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China - The Northern Expediton - 1926-1928

The last Chinese dynasty, the Manchu [Qing] was overthrown in 1911 by a diverse revolutionary coalition that immediately lost control of the Republic to General Yuan Shikai. After Yuan's death in 1916, the Beijing-based regime hosted a succession of short-lived warlord governments. In 1926 Nationalist armies, led by Chiang Kai-shek, marched north with their Communist allies from Guangzhou in a drive to defeat the warlords. In the midst of this Northern Expedition, Chiang purged the Communists. By summer 1928, the Nationalists had succeeded in unifying the country from their new capital in Nanjing. Beijing ("northern captial") had been renamed Beiping ("northern peace").

In mid-1922 Dr. Sun Yat-sen organized the Northern Expedition, observing that the whole nation are at "daggers drawn" against Old Hsu and his associates but are without the power to expel them from the political stage. Both the Kuangsi and the Northern punitive expeditions are inspired by the same motives in spite of the difference in the spheres of operations. Prior to the dispatch of the Cantonese troops the people of Kuangsi had made many appeals to the Canton Government to send out the expedition. On the contrary, certain persons are now trying to obstruct the Northern Expedition which is being dispatched at present. Sun Yat-sen died of cancer in Beijing in March 1925, but the Nationalist movement he had helped to initiate was gaining momentum. During the summer of 1925, Chiang, as commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army, set out on the long-delayed Northern Expedition against the northern warlords. Within nine months, half of China had been conquered.

The National Revolutionary Army launched the Northern Expedition in July 1926. After it took Wuhan, the Guangzhou Government moved there. In 1926, with the north extension of Northern Expedition, the center of Great Revolution shifted from the Pearl River basin to the Yangtze River basin. On 26 November 1926, the KMT Central Political Committee decided to move the capital to Wuhan. In middle December, most of the KMT central executive commissioners and National Government commissioners arrived in Wuhan, set up the temporary joint conference of central executive commissioners and National Government commissioners, performed the top functions of central party headquarters and National Government.

The Northern Expedition was a military campaign led by the Kuomintang (KMT) from 1926 to 1928. Its main objective was to unify China under the Kuomintang banner by ending the rule of local warlords. The Northern Expedition kicked off on May 20, 1926. It led to the demise of the Beiyang government and the Chinese reunification of 1928. The Northern Expedition, which would sweep away the rule of the warlords, break the military and political control of imperialist countries over China and end people's tribulation. The Northern Expedition was warmly welcomed and supported by the people all over China. It all struck a heavy blow at the reactionary warlords and kindled the flame of revolution over half of China.

Chiang led a military expedition to subdue warlords in central and northern China and unify the nation. This Northern Expedition lasted three years. Chiang Kai-Shek became commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army and held a ceremony for the Northern Expedition on July 9, 1926. He also made a declaration that notified the entire country that "the purpose of the revolutionary war is to build an independent free nation... by overthrowing the warlords and imperialism." The Northern Expedition for unification was officially opened in the solemn Pledge Ceremony.

On March 22, 1927, troops of the National Revolutionary Army entered Shanghai and, two days later, captured Nanjing, where a reorganized national government was established on April 18, 1927. Once the expedition reached Shanghai, the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek betrayed the Communists and massacred many CCP members. Soon thereafter, the ongoing Northern Expedition brought the remaining provinces into the fold. With the elimination of the rival Beijing-based government, the government in Nanjing became internationally recognized as China's legitimate government.

The National Revolutionary Army launched the Second Northern Expedition in April 1928 to attack Chang Zong-chang in Shandong and Chang Tso-lin in Beijing. Unexpectedly, the Japanese created the Jinan Massacre on May 3 and the National Revolutionary Army was compelled to make a detour to advance northward. By the end of May 1928 Chang Tso-lin decided to retreat outside the border, but he was killed by a Japanese bomb at the Huanggutun railway station outside Shenyang on June 4. By June 8 Yan Xi-shan's troops occupied Beijing. After the assassination of Chang Tso-lin by the Japanese, Chang's son Chang Xue-liang succeeded him in power. Despite Japanese obstruction, Chang Xue-liang declared obediance to the Nationalist Government and flew the national flag on 29 December 1928 in the Northeastern Provinces, thereby completing the Northern Expedition.

China's unification was the last thing a foreign power wanted to see especially Japan and they tried every possible way to obstruct it. During the disordered warlord period, Japan at first supported Tuan Ch'i-jui, attempting to control the Peking Government and the political situation of China. When Tuan failed, Japan focused on Chang Tso-lin in Manchuria, supported Chang Tsung-chang in Shantung and Sun Chuang-fan, who was defeated in Kiangsu and Chekiang. When the National Revolutionary Army advanced toward Shantung during the Northern Expedition, the Japanese Cabinet headed by Tanaka Giichi implemented its "scorpion-type policy" in one hand, planning to Capture the whole of Manchuria and North China using the Shantung and Liaotung peninsulas as its nippers, and presented the so-called "Tanaka Memorial," formulating its measures to swallow China.

In 1927 when the national revolutionary army advanced to Shan-dong Province, Japans sent troops to give secret support to warlord Zhang Zong-chang. The Japanese dispatched reinforcements to Shantung on the pretext of protecting Japanese residents, and stopped the National Revolutionary Army from advancing northward. Japan provoked the "May Third Incident" in which Japanese troops opened fire on Chinese forces and civilians, and five thousand Chinese were killed. Diplomat Cai Gong-shi was killed in cold blood and other high-ranking officials of the foreign ministry were insulted and brutalized. Japan attempted to kidnap CommandingGeneral Chiang Kai-shek of the Northern Expedition Army in order, to totally disrupt the Northern Expedition mission of the National' Government at one stroke. As the Revolutionary Army, turned around and advanced toward Peking and Tientsin by crossing the Yellow River to carry on its mission, Japan then forced Chang Tso-lin-to concede the rights on five railways in Manchuria and Mongolia by signing a secret treaty. The Japanese Army issued a mobilization order, concentrated its troops in Fengtien, dispatched reinforcements to Chintsou, attempting to disarm the Fengtien Army that was retreating toward Northeast China and to stop by force the National Revolutionary Army from entering Manchuria.

After the Northern Expedition in 1928 the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-Shek established Nanjing as the capital of China China in opposition to a government in Beijing led by northern warlords and an alternate alternate government in Wuhan led by Wang Jingwei . After the completion of the Second Northern Expedition Expedition in 1931, Chiang's government became the only recognized Chinese Chinese government. Nanjing was also the capital of the Taiping Rebellion in the mid- 19th century.

At the end of the Northern Expedition the country was reunified and placed under the Executive Yuan. After the successful ending of the Northern Expedition, the Republic of China started to push for the unification of the financial system of the entire country and began several reforms. Before long, however, the Japanese Invasion of China during the Second World War prompted the Chinese to launch the eight-year War of Resistance against Japan in 1937.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:28:55 ZULU