To what extent was Yuan-Shikai responsible for the collapse of the Republican government?
It is known that Yuan Shikai tried to decrease the power of the democratic republic and centralize the power on himself. He was a strict authoritarian and went to the extent of declaring himself Emperor in 1916. However, shortly after that he died and the Republic collapsed while China descended into warlordism. The country entered a chaotic state, with no centralized authority while at the same time there were conflicts between the different warlords. It is obvious that Yuan Shikai was responsible for bringing about this chaos, because he was the one which destabilized the Republic and focussed more on individual authority rather than ruling through a network of politicians. Furthermore, he based himself on support from the military, which was controlled by the warlords themselves. He had no real political support and the lack of opposition put him in the perfect position to rule as he liked. On the other hand, there are many who support the fact that Yuan Shikai, while being responsible for the weakening of the Republic, proved to be a leader which benefitted the state at that certain period of time for a number of reasons. Firstly, he controlled the warlords. Secondly, China was experiencing massively increasing levels of agricultural output and cultural production. Based on these two criteria, this essay shall now combat the opinion that Yuan Shikai should be held fully responsible for the dark years that followed the democratic republic’s fall.
The factor that enabled Yuan Shikai to initially take over as President was that he was the military leader and since all military power was concentrated in Peking, it was his seat of power which also provided him with effective control over the country. He managed to establish himself so easily due to the fact that there were no other large armed forces which could doubt his authority. It must be...
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