Manchu officials in Peking as Jung-lu (ECCP, I, 405-9) and I-k'uang (Prince Ch'ing). As a result of the defeat by Japan, the Manchu court recognized the urgent need for military reforms. At the suggestion of Jung-lu, Yuan Shih-k'ai began work on a manual of modern Western methods of military training. The resulting (Ch'ih-chin) Hsun-lien tsao-fa hsiang-hsi Cu-shuo, which favored the use of German training methods, was presented to the throne in 1899.

In December 1 895 Jung-lu and other members of the Grand Council recommended that Yuan Shih-k'ai be chosen to organize and train a modern military force. Later that month, Yuan was appointed to succeed Hu Yü-fen (d. 1906; T. Yun-mei) as commander of the Pacification Army (Ting-wu-chün), which had been organized during the Sino-Japanese war. Yuan's new command, renamed the Newly Created Army (Hsin-chien lu-chün), was stationed near Tientsin at Hsiaochan, the military encampment formerly used by the famous Anhwei Army (Huai-chün) of Li Hung-chang.

Although derived from the Anhwei Army in several respects, especially personnel, the Newly Created Army differed from the regional armies formed during the Taiping Rebellion in that it was financed by, and hence was dependent upon, the central government at Peking. Nevertheless, like the leaders of the earlier armies, Yuan was able to foster among his men a strong sense of personal loyalty to him. Under his direction, the Newly Created Army was expanded from about 4,000 to about 7,000 men. Most of the new men were recruited from the northern provinces of Shantung, Honan, Anhwei, and Kiangsu. With the assistance of German military officers, he established officer training schools and reorganized his troops along modern Western lines into units of infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers. He also instituted a modern military staff system, and he appointed his old friend Hsü Shih-ch'ang (q.v.) chief of staff and T'ang Shao-yi (q.v.) as secretary to staff headquarters. In the course of building up the Newly Created Army, Yuan Shih-k'ai frequently was subjected to criticism. On one occasion, in the spring of 1896, he was impeached by a censor on charges of extravagance in his management of the establishment at Hsiaochan. However, Jung-lu, who was sent by the imperial court to investigate the charges, was much impressed by the smart appearance of Yuan's troops, and he sent in a report which praised Yuan's achievements. That Yuan enjoyed the favor of the Manchu court was demonstrated further by his appointment as provincial judge of Chihli in July 1897. He also was regarded with favor by reformers because he had declared his support of the Ch'iang-hsueh-hui, a reform group that had been organized by K'ang Yu-wei (q.v.) and his associates.

In 1898, during the Hundred Days Reform, Yuan Shih-k'ai was promoted to the rank of board vice president by the young Kuang-hsü emperor. Soon afterwards, T'an Ssu-t'ung (ECCP, II, 702-5) tried to enlist his help in staging a coup to oust the empress dowager and the conservatives and to place the emperor and the reform faction in complete control of the government. Yuan is generally believed to have divulged this plot to Jung-lu, the leader of the empress dowager's faction. Jung-lu took counteraction that brought a sudden end to the reform movement, removed the emperor from power, and restored the empress dowager to her former position of undisputed authority. Although Yuan later prepared a wu-hsü jih-chi, or diary, in which he tried to absolve himself of responsibility for the fate of the Kuang-hsü emperor and the reformers, it should be noted that after the conservative action of September 1898 he became a favorite of the empress dowager and that in June 1899 he was made junior vice president of the Board of Works.

Late in 1898 Jung-lu, then in command of all military forces in north China, reorganized military units in that area as a single army, the Guards Army (Wu-wei-chün). This new force consisted of five divisions : the Front Division, formerly the Tenacious Army (Wu-i-chün) of Nieh Shih-ch'eng {see under Feng Kuo-chang) ; the Rear Division, formerly the Kansu troops (Kan-chun) of Tung Fu-hsiang (1839-1908; T. Hsing-wu) ; the Center Division, a newly organized unit of bannermen under the direct command of Jung-lu; the Left Division, formerly the Resolute Army (I-chün) of Sung Ch'ing (ECCP, II, 686-88); and the Right Division ( Wu-wei yu-chün) , formerly the Newly Created Army of Yuan Shih-k'ai. Of these five divisions, most of which were made up of old-style troops, Yuan's Right Division, still stationed at Hsiaochan, was by far the best trained and equipped. In May 1899 a detachment of his troops was transferred to Shantung to reinforce local units, then beset by German encroachments from Kiaochow and by increasing unrest, particularly the anti-foreign outbreaks of the Boxers (I-ho-t'uan). The Boxer disturbances in Shantung increased in frequency and violence, and diplomatic pressures by foreign governments resulted in the December 1899 recall of the anti-foreign governor, Yühsien (d.l901; T. Tso-ch'en). Yuan Shih-k'ai was ordered to Shantung as acting governor; he took the bulk of his division with him.

During the Boxer Uprising of 1900 Yuan Shih-k'ai sought to follow a course of non-involvement in the pro-Boxer activities of the imperial court. Despite repeated injunctions from Peking to deal mildly with the Boxers, he firmly suppressed their uprisings in Shantung and succeeded in forcing the Boxers to retreat into Chihli. Evading imperial commands to send his troops to bolster anti-foreign forces in Peking, he joined with Chang Chih-tung (ECGP, I, 27-32) and Liu K'un-i (ECCP, I, 523-24) in keeping the central and southern provinces free of Boxers and at peace with foreign powers. Thus, in contrast to other units of Jung-lu's Guards Army, which suffered heavy casualties in fighting both Boxers and foreign troops, Yuan's division not only was preserved intact but also was expanded to include some 26 new battalions in Shantung. In July 1901 these forces were augmented further by the transfer to Yuan's command of the crack Self-Strengthening Army (Tzuch'iang-chün), originally organized by Chang Chih-tung.

As commander of the largest military force in north China and as one whose anti-Boxer policies in Shantung had made him acceptable to the foreign powers. Yuan Shih-k'ai was the logical choice to direct the defense organizations of the war-ravaged metropolitan area after the imperial court returned from Sian to Peking. With the death of Li Hung-chang in November 1901, Yuan was appointed to succeed his former mentor as governor general of Chihli and as Pei-yang ta-ch'en, or high commissioner of military and foreign affairs in north China. During the six years he held the powerful post of Pei-yang ta-ch'en. Yuan was responsible for administering many of the post- Boxer reform policies adopted by the Manchu regime. As governor of Shantung, Yuan had begun to introduce reforms in education, industry, and commerce, and he had placed his reform programs under the direction of such proteges as T'ang Shao-yi and Ghou Hsuehhsi (q.v.). Yuan brought his assistants with him to Chihli at the end of 1901 and assigned them to initiate and direct numerous modernization projects in Chihli. A collection of his official papers of the 1901-6 period, the Pei-yang kung-tu lei-tsuan, compiled by Kan Hou-tz'u and published in 1907, gives a fairly clear idea of Yuan's activities in Chihli.

Yuan Shih-k'ai's principal concern, however, was military reform. On his recommendation a new standing army was authorized, and in the autumn of 1902 he began to organize its first new divisions. Late in 1903 the impending Russo-Japanese conflict in Manchuria spurred the Manchu court to accelerate its military reform program; in December 1903 it set up a commission for army reorganization (Lienping-ch'u) to coordinate the training of provincial armies. This commission was modelled on the provincial staff that Yuan had organized in Chihli, and Yuan himself, as associate director of the new commission (the nominal head was Prince Ch'ing), was its dominating spirit. In September 1904 the court approved the commission's detailed plans for creating a new army patterned after Yuan's divisions. This new force, known as the Peiyang Army (Pei-yang lu-chün), had come to include six full divisions by February 1905. During this period. Yuan also organized a police force to patrol Tientsin and other cities under his jurisdiction and established a police academy (Hsün-ching hsueh-t'ang) in Tientsin staffed with foreign instructors. In the autumn of 1905 the Manchu court accepted Yuan's proposal for the establishment of a Board of Police (Hsün-ching-pu) and his recommendation to place at its head his close associate Hsü Shih-ch'ang. About this time, at his vast military encampment at Paoting, Chihli, Yuan set up a network of training schools including a staff college and a military academy to train his officers in modern military techniques.

As Pei-yang ta-ch'en. Yuan Shih-k'ai had at his disposal both the political authority and the finances needed to expand his military power. Although a severe disciplinarian, he was popular with his troops because he showed a personal interest in their well-being and was careful to see that they were paid regularly. With the expansion of the forces under his command, he was able to grant rapid promotions to his proteges and thus to command their loyalty. A number of his subordinates who had been with him since the formation of the Newly Created Army, such as Tuan Ch'i-jui, Feng Kuo-chang, and Wang Shih-chen (qq.v.) , became commanders of the first new Peiyang divisions. These and other senior officers under his command, including Ts'ao K'un, Chang Hsün (qq.v.) , Lu Yung-hsiang, and Ni Ssuch'ung, owed their subsequent rise to prominence as mihtary or pohtical leaders to the fact that they had been Yuan's proteges. With these subordinates, Yuan was able to create a web of close interpersonal relationships that was to be a major factor in the development of his own military power and of the northern or Peiyang military clique.

Yuan Shih-k'ai inevitably incurred the jealousy of other ambitious officials at the Ch'ing court. Because he was well aware of the dangers involved in his position as the most powerful Chinese official in a Manchu regime, he was careful to retain the favor of his principal supporter, the empress dowager, and to cultivate the friendship of highly placed Manchu princes and nobles. Although he recommended a number of Manchus, such as Prince Ch'ing, Yin-ch'ang (T. Wu-lou), and T'ieh-liang (18631938; T. Pao-ch'en), to share in the control of the military establishment, by 1906 there had arisen at the Manchu court an influential group of young noblemen, led by Liang-pi (18721912; T. Lai-ch'en) and Yuan's one-time protege T'ieh-liang, which favored a policy of centralizing the new military forces under Manchu leadership. In 1906 the Manchu court removed four of the six Peiyang divisions from Yuan's command, and in August 1907 Yuan was removed from his posts as governor general of Chihli and Pei-yang ta-ch'en. Because he retained the personal favor of the empress dowager. Yuan Shih-k'ai, though deprived of direct command of the divisions he had created, continued to exercise considerable influence on military affairs through his powerful friends at court and his high-ranking proteges in the army. He was transferred to Peking as minister of foreign affairs and grand councillor. However, his fortunes underwent a dramatic reversal in November 1908, when both the Kuang-hsü emperor and the empress dowager died. For a decade, Yuan had owed his high position in the government largely to the backing of the empress dowager; now his career and even his life were endangered by his enemies at the imperial court, chief among whom was Prince Ch'un (Tsai-feng), the new prince regent and the father of the infant Hsuan-t'ung emperor. Although Prince Ch'un as a younger brother of the Kuang-hsü emperor was eager to avenge Yuan's alleged complicity in the coup d'etat of 1898, he lacked courage and feared Yuan's still potent influence in the Peiyang Army. Accordingly, he decided to limit his vengeance to the issuance on 2 January 1909 of an edict commanding Yuan to retire from his official duties on the obviously fictitious pretext that he had been incapacitated by a foot injury.

Revolution and the Presidency

For almost three years, Yuan Shih-k'ai lived in retirement in Changte (Anyang), situated in the northern part of Honan on the Peking-Hankow railway. Many of his former associates in Peking, including Hsu Shih-ch'ang and Prince Ch'ing, remained discreetly in touch with him, as did such old Peiyang Army subordinates as Feng Kuo-chang and Tuan Ch'i-jui. Thus, when the revolt of 10 October 1911 broke out at Wuchang, Yuan still wielded considerable hidden influence in both civil and military circles. On the recommendation of Prince Ch'ing and Hsü Shih-ch'ang, Prince Ch'un reluctantly turned to his old enemy in an effort to save the tottering dynasty; on 14 October 1911 he appointed Yuan governor general of Hu-Kwang and instructed him to suppress the revolutionaries. Yuan, however, was in no hurry to come to the aid of the regime that had cashiered him so summarily; he declined the appointment on the grounds that his alleged leg ailment had not been cured. At the time of Yuan's refusal, the imperial armies that had been sent south to put down the revolutionaries at Wuhan were composed of Peiyang divisions which had been trained under Yuan's command. Though nominally headed by Yin-ch'ang, they were actually led by Feng Kuo-chang and Tuan Ch'i-jui, both of whom regarded Yuan as their patron. With the backing of these and other Peiyang officers. Yuan was in a position to bargain with both the Manchu court and the revolutionaries. In response to continued pressure from the Manchu court to resume office, he submitted a list of conditions under which he would agree to serve the dynasty: the convening of a national assembly within a year, the organizing of a cabinet which would be responsible to the assembly, the lifting of the ban on political parties, the granting of an amnesty to all republican revolutionaries, the granting to himself of complete control over all the military forces, and the providing of adequate military funds. The Manchu regent, hard pressed by spreading revolts, finally acceded to these demands. On 27 October, Yuan was named to replace Yin-ch'ang as imperial high commissioner of all military forces fighting the revolutionaries, and the Peiyang forces, vs'hich had remained inactive on the Honan-Hupeh border for several days, mounted an attack on Hankow. Not until the beginning of November, however, did Yuan emerge from retirement and take command of his troops at Hsiaokan, outside of Hankow. By that time, the Manchu court had convened a provisional parliament (tzu-cheng-yuan) and had named Yuan to replace Prince Ch'ing as prime minister and as head of a new cabinet. On 13 November, Yuan moved north to Peking with a sizable bodyguard. Three days later, he announced the composition of his cabinet; the key posts went to his supporters—Wang Shih-chen was named minister of war, with Chao Ping-chün as minister of internal affairs and T'ang Shao-yi as minister of posts and communications. Thereafter, Yuan moved swiftly to remove the Manchus from the remaining positions of influence at Peking and to consolidate his authority. He persuaded the Manchu prince Tsai-t'ao to relinquish command of the imperial guard forces and, on 6 December, compelled his old adversary Prince Ch'un to turn over the regency to the helpless empress Lung-yü, the adoptive mother of the Hsuan-t'ung emperor.

Yuan's ties of loyalty to the Ch'ing dynasty apparently had been dissolved by the death of the empress dowager, his patron, in 1908 and by his dismissal from office in 1909, for he had no noticeable qualms about exploiting the infant emperor and the widowed regent to further his own political ends. Having secured control over the imperial forces in north China, he proceded to play the hapless Manchus against the revolutionaries for his own benefit. As early as 27 October 1911 he had attempted to negotiate secretly with the revolutionaries in Wuchang, but his overtures had been rebuffed. To improve his bargaining position, he had ordered Feng Kuo-chang to press the attack upon Hankow. Feng's men then had taken both Hankow and Hanyang. By alternately applying and relaxing military pressure on the revolutionaries Yuan, by early December, had succeeded in persuading the Manchus, the revolutionaries, and the foreign powers which had interests in China that he alone held the key to order or chaos in China. Because all parties were anxious to avert widespread civil conflict in China, arrangements were made for an armistice at Wuhan, during which representatives of Yuan Shih-k'ai and of the revolutionary commander Li Yuan-hung (q.v.) met and agreed to hold peace talks. On 9 December 1911 Yuan dispatched a delegation headed by T'ang Shao-yi to Hankow; four days later, T'ang and Wu T'ing-fang (q.v.), the plenipotentiary for the revolutionary army, began formal negotiations in Shanghai.

While the peace negotiations were still underway, the revolutionaries set up a provisional republican government at Nanking and elected Sun Yat-sen provisional president on 29 December 1911. Because he was perturbed by this challenge to his own bid for national supremacy and dissatisfied with the trend of the negotiations in Shanghai, Yuan rejected the agreement reached by T'ang Shao-yi and Wu T'ing-fang. However, he found it necessary to continue negotiations with the revolutionaries because he lacked the funds necessary to finance a full-scale military operation against the provisional government in Nanking. As a result, an understanding was reached early in January 1912 whereby Sun Yat-sen would resign from the provisional presidency in favor of Yuan Shih-k'ai, on the condition that the Manchu emperor abdicated and a republican government was established in Peking. Yuan then was faced with the embarrassing prospect of reversing his earlier stand in support of constitutional monarchy and of persuading the Manchus to agree to abdicate. His old friend Prince Ch'ing agreed to present the possibility of voluntary abdication to the Manchu nobles and did so, but they strongly opposed the idea. Yuan received unexpected assistance from a revolutionary assassin who, by killing Liang-pi, the head of the Imperial Clan party (Tsungjen-she), removed one of the most dangerous opponents of Yuan's plans and frightened some other members of the Imperial Clan party into hiding. In a final effort to coerce the reluctant Manchus into an abdication agreement, Yuan made use of his ultimate argument, the threat of miUtary force. On 27 January 1912 some 40 Peiyang military commanders, headed by Tuan Ch'i-jui, sent a telegram to the Ch'ing government urging, for the safety of the imperial family and the security of the country, that the emperor abdicate immediately in favor of a republican form of government. On 12 February, an imperial edict announced the abdication of the emperor, stating that "Yuan Shih-k'ai should have full power to organize a provisional republican government to negotiate with the revolutionary government for unification measures."

On 13 February 1912 Sun Yat-sen presented his resignation to the provisional national assembly (ts'an-i-yuan) in Nanking and recommended that Yuan Shih-k'ai succeed him as provisional president. The Nanking assembly unanimously elected Yuan provisional president on 15 February and named Li Yuan-hung vice president on 20 February. However, certain conditions that Sun Yat-sen had attached to his resignation were yet to be met : that Nanking should be the seat of the new government; that he would retire from office only when the new president came to Nanking to be inaugurated; and that the new president should honor the provisional constitution then being drafted by the provisional assembly in Nanking. A few days later, the provisional assembly sent to Peking a group of five envoys, including Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, Wang Ching-wei, and Sung Chiaojen (qq.v.) , who were to escort Yuan to Nanking for his inauguration. Although Yuan professed to accept Sun's conditions, he did not intend to leave his power base in north China; he claimed that his departure for the south would make it difficult for him to maintain order in the north. As if to substantiate his claims, the well-disciplined troops of the 3rd Division, commanded by Ts'aoK'un (q.v.), mutinied and set fire to many buildings in the center of Peking just four days after the envoys arrived in Peking. Other Peiyang units rioted at Tientsin and Paoting. These military riots, probably ordered by Yuan, convinced the Nanking envoys that Yuan's presence was needed in north China. On their recommendation, the Nanking government telegraphed permission for Yuan to assume office in Peking. He was inaugurated provisional president of the Chinese republic on 12 March 1912.

Suppression of the Kuomintang

Although he had sworn in his inaugural address to uphold the republic and to observe the constitution. Yuan Shih-k'ai tended to view his presidential mandate as giving him an authority which differed little from that formerly enjoyed by the Manchu emperors. His idea of republican government was fundamentally different from the idea held by the revolutionary leaders, whose aim was to curb the authority that Yuan sought to expand. Consequently, the first years of the republic saw the development of a struggle for power between Yuan and the revolutionary party. Before resigning as provisional president in Nanking, Sun Yat-sen had tried to diminish Yuan's power by drawing him away from Peking, the center of his political and military influence. Having foiled this attempt. Yuan used a similar stratagem to maneuver the Nanking government out of its stronghold in the Yangtze valley and into his sphere of authority; by the end of April 1912 he had managed to persuade the provisional government to move to Peking.

Sun Yat-sen and other revolutionary leaders also had tried to limit Yuan's power by means of the lin-shih yueh-fa, or provisional constitution. This document, drafted in Nanking in February and promulgated at the time of Yuan's inauguration, was designed to make the premier, rather than the president, the chief custodian of power. However, the vague wording of many of the constitution's provisions led to disagreements between the premier and his cabinet on the one hand, and the president on the other, for it permitted Yuan to claim many powers that he was not intended to have. Yuan's ability to subvert the original purposes of the provisional constitution was demonstrated in the workings of the first republican cabinet, headed by T'ang Shao-yi. Although the cabinet included several members of the revolutionary party, the key posts went to such trusted Yuan adherents as Tuan Ch'i-jui (war), Lin Kuanhsiung (navy), and Chao Ping-chün (internal affairs). Because T'ang Shao-yi was a longtime friend and protege. Yuan expected to be able to dominate the cabinet with ease. T'ang, however, was a man of character and independence who joined the T'ung-meng-hui at Shanghai in 1912 and who supported its political ideals. As premier, he sought to enforce the constitutional provisions limiting the powers of the president, and when Yuan persisted in acting without his consent, he resigned in June 1912. Under his successors, all of whom were appointed by Yuan, the cabinet graduallydegenerated into a powerless adjunct of the president's office.

Having reduced the cabinet system to impotence, Yuan Shih-k'ai turned his attention to the political parties in the National Assembly. These parties, particularly the T'ung-meng-hui, constituted the chief remaining obstacle to the fulfillment of his ambitions. While privately working to undermine the influence of the T'ung-meng-hui, he publicly sought its cooperation. In the summer of 1912 he invited Sun Yat-sen and Huang Hsing (q.v.) to Peking to discuss plans for national unification. While they were in Peking late that summer, Yuan impressed them favorably with his courteous attention to their proposals and successfully enlisted their public support of his candidacy for president in the approaching elections. Before leaving Peking, Sun took part in the ceremonies inaugurating the Kuomintang. He then left Sung Chiao-jen (q.v.), the organizer of the new party, in charge of its political affairs in north China. Unlike his colleagues, Sung Chiao-jen was a vigorous proponent of constitutional government by a cabinet, which, in turn, would be controlled by the majority party in the National Assembly. He came out strongly against Yuan's administration while electioneering in the provinces. In the elections held early in 1913 the Kuomintang became the majority party in the National Assembly. As de facto leader of the party, Sung Chiao-jen constituted a serious threat to Yuan's control of the cabinet and of the government itself. On 20 March 1913, as he was about to board a train for Peking, Sung Chiao-jen was assassinated in Shanghai.

The assassin and his accomplice were arrested soon afterwards, and documents found in their homes implicated Chao Pingchun, the premier. Hung Shu-tsu, the secretary of the cabinet, and even Yuan himself. The assassination of Sung Chiao-jen led to a rapid deterioration of relations between Yuan Shih-k'ai and the Kuomintang. Another cause of this growing antagonism was the Reorganization Loan Agreement. In April 1913 Yuan's administration concluded negotiations with a five-power consortium, representing banks of Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia, and Japan, which resulted in an agreement for a loan of £2b million. The agreement was signed without the formal approval of the National Assembly. Strengthened by this new Source of funds and supported in the National Assembly by the Progressive party. Yuan decided that it no longer was necessary to tolerate opposition from the Kuomintang. On 6 May 1913 he issued an order banning that party and began to transfer troops in preparation for an attack on the provinces controlled by Kuomintang governors. In June, he dismissed three governors: Li Lieh-chün (q.v.) of Kiangsi, Po Wen-wei of Anhwei, and Hu Hanmin (q.v.) of Kwangtung. He then ordered Peiyang divisions to advance southward toward Kiukiang and Nanking. Kuomintang resistance (for details, see Li Lieh-chün) to the Peiyang onslaught was scattered and ineffectual. By September, the so-called second revolution had been crushed, and the area under Yuan's military control had been extended to include the provinces of Hupeh, Anhwei, Kiangsi, and Kiangsu.

The Monarchical Movement

Having destroyed the political and military authority of the Kuomintang, Yuan Shih-k'ai was free to proceed with plans to consolidate his power. In mid-1913 he still was only the provisional president; and to secure formal recognition from foreign powers, he needed confirmation of his status as chief of state by the National Assembly. Yuan succeeded in persuading the National Assembly to pass a new presidential election law and to elect him president. On 10 October 1913, the second anniversary of the revolution, he formally assumed the presidency at the T'ai-ho-tien, where the Manchu emperors had been enthroned. That day, the Chinese republic received formal recognition from Great Britain, Russia, France, Japan, and other powers. After being installed as president. Yuan Shih-k'ai pressed the National Assembly to amend the provisional constitution of March 1912 so that his authority no longer would be restricted by the assembly or the cabinet. When this proposal encountered opposition from members of the National Assembly, Yuan decided that the continued existence of the National Assembly was unnecessary. On 4 November 1913 he ordered the dissolution of the Kuomintang and the arrest of Kuomintang members still in Peking. This action paralyzed the National Assembly, for it now lacked a quorum. Yuan dissolved it on 10 January 1914 and replaced it with an interim group, the political council (cheng-chih hui-i). This docile body, composed mainly of friends or proteges of Yuan, created the constitutional council (yueh-fa hui-i), which was charged with drafting a new constitution which would meet Yuan's specifications. The new document, known as the constitutional compact (yueh-fa), was promulgated by Yuan himself on 1 May 1914. In addition to bestowing almost unlimited powers upon the president, it called for the establishment of a council of state (ts'an-cheng-yuan) and a legislative council (li-fa-yuan) . The council of state was established on 20 June, but the legislative council was never organized. In accordance with the constitutional compact. Yuan also set up an office of government affairs (cheng-shih-t'ang) attached to the presidential office and appointed his old friend Hsü Shih-ch'ang to head it. By creating this office, which served in lieu of a cabinet, and the council of state. Yuan sought to give a democratic air to a regime that was rapidly acquiring the characteristics of a military dictatorship. Such potential sources of opposition as political parties and the press were subjected to restrictions and regulations which were enforced by the military and the secret police. Through revisions made in the constitutional compact, Yuan obtained the presidency for life and the authority to appoint his own successor

In the autumn of 1914, as Yuan Shih-k'ai was approaching the zenith of his power, his regime encountered unforeseen difficulties in the field of foreign policy, difficulties created by the outbreak of the First World War. Yuan had been aware of the Japanese threat to China for many years, but since his rise to power he had been content to follow the policy of his predecessors, relying upon other foreign powers to check the ambitions of Japan. However, as the European powers became increasingly involved in European affairs after 1914, Japan was left relatively free to extend its influence in China. Japan quickly took over Tsingtao, Kiaochow, and other German concessions in Shantung province. On 1 8 January 1915, under conditions of extreme secrecy, the Japanese minister in Peking personally presented Yuan with his government's Twenty-one Demands upon China, which, had they all been granted, would have transformed China into a Japanese protectorate. Because no other foreign power would intervene and because Yuan was unwilling to commit the Peiyang Army to military action against Japan, he had to acquiesce to a Japanese ultimatum. On 9 May he acceded to all but the most sweeping of these demands. His capitulation was a serious blow to his prestige and that of his regime.

Yuan Shih-k'ai's decision to yield to the Japanese was influenced by his plans to found another imperial dynasty in China, a scheme for which he required non-interference, if not cooperation, from Japan. Just when Yuan conceived his monarchical plan cannot be determined. However, an official tendency to revert to the institutions and the terminology of the late Ch'ing period had become evident by mid- 191 4. Efforts were made, with Yuan's approval, to restore and reinstitute the examination system and the censorate; civil (and later military) officials were ranked into a hierarchy with titles reminiscent of those used under the Ch'ing dynasty. Resumption of the official worship of Confucius was ordered throughout the country. The ceremony of the sacrifices at the Altar of Heaven at the winter solstice, formerly practiced by the emperors, was revived by Yuan, who personally carried out the ceremony in December 1914. Yuan's plans received support from various quarters. From the Japanese premier, Okuma Shigenobu, and from Yuan's Japanese advisers came hints that Japan, itself a monarchy, would not be unsympathetic to the establishment of a new monarchy in China. Yuan's American consultant on constitutional law, Frank J. Goodnow, a professor at Columbia University who later became president of the Johns Hopkins University, submitted a report to Yuan in which he maintained that monarchy was a more suitable form of government for China than was a republican system. Many of Yuan's relatives and advisers also supported the monarchical idea, some because they believed that it would benefit China and others because they saw opportunities for their own advancement.

The monarchical movement began in earnest in August 1915 with the creation of the Ch'ouan-hui [society for planning stability]. Yuan's personal adviser Yang Tu (q.v.) and his associates used the society to promote the idea of constitutional monarchy. By flooding the political council with petitions to change the system of government, they hoped to create an impression of widespread public support for the establishment of a monarchy. In October, Yuan's supporters hastily formed the kuo-min tai-piao ta-hui [national congress of representatives], allegedly to represent public opinion, and by 20 November this body had cast a unanimous vote in favor of a monarchy. In response to this action, the political council petitioned Yuan on 1 1 December, asking that he become monarch. On 12 December, a series of orders were issued which prepared the way for the transformation of the state from a republic to a monarchy. Newly created titles of nobility in five ranks were bestowed upon Yuan's most important -civil and military subordinates; the designation tsung-t'ung-fu [president's office] was changed to hsin-huakung [new China palace] ; and in the new official calendar the name Hung-hsien, chosen to designate Yuan's reign period, was scheduled to be used beginning 1 January 1916.

Although Yuan Shih-k'ai carefully gauged the probable reactions of the Chinese people and the foreign powers before establishing the monarchy, events soon proved that he had blundered. The Japanese, who previously had indicated their approval, were the first of several foreign powers to register strong objections; in China, even Yuan's oldest friends and colleagues opposed this venture. Yuan had given too much weight to the casual opinions of foreigners and to his followers' misleading assessments of public opinion. Soon after its inception in the summer of 1 9 1 5 the monarchical movement had come under increasingly bitter attack from Liang Ch'i-ch'ao (q.v.), the influential leader of the Progressive party. Liang's former student Ts'ai O (q.v.) then had begun in secret to organize military opposition to Yuan's regime.

Yuan's opponents made their first public move on 25 December 1915, when Ts'ai O joined with T'ang Chi-yao (q.v.), Tai K'an, and other military leaders in Yunnan in sending Yuan an open telegram which denounced him as the betrayer of the republic and proclaimed Yunnan's independence from his rule. Soon afterwards, the National Protection Army, led by Ts'ai O, began to advance on Szechwan. Yuan ordered troops into Szechwan early in January 1916 to crush this opposition, but despite his military efforts, Kweichow declared its independence on 27 January and Kwangsi followed suit on 15 March. These successive blows to Yuan's prestige, together with reports of military reverses in Szechwan and increasing pressure from the foreign powers, persuaded Yuan to postpone further plans for the monarchy. On 22 March 191.6, after 83 days as monarch, he issued an order which formally restored the republican government.

The End of Peiyang Unity

Although the revolt of the southwestern provinces and the opposition of foreign powers contributed substantially to the collapse of the monarchical movement, perhaps the principal reason for Yuan's failure was lack of support from his own military subordinates. In the early days of the Peiyang Army, Yuan had exercised direct control over his troops. After he became chief executive of the Chinese republic, however, the claims made on his attention by matters of state, diplomacy, finance, and politics obliged him to entrust much of his military authority to his top lieutenants. Further delegation of power was necessitated by the rapid expansion of the Peiyang Army during and after the so-called second revolution of 1913 and by the decision to garrison the newly conquered provinces with large Peiyang units, the commanders of which would act as military governors. Once placed in control of large areas located at some distance from the center of authority, these commanders, though outwardly remaining loyal to Yuan, tended to become increasingly independent. Thus, Yuan's military authority diminished in 1913-14 as his political authority increased. Yuan, who was aware of this trend, sought to reestablish direct control over the military by transferring the central direction of military affairs from the ministry of war to a newly organized tayuan-shuai t'ung-shuai pan-shih-ch'u [generalissimo's office], which he headed, and by creating a new model army under his personal command to offset the growing power of the older Peiyang commanders. He also tried to reduce the regional power of his commanders by shifting them frequently to new command posts or by transferring them to sinecure posts in Peking. Many of the senior officers, however, had been schooled by Yuan himself in the art of acquiring and keeping power, and they managed to thwart his efforts to dislodge them from their regional bases. By the time the monarchical movement began, Yuan's relations with his two most important subordinates, Tuan Ch'i-jui and Feng Kuo-chang, had become strained; this deterioration seriously weakened Yuan's prestige in the minds of other Peiyang officers.

Yuan Shih-k'ai's failure to retain the support of his top military commanders and to crush the secessionist movement in the southwestern provinces marked a decisive turn in his political fortunes. Faced with the possibility of complete military collapse, he sought to negotiate a compromise with the southwestern military leaders which would allow hün to retain the presidency. Ts'ai O and his colleagues responded by demanding that Yuan resign and leave China. The weight of these demands increased with the secession of Kwangtung, Chekiang, Shensi, Szechwan, and Hunan in April and May 1916 and with the formation of a military council (chün-wu-yuan) at Chaoch'ing, Kwangtung, by T'ang Chi-yao and other secessionist leaders, who announced their refusal to recognize Yuan or his administration. Meanwhile, signs of impending defection began to appear among Yuan's subordinates. In mid-May 1916 Feng Kuo-chang convened a conference of political representatives at Nanking which discussed the matter of the presidency and finally adopted a resolution favoring Yuan's retirement from office. In an attempt to keep his hold on the central administration, Yuan tried to regain the support of Tuan Ch'i-jui by appointing him premier of a reorganized government. However, Tuan resumed his attitude of indifference to Yuan's plight when Yuan refused his demands for greater political and military powers.

On 6 June 1916 Yuan Shih-k'ai, exhausted by successive disappointments, humiliations, and desertions and by his own feverish efforts to cling to power, died of uremia at the age of 56. Official funeral ceremonies, conducted by Tuan Ch'i-jui, were held in Peking on 23 June. Six days later, his body was laid to rest at Changte, Honan.

Yuan Shih-k'ai was said to have been the father of some 30 children, 16 of whom were sons. At the age of 1 7, he married a girl whose surname was Yü, and his household later came to include a number of concubines. Of his sons, the best known were Yuan K'o-ting (1887-; T. Yun-t'ai), who for a time hoped to succeed his father as monarch, and Yuan K'o-wen (1889-1931; T. Han-yun, H. Paots'en), noted for his literary and artistic accomplishments. Another son. Yuan K'o-huan (b.l885; T. Ghung-jen, H. Tzu-wu) in 1937 published a collection of his father's public papers from the years 1898-1907, Yuan-shouyuan tsou-i chi-yao, which had been compiled by Shen Tsu-hsien. A collection of Yuan's official papers from the period of his presidency, compiled by Lu Shun and Hsü Yu-p'eng, was published in 1914 as the Yuan ta-tsung-t'ung shu-tu hui-pien.

Chinese historians generally have portrayed Yuan Shih-k'ai as the betrayer of the infant republic who bequeathed to China more than a decade of military misrule and political chaos, A traditionalist, Yuan had little sympathy for the political ideals and institutions of the West. His political style was compounded largely of personal ambition and political expediency, and his desire for power may well have blinded his political judgment and led him to undertake the disastrous monarchical movement. Nevertheless, Yuan Shih-k'ai was a seasoned and capable administrator, a skillful organizer, and an astute politician. At one time, his contemporaries, including revolutionaries and foreigners, regarded his leadership as the only possible alternative to a complete breakdown of order in China—a judgment which was partially vindicated by the chaotic period that followed his death.

Biography in Chinese

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