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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yuan (袁).
Yuan, Shikai


In office
1 January 1916 – 22 March 1916
Premier Lou Tseng-Tsiang
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by Title abolished

In office
10 March 1912 - 1 January 1916
Premier Tang Shaoyi
Lou Tseng-Tsiang
Zhao Bingjun
Xiong Xiling
Sun Baoqi
Xu Shichang
Vice President Li Yuanhong
Preceded by Sun Yat-sen (provisional)
Succeeded by monarchy restored
In office
22 March 1916 - 6 June 1916
Premier Xu Shichang
Duan Qirui
Vice President Li Yuanhong
Preceded by monarchy abolished
Succeeded by Li Yuanhong

In office
1911 - 1912
Preceded by Yikuang, Prince Qing
Succeeded by Zhang Xun

In office
1901 - 1908
Preceded by Li Hongzhang
Succeeded by Yang Shixiang

Born 16 September 1859(1859-09-16)
Qing DynastyXiangcheng, Henan, China
Died 6 June 1916 (aged 56)
Republic of ChinaBeijing, China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Beiyang Army
Republician Party
Spouse(s) Lady Yu
Lady Shen
Lady Yi
Lady Kim
Lady Wu
Lady Yang
Lady Ye
Lady Cheung
Lady Kwok
Lady Liu
Children Yuan Keding
Yuan Kewen
and other 15 sons
15 daughters
Occupation Soldier (General), Politician
Signature
Military service
Years of service 1881-1916
Battles/wars Imo Incident
Gapsin Coup
First Sino-Japanese War
Boxer Rebellion

Yuan Shikai (simplified Chinese: 袁世凯traditional Chinese: 袁世凱pinyin: Yuán ShìkǎiWade-Giles: Yüan Shih-k'ai; Courtesy Wèitíng 慰亭; Pseudonym: Róng'ān 容庵, also named after birthplace Yuán Xiàngchéng 袁项城) ( 16 September 1859[1] – 6 June 1916) was an important Chinese general and politician famous for his influence during the late Qing Dynasty, his role in the events leading up to the abdication of the last Qing Emperor of China, his autocratic rule as the first President of the Republic of China, and his short-lived attempt to revive the Chinese monarchy, with himself as the "Great Emperor of China".

Contents

Early life

Yuan Shikai was born in the village of Zhangying (張營村), Xiangcheng county (項城縣), Chenzhou prefecture (陳州府), Henan province. Chenzhou is now called Huaiyang (淮陽). The village of Zhangying is located immediately north of the centre of Xiangcheng.

The Yuan family later moved to a hilly area that was easier to defend, 16 kilometers southeast of Xiangcheng. There the Yuans had built a fortified village, Yuanzhai (袁寨村; literally "the fortified village of the Yuan family"). Yuanzhai is now located inside Wangmingkou township (王明口乡), on the territory of the county-level city of Xiangcheng. The large country estate of the Yuan family there was recently opened to tourism.

As a young man he had enjoyed riding, boxing, and entertainment with friends. Yuan had wanted to pursue a career in civil services, but had failed twice in Imperial examinations. He decided that his entry into politics would have to be done through the Huai Army, where many of his relatives of grand parental and parental generations served. Using his father's connections Yuan set foot in Tengzhou, Shandong and sought a post in the Qing Brigade. Yuan married first in 1876, to a woman of the Yu family, who bore him a first son, Keding (袁克定), in 1878. Yuan Shikai married 10 wives in his whole life.

Years in Joseon Dynasty Korea

Joseon Dynasty Korea in the early 1870s was in the midst of a struggle between isolationists under the King Gojong's father (Heungseon Daewongun), and progressives, led by the queen (Empress Myeongseong), who had wanted to open trade with continued Chinese overlordship in Korea. After the Meiji Restoration Japan had adopted a new aggressive foreign policy and as an emerging power, wished to contest Chinese domination of the peninsula. Under the unequal Treaty of Ganghwa, which the Koreans signed only with reluctance in 1876, Japan was allowed to send diplomatic missions to Hanseong, and opened trading posts in Inchon and Wonsan. Amidst an internal power struggle, which resulted in the queen's exile, Li Hongzhang, the Viceroy of Zhili, sent the Qing Brigade, 3,000 strong, into Korea. The regent Heungseon Daewongun was escorted to Tianjin, where he would be kept prisoner. Korea's weakness was apparent, and the Treaty of Jemulpo of 1882 gave the Japanese the right to station troops in Seoul to protect their legation. China's protection alone could not shield Korea against the rapidly industrialising Japanese military, and it was obvious that Korea's army could not even deal with an internal crisis. The king issued a proposal to train 500 troops in the art of modern warfare, and Yuan Shikai was appointed to lead this task and was to remain in Korea. To the emperor, Li Hongzhang also recommended Yuan's promotion, and was approved shortly with Yuan's new rank as sub-prefect.

In 1885, Yuan was appointed Imperial Resident of Seoul with orders from the Imperial Throne of China.[2] The position had seemed on the surface to be similar to that of a Minister or ambassador. In practice, however, Yuan, being the head official from the suzerain, had become the supreme adviser on all Korean government policies. Dissatisfied with its position in Korea, Japan sought more influence through co-suzerainty with China. A series of forged documents aimed at angering the Chinese was sent to Yuan Shikai, attempting to make it appear as if the Korean government had changed its stance towards Chinese protection, and turned more towards Russia. Yuan was outraged yet skeptical, and asked Li Hongzhang for advice.

In a treaty signed between Japan and China, the two parties agreed only to send troops into Korea after notifying the other. Although the Korean government was stable, it was still a protectorate of China, and forces emerged advocating modernization. Another more radicalised group, the Donghak Society, promoting an early nationalist doctrine based partly upon Confucianist and Taoist principles, rose in rebellion against the government, which Yuan aimed to protect. Li Hongzhang sent troops into Korea to protect Seoul and China's interests, and Japan did the same under the pretext of protecting Japanese trading posts. Tensions boiled over between Japan and China when Japan refused to withdraw its forces and placed a blockade of sorts at the 38th Parallel. Li Hongzhang wanted at all costs to avoid a war with Japan, and attempted this by asking for international pressure for a Japanese withdrawal. Japan refused, and war began. Yuan, now in an ineffective position, was recalled to Tianjin in July 1894, at the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War (甲午戰爭).

Late Qing Dynasty

Yuan Shikai rose to fame by participating in the First Sino-Japanese War as the commander of the Chinese stationary forces in Korea. He avoided the humiliation of Chinese armies in the war when he was recalled to Beijing several days before the Chinese forces were attacked.

As an ally of Li Hongzhang, Yuan was appointed the commander of the first New army in 1895. The Qing court relied heavily on his army due to the proximity of its garrison to the capital and its effectiveness. Of the new armies that were part of the Self-Strengthening Movement, Yuan's was the best trained and most effective.

The Qing Court at the time was divided between progressives under the leadership of the Guangxu Emperor, and conservatives under the Empress Dowager Cixi, who had temporarily retreated to the Summer Palace as a place of "retirement". After Guangxu's Hundred Days' Reform 1898, however, Cixi decided that the reforms were too drastic, and wanted to restore her own regency through a coup d'état. Plans of the coup spread early, and the Emperor was very aware of the plot. He asked reform advocates Kang Youwei, Tan Sitong and others to develop a plan to save him. Yuan's involvement in the coup continues to be a large topic of historical debate. Tan Sitong reportedly had a talk with Yuan several days before the coup, asking Yuan to assist the Emperor against Cixi. Yuan refused a direct answer, but insisted he was loyal to the Emperor. Meanwhile Manchu General Ronglu was planning manoeuvres for his army to stage the coup.

According to many sources, including the diary of Liang Qichao and a Wen Bao (文報) article, Yuan Shikai arrived in Tianjin on 20 September 1898, by train. It was certain that by the evening, Yuan had talked to Ronglu, but what was revealed to him remains ambiguous. Most historians suggest that Yuan had told Ronglu of all details of the Reformers' plans, and asked him to take immediate action. The plot being exposed, Ronglu's troops entered the Forbidden City at dawn on 21 September, forcing the Emperor into seclusion in a lake palace.

Making a political alliance with the Empress Dowager, and becoming a lasting enemy of the Guangxu Emperor, Yuan left the capital in 1899 for his new appointment as Governor of Shandong. During his three-year tenure, he ensured the suppression of Boxers (義和團) in the province. He also left the foundation for a provincial junior college in Jinan, adopting some western ideas of education.

He was granted the position of Viceroy of Zhili (直隸總督) and Minister of Beiyang (北洋通商大臣), where the modern regions of Liaoning, Hebei, and Shandong provinces now are, on 25 June 1902. Gaining the regard of foreigners when he helped to crush the Boxer Rebellion, he successfully obtained numerous loans to expand his Beiyang Army into the most powerful army in China. He created a 1,000-strong police force to keep order in Tianjin, the first of its kind in Chinese history, after the Boxer Protocol had forbidden troops to be staged within a close proximity of Tianjin. Yuan was also involved in the transfer of Railway control from Sheng Xuanhuai (盛宣怀). Railways became a large part of his revenue. Yuan played an active role in late-Qing political reforms, including the creation of the Ministry of Education (學部) and Ministry of Police (巡警部). He further advocated for ethnic equality between Manchus and Han Chinese.

Retreat and return

The Empress Dowager and the Guangxu Emperor died within a day of each other in November 1908.[2] Some sources indicate that the will of the Emperor had specifically ordered that Yuan be executed. Avoiding execution, in January 1909, Yuan Shikai was relieved of all his posts by the regent, the 2nd Prince Chun (醇親王). The official reason advanced was that he was returning to his home in the village of Huanshang (洹上村), located in the suburbs of Zhangde prefecture (彰德府), now called the prefecture-level city of Anyang (安陽市), Henan province, in order to treat a foot disease.

During his three years of retreat, Yuan kept contact with his close allies, including Duan Qirui, who reported to him regularly about army proceedings. The loyalty of the Beiyang Army was still undoubtedly behind him. Having this strategic military situation, Yuan actually held the balance of power between the revolutionaries and the Qing Court. Both wanted Yuan on their side. Initially deciding against the possibility of becoming President of a newly proclaimed Republic, Yuan also repeatedly declined offers from the Qing Court for his return, first as the Viceroy of Huguang, and then as Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet. Time was on Yuan's side, and Yuan waited, using his "foot ailment" as a pretext to his continual refusal. After further pleas by the Qing Court, Yuan agreed to accept, becoming Prime Minister on 1 November 1911. Immediately subsequent he asked that Zaifeng, the Regent, abstain from politics. Zaifeng, being forced to resign from his regency, made way for Yuan to compose a newly created, predominantly Han Chinese Cabinet of his confidants, consisting of only one Manchu, who held the position of Minister of Suzerainty.

The Wuchang Uprising and the Republic

The Wuchang Uprising succeeded on 10 October 1911 in Hubei province, before Yuan's official appointment to the post of Prime Minister. The southern provinces had subsequently declared their independence from the Qing Court, but neither the northern provinces nor the Beiyang Army had a clear stance for or against the rebellion. Both the Qing court and Yuan were fully aware that the Beiyang Army was the only Qing force powerful enough to quell the revolutionaries. The court renewed offers for Yuan's return on 27 October, and Yuan eventually left his village for Beijing on 30 October. To further reward Yuan's loyalty to the court, the Empress Dowager Longyu offered Yuan the noble title Marquis of the First Rank (一等侯), an honour only previously given to General Zeng Guofan. While continuing his demands, ensuring temporary political stability in Beijing, his forces captured Hankou and Hanyang in November 1911 in preparation for attacking Wuchang, thus forcing the republican revolutionaries to negotiate.

Abdication of the child emperor

Yuan Shikai sworn in as Provisional President of the Republic of China, in Beijing, 10 March 1912.

The revolutionaries had elected Sun Yat-Sen as the first Provisional President of the Republic of China, but they were in a weak position militarily, so they reluctantly compromised with Yuan. Yuan arranged for the abdication of the child emperor Puyi (or Xuantong Emperor), in return for being granted the position of President, replacing Sun.[2] Yuan would not be present when the Abdication edict was issued by Empress Dowager Longyu, on 12 February 1912. Sun agreed to Yuan's presidency after internal bickerings, but asked that the capital be situated in Nanjing. Yuan, however, wanted his advantage geographically. Cao Kun, one of his entrusted subordinate Beiyang military commanders, fabricated a coup d'état in Beijing and Tianjin, apparently under Yuan's orders, to provide an excuse for Yuan not to leave his sphere of influence in Zhili (present-day Hebei province). The revolutionaries compromised again, and the capital of the new republic was established in Beijing. Yuan Shikai was elected Provisional President of the Republic of China, by the Nanjing Provisional Senate, on 14 February 1912, and sworn in on 10 March of that year.[3][4]

Democratic elections

In February 1913, democratic elections were held for the National Assembly in which the Chinese Nationalist Party or the Kuomintang (KMT) scored a significant victory. Song Jiaoren, deputy in the KMT to Sun Yat-sen, zealously supported a cabinet system and was widely regarded as a candidate for Prime Minister. Yuan viewed Song as a threat to his authority and, after Song's assassination on 20 March 1913 by Ying Kuicheng, there was speculation in the media that Yuan was responsible.

Becoming Emperor

The Flag of Yuan Shikai's "Great Chinese Empire"
Yuan Shikai as Emperor of China.

Tensions between the Kuomintang and Yuan continued to intensify. Yuan's crackdown on the Kuomintang began in 1913, beginning with the suppression and bribery of the KMT members in the two legislative chambers, followed by an orchestrated collapse of the KMT from local organizations.

Second revolution

Seeing the situation worsen, Sun Yat-sen fled to Japan and called for a Second Revolution, this time against Yuan Shikai. Subsequently, Yuan gradually took over the government, building from the support base of his military power. He dissolved the national and provincial assemblies. The House of Representatives and Senate were replaced by the newly formed "Council of State", with Duan Qirui, his trusted Beiyang lieutenant, as Prime Minister.

The Kuomintang's "Second Revolution" ended in disastrous failure, as Yuan's military might on all sides decimated the remaining KMT forces. Provincial governors with KMT loyalties were either bribed, or willingly submitted to Yuan.

After his victory, Yuan reorganized the provincial governments. Headed now by Military Governors (都督) instead of civil governorships, each governor now effectively had control of their own army. Although it meant that Yuan had a seemingly-loyal group of administrators working for him at the time, this laid the foundations for the warlordism that crippled China over the next two decades.

Japan's twenty-one demands

In 1915, Japan sent a secret ultimatum, known as the Twenty-One Demands, to Beijing. When word leaked out that Yuan had agreed to some of the provisions, mass protests sprang up as well as a boycott of Japanese goods. Western pressure forced Japan to back down on its demands.

Revival of the monarchy

With his power secure, many of Yuan's supporters, notably monarchist Yang Du, advocated for a revival of the monarchy, asking Yuan to take on the title of Emperor. Yang reasoned that the Chinese masses had long been used to autocratic rule, and a Republic had only been effective in a transitional phase to end Manchu rule. China's situation longed for stability that only a monarchy would ensure. American political scientist Frank Johnson Goodnow, as well as the Imperial Government of Japan, suggested similar ideas. Yuan held a political convention which unanimously endorsed monarchy on 20 November 1915. By 12 December, he proclaimed his reign as Emperor of the Chinese Empire (中華帝國大皇帝) under the era name of Hongxian (洪憲; i.e. Constitutional Abundance) to begin on 1 January 1916.[3]

The downfall of the monarchy

Once Yuan Shikai openly declared that he was the emperor, opposition unfortunately mounted against him, especially from the revolutionaries and their leader Sun Yat-Sen. Sun fled to Tokyo and set up a base there to overthrow Yuan's monarchy. Yuan's monarchy was somewhat unpopular, partly because his sons were fighting over the "Crown Prince" throne, and his former loyal subordinates like Duan Qirui and Xu Shichang were disloyally leaving him one by one to create their own factions. Yuan Shikai was also in dire straits and when 25 December, Yunnan's military governor, Cai E, rebelled and several provinces followed. Seeing his weakness and unpopularity, foreign powers, including Japan, withdrew their support.

Monarchy abandoned and death

Faced with widespread opposition, Yuan repeatedly delayed the accession rite to appease his foes. Funding for the ceremony was cut on March 1st and he abandoned monarchism on March 22. This was not enough for his enemies as they called for his resignation as president. More provinces rebelled until Yuan died, humiliated, from uremia on 5 June. His death was announced the following day.[3] His remains were moved to his home province and placed in a mausoleum built to resemble Grant's Tomb[citation needed]. In 1928, the tomb was looted by Feng Yuxiang's Guominjun soldiers during the Northern Expedition. He had three sons: Prince Yuan Keding, who was handicapped; Prince Yuan Kewen, who was said by his father to be a 'fake scholar', and Prince Yuan Keliang, whom Yuan Shikai called a "bandit".

Evaluation and legacy

With Yuan's death, China was left without any generally recognized central authority and the army quickly fragmented into forces of combating warlords. For this reason he is sometimes called the Father of the Warlords.

However, it is not accurate to attribute other characteristics of warlordism as his preference, since in his career as a military reformer he had attempted to create a modern army based on the Japanese model.

Throughout his lifetime, he demonstrated understanding of how staff work, military education, and regular transfers of officer personnel came together to make a modern military organisation. After his return to power in 1911, however, he seemed willing to sacrifice this ideal in his imperial ambitions, and instead ruled by a combination of violence and bribery that destroyed the idealism of the early Republican movement.

In the CCTV Production Towards the Republic, Yuan is portrayed through most of his early years as an able administrator, although a very skilled manipulator of political situations. His self-proclamation of Emperor was seen as largely under the influence of external forces, such as his son, prince Yuan Keding.

A bixi (stone tortoise) with a stele in honor of Yuan Shikai, which was installed in Anyang's Huanyuan Park soon after his death, was (partly) restored in 1993.[5]

Offspring

Besides his original wife, Yu Zhi (于氏), Yuan also had nine other concubines. He had a total of 17 sons and 15 daughters.[6]

His two oldest sons were:

Yuan's grandson, Luke Chia-Liu Yuan, was a Chinese-American physicist. Another descendant of Yuan is his great-grandson, Li-Young Lee, a Chinese-American writer and poet. Another descendant of Yuan is his great-granddaughter, Kachuen Yuan Gee, a Chinese-American librarian.

See also

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.

Footnotes

  1. ^ Laing, Ellen Johnston. (2004) Selling Happiness, University of Hawaii Press. p. 92. ISBN 0-8248-2764-3.
  2. ^ a b c Busky, Donald F. (2002) Communism in History and Theory, Praeger/Greenwood. ISBN 0-275-97733-1.
  3. ^ a b c Zhengyuan Fu. (1994) Autocratic Tradition and Chinese Politics, Cambridge University Press. pp. 153–154. ISBN 0-521-44228-1.
  4. ^ Spence, Jonathan D. (2001) The Search for Modern China, W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 277–278. ISBN 0-393-30780-8.
  5. ^ 洹园里的破嘴龟 (The tortoise with a broken mouth in Huanyuan Park) (Chinese)
  6. ^ http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/袁世凯

References

  • Chen, Jerome. "Yuan Shih-K'ai; 1859-1916". George Allen & Unwin Ltd: Liverpool, 1961.
  • Spence, Jonathan D. "The New Republic." In "The Search for Modern China". 282. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999

External links

Yuan Shikai
(House of Yuán)
Born: 16 September 1859 Died: 6 June 1916
Political offices
Preceded by
Lǐ Hóngzhāng
Viceroy of Zhílì
Minister of Běiyáng

1901 – 1908
Succeeded by
Yáng Shìxiāng
Preceded by
Yìkuāng, the Prince Qīng
Prime Minister of China
2 November 1911 – 10 March 1912
Succeeded by
Táng Shàoyí
Preceded by
Sūn Yìxiān
(Sūn Yat-sen)
President of the Republic of China
10 March 1912 – 12 December, 1915
Monarchy restored
Vacant
Title last held by
Yuan Shikai
President of the Republic of China
22 March 1916 – 6 June, 1916
Succeeded by
Lí Yuánhóng
Regnal titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Xuāntǒng
Emperor of China
1 January – 22 March, 1916
Empire declared on 12 December, 1915
Monarchy abolished
Titles in pretence
New title — TITULAR —
Emperor of China
22 March – 6 June, 1916
Succeeded by
Yuan Keding







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