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REINTEGRATION IN CHINA UNDER THE WARLORDS, 1916-1927 Shelly Yomano In the last few decades the analysis of the warlords and their alliances has advanced greatly. From earlier narratives filled with stereotypic denunciations of warlord predations and boorishness to individual biographies of leading warlords to studies of cliques and factions, historians have penetrated deeper and deeper into the historical reality of the warlords. But the attempt to develop an analytic concept that makes sense of the entire period has met with limited results. What is depicted is a jumble of names and battles. The major warlords have been identified, their lives chronicled, and their bonds with subordinates analyzed. However, there is no sense of historical development. in this depiction, no real sense of change or becoming. The account historians now present is one of equilibrium, of a bogging down after Yuan Shikai's death that remains unrelieved until the victorious march of the Northern Expedition. Due to a preconception of stagnation, historians write about groups allying in various ways in rapid succession without breaking out of a balanced, static situation. There is a major trend in this period that has been ignored. Occasionally an author will mention the fact that all warlords realized the inevitability of a reunified China, or discuss a war~ord's desire to become the leader of a reunified China. But the genuine trend toward reunification has been overlooked. James Sheridan depicts the period as one of increasing disintegration.[!] Andrew Nathan[2] and Hsi-sheng Ch'i(3] have both described an era of equilibrium and unmitigated division. No one has focused on the continual attempt at integration that illuminates these years. I would like to present this as a new way of looking at the warlord period, a way that begins to make sense of the chaos and places the period in historical perspective by showing it to be a critical link between the Yuan Shikai presidency and the rise of the Guomindang. The most important recent advances in the historiography of Chinese warlords lie in the attempts to analyze warlord interactions in factional .terms. Nathan has identified •clientelist ties• between warlords within a faction, a •nonascriptive two-person relationship founded on exchange.•[4] Ch'i has looked closely at the types of ties that cemented these relationships within a warlord faction.[S] There should perhaps be more attention paid to the extreme fluidity of the relations (and the ubiquitous possibility for apostasy), as well as the very hierarchical nature of these factions. But I am more concerned with the equilibrium inherent in the factional system of both Nathan and Ch'i. Nathan's second •mode of conflict• states: 22 Since factions are incapable of building sufficient power to rid the political system of rival factions, they have little incentive to do so.[6] Likewise Ch'i relies on a static model of factionalism from Morton A. Kaplan, in which rule number three states that a factional actor will: Stop fighting rather than eliminate an essential national actor.[7] That this is not a very good description of how Chinese warlords acted can be shown in two ways. First let us look at the terms of submission proposed by the victors of the major wars of 1920 and 1922. At the end of the ZhiliAnfu War of 1920, the victors proposed: ( 1) Punishment of Xu Shuzheng (founder of the Anfu Club and Duan Oirui's follower). (2) Discharge of all troops under Duan Oirui (the Anfu leader). (3) Dismissal of the parliament (controlled by the Anfu faction). (4) Dismissal of the three Anfu cabinet ministers. ( 5) Suppression of the Anfu Club (the Anfu political organization).[&) Similarly, at the end of the First Zhili-Fengtian War of 1922, the victorious Zhili leaders proposed: (1) Dismissal of Zhang Zuolin (the Fengtian leader). (2) Dismissal of Liang Shiyi, Ye Gongzhuo, and Zhang Hu (the Fengtian-sponsored premier and ministers). (3) Payment of an indemnity to the Zhili forces and the people of Zhili province.(9] It should be noted that neither of these settlements was designed to spare the defeated faction. The factional leaders were to be stripped of all troops, and the faction's political supporters were...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 22-27
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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