[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Yuan_Shikai_2_1745.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Yuan Shikai [[Franchise/StarWars became president, manipulated a rubberstamp assembly into giving him full powers, and then declared himself emperor]]. It didn't work out.]]

->'''[[UsefulNotes/MaoZedong Mao]]''': ''[[UsefulNotes/JosephStalin Stalin's]] first major error was one as a result of which the Chinese Communist Party was left with one-tenth of the territory that it had. His second error was that, when China was ripe for revolution, he advised us not to rise in revolution and said that if we started a war with [[UsefulNotes/ChiangKaiShek Jiang Jieshi]] that might threaten the entire nation with destruction.''\\
'''[[UsefulNotes/NikitaKhrushchev Khruschev]]''': ''Wrong. A nation cannot be destroyed''. \\
'''Mao''': ''But that is how Stalin's cable read.''
-->- [[http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/112080 July 31, 1958, FIRST CONVERSATION BETWEEN N.S. KHRUSHCHEV AND MAO ZEDONG, HALL OF HUAIZHENTAN (BEIJING)]]

'''The Presidency of Yuan Shikai - 1912 to 1916'''

[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_Shikai Yuan Shikai]], called out of retirement to lead the Beiyang Army against the forces of the Revolutionaries in 1911, turned on the Emperor and used his clout as a military leader to declare an end to the Manchu Empire of the Qing. He went on to use his influence to secure his appointment to the Presidency of the Republic of China. Yuan was, though more popular than the Manchu, still not a particularly popular leader as he conceded most of the '21 Demands' made by ImperialJapan upon threat of war (which asked for economic concessions in North China/Manchuria) and later ''tried to declare himself Emperor''. Both moves were to be expected - in Chinese history, those who overthrew the previous dynasty often started their own. However, most of the country's middle classes wanted a Republic, and a democratic one at that. Yuan was forced to resign as Emperor in 1916, and died soon after. His rule undid many of the successes of the 1911 Revolution, most notably all hope of a central and stable government, let alone a democratic one. Under his rule the different regions of China slowly drifted apart, and upon his death the country fragmented.

'''The Warlord Period - 1916 to 1927'''

When Yuan died, the central government broke down entirely. Yuan's 'military governors', recognised as such for their power-bases in their locales, went their own way and effectively carved out their own states. Some Warlords, like Zhang Zuolin of Manchuria (a godawful governor himself, but he had some very able administrators whom he largely left alone and trusted to run things for him as long as they gave him enough money for his armies) were effective rulers, but most... not so much. Warlord rule was characterized by extremely high and largely arbitrary taxes (some collected years in advance), arbitrary conscription into their personal armies and a lack of economic development in those areas governed by the worst warlords. Many Warlords would even force their peasants to produce opium (and heroin) to support them and their drug monopolies. It's important to note, though, that warlords' attitudes and temperaments varied wildly. [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_Yuxiang Feng Yuxiang]] (warlord of Anhui province and the lower Yangzi) acquired the moniker 'The Backstabbing General' from his own troops and was a devout Christian who took to baptising his soldiers before battles (reputedly ''with a firehose''). [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Zongchang Zhang Zongchang]] (warlord of Shandong province) was dubbed by ''Time'' magazine 'China's basest warlord' and was known throughout China as 'The Three Don't Knows' because he reputedly had ''no idea'' how much money[[note]]He had several prominent merchants ''shot'' for "refusing" to control the inflation he was causing by printing money to pay his troops[[/note]], how many concubines[[note]]He gave them numbers, because he couldn't remember their names or even speak their languages (which included Japanese, French, and Russian)[[/note]], or how many soldiers[[note]]'Somewhere in the vicinity of 40-50 000'[[/note]] he had.

It's worth noting that although overall growth was veeeery slow because most regions attracted little foreign investment from those not keen to invest in intermittent-warzones, domestic investment prevented stagnation and several more stable and relatively-unmolested areas, like Manchuria (and the lower Yangzi, to a lesser extent), prospered and experienced growth and development which brought them on-par with parts of south-eastern Europe, India, or Latin America. The net effect was a Chinese economy which grew at roughly the same rate it had done in the last few decades of the Empire of the Qing's existence. One could say that this was development ''despite'' the country's somewhat-unstable political situation, and certainly not ''because'' of it.

'''The founding of the GMD/10 Years of "Gold" Age - 1927 to 1936'''

Sun Yat-sen (also known as Sun Yixian [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_Sun_Yat-sen among other names]], based on the current Pinyin scheme of transcribing the Chinese language into the Latin alphabet) failed (1911-)revolutionary and 'Father of the (Chinese) Nation', set up the Chinese Guomindang ([[UsefulNotes/WhyMaoChangedHisName GMD Guomindang or KMT for Kuomintang]]) or National(ist) Party in Guangzhou in 1919. The old 'Guomindang' still existed, but the Warlords had made it irrelevant in most of China. This new GMD was more of a coalition, with various wings possessing different ideas on how a Chinese republic should be run. Political leanings ranged from liberal to staunchly conservative, while other wings focused on styles of government, ranging from authoritarian to democratic. As Sun and Chiang took advice from ''all'' the different wings at certain points, the GMD was effectively non-aligned as a political party for many decades. Sun Yat-sen had been elected President of the Republic in 1917, but the post had become meaningless by that point. The Guomindang accepted foreign aid, mostly from the USSR in the form of advisers like [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Borodin Borodin]], at whose insistence socialists were also allowed into the GMD. In 1923, UsefulNotes/ChiangKaiShek, by now, brother-in-law of Sun and likely successor (also known as Jiang Jieshi) became the director of Whampoa Military Academy, the core of Sun's vision for a China unified by force. Sun died in 1925.

Incidentally, after the end of World War I, the KMT became very close to the Weimar Republic, who became a key source of both military and industrial support for its forces (known as NRA or National Revolutionary Army). German industrial and military equipment (or the license to produce them in China) were purchased in large quantities, in return for Chinese raw materials. Chinese students and military officers studied in Germany (including an adopted son of Chiang Kai-Shek, who participated as a tank man with the German Army in the ''Anschluss''). German military advisers, lead by Alexander von Falkenhausen, trained the best units of the NRA. This continued into the mid-1930s.

Due to their non-aligned stance, the GMD continued to maintain close relations with the Soviet Union--notwithstanding its looming conflict with the Chinese communists (see below). Among others, Chiang Kai-shek's eldest son, Chiang Ching-kuo (and his eventual successor) studied in Russia and married a Russian woman. After the Germans reduced cooperation with KMT as Sino-Japanese relations deteriorated in the latter half of 1930s, Soviet equipment and advisers replaced the German in NRA (to be supplanted by the Americans, in turn, by the early 1940s). Russian general [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasily_Chuikov Vasily Chuikov]] served as the chief Russian advisor to Chiang Kai-shek until 1942, when he was assigned to [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII defend some place called Stalingrad]].

'''The founding of the CCP'''

On May 4th, 1919, a student movement protesting the Treaty of Versailles was held. German ports in China were given to the Japanese, instead of being returned to China. This decision was made without consultation, and so the Chinese were just a ''little'' upset. The protest then switched its focus to western imperialism. Out of this came the rise of (often secret, frequently suppressed) political parties in Warlord China.

In 1921, a few dozen left-wing radicals and socialists formally founded a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Shanghai. Also attendant at the meeting was a nobody, a librarian from the Beijing University Library - [[UsefulNotes/MaoZedong 'Mao' something]]. At the Soviet Union's (covert) insistence they joined the GMD and constituted a full third of the Guomindang force that set off on the Northern Expedition of 1927 to unify the country.

Chiang Kai-shek led this GMD expeditionary force, and from 1927 to 1928 they fought up the country. Warlords were either killed or (much more often) chose to 'ally' with them in exchange for keeping power. Such 'allies' could not be trusted, but Chiang didn't have the resources to fight ''everybody'', which is what he'd end up doing if he said 'no thanks' the next time someone offered not to fight him. Things were bad enough with the split within the party.

'''The start of the [[UsefulNotes/ChineseCivilWar Civil War]]'''

In April 1927, Chiang ordered a series of purges of socialists in the towns and cities under not-communist Guomindang control, starting with Shanghai. The city had largely been abandoned to its own devices after the local warlord had fled the area, and in his wake an uneasy coalition of gangster syndicates and Communist cells took control (the latter led by, among others, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhou_Enlai Zhou Enlai]]).

When the GMD arrived, Chiang sensed that the lower Yangzi might be a strong enough power base to allow him to terminate his alliance with the Communists early, before they gained sufficient influence within the party to betray him. It was a now-or-never decision as well, as the Communist-Guomindang forces had managed to secure Wuhan on the mid-Yangzi, which would offer them a significant support base of their own if they were given time to consolidate their hold on it.

And so, Chiang sided with the gangsters - who exterminated the socialists (within the GMD) with great brutality. Anyone suspected to be a Communist (within the GMD) was shot on the spot. Some people merely wearing red clothing were also killed, as one of the emblems of the CCP were red clothes, particularly red scarves. If a person was found to have red paint on their neck or traces of it, they were shot by the GMD. These massacres quickly spread to other cities, dissolving the alliance and forcing the CCP's standing army to make a stand against Chiang's forces. Outnumbered and with their morale crumbling, their forces were defeated in a series of hammer blows and Wuhan was captured, the CCP's armies melting away into the countryside. Chiang soon had to turn his attention to the drive northward, however, and the mid-Yangzi area was not cleared of communists before he was forced to move on.

What was left of the CCP set up shop in the countryside around the mid-lower Yangzi and founded a series of communes, one of the biggest being in the mountains of Jiangxi Province. They attempted to make the peasantry their new support base, seeing as they had alienated the migrant-workers who made up the industrial proletariat and lost most of their urban contacts in the purges. Like the Guomindang, they gained a measure of popularity among some peasants by policies of rent-reduction and land re-distribution. However, the CCP's policies of land collectivisation, conscription, and campaigns to suppress religion and 'feudal' culture resulted in riots and even outright rebellion against their rule in many areas. They also had serious trouble shaking off the appearance of standing for something - ''Russian'' Communism - that was wholly alien to China, courtesy of GMD propaganda.

The GMD, on the other hand, set up an authoritarian government based out of Nanjing in the lower Yangzi delta (GMD-friendly and -'friendly' warlords remained in control of almost everything south, north, and west/upriver of the mid-Yangzi). Their new regime was marked by an unusually high degree of competence and efficiency (by the rather-low standards of the Chinese governments of the time, and it was to be never seen again until the GMD established itself in Taiwan). As an administration, the Guomindang was hampered at every turn by the need to sustain near-constant campaigning against rebels and rebellious 'allies'. This meant that the Guomindang only had the budget to implement their own programs of rural reform (rent-reduction, limited land-redistribution from the corrupt and obscenely wealthy) in areas where the army was present, particularly during the Soviet-suppression campaigns.

As far as the peasantry was concerned, the GMD was good news as it meant an end to the constant warfare of the warlord era and a drop in their tax-burden (the GMD only collected taxes from the towns and cities under its direct control, which is to say most of those in the provinces along the mid-to-lower Yangzi). Much of this need for constant campaigning was because Chiang and the GMD had become the most powerful force in the country, the natural inclinations of Chiang's warlord 'allies' being to unite ''against'' him to take him down - which they tried, several times, with little success. Chiang attempted to harness the power of 'blueshirts', paramilitary strongmen hired by the Guomindang in its capacity as a political party, to 'influence' public opinion in conjunction with a new secret police force under the secretive and brutal head, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai_Li Dai Li]].

'''The Central Plains War and Anti-Soviet Campaigns'''

With the lower Yangzi cleared of warlords and the borders of Guomindang territory secured, Chiang took the opportunity to consolidate his hold over the region by leading a series of campaigns to destroy the Soviets in the region. Several Soviets were destroyed in just this way, but the Jiangxi Soviet continued to hold out thanks to GMD supply problems, bad terrain, a rebellion in Fujian province, and yet another backstab-invasion of Guomindang territory by Chiang's 'allies'. The 1930 'Central Plains' War' saw a grand alliance of warlords, made up of Feng Yuxiang of Anhui, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yan_Xishan Yan Xishan]] of Shanxi and Shaanxi, and the powerful [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Guangxi_clique New Guangxi Clique]] (including [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Zongren Li Zongren]] and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bai_Chongxi Bai Chongxi]], who would later be among the GMD's most able commanders) to take Chiang down once and for all. Neither [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Yun Long Yun]] of Yunnan nor [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Xueliang Zhang Xueliang ]] of Manchuria rallied to Chiang's defence, and as the Guomindang teetered on the edge of bankruptcy ''Time Magazine'' proclaimed that Yan Xishan would in all probability soon become the next president of China. However, the Guomindang managed to pull through and defeat the numerically-superior forces of each of its enemies in turn, quickly moving to crush Feng's forces and annex his territories before throwing back the armies of Yan and the Guangxi Clique. When Zhang Xueliang moved troops up to his border with Yan, the latter sued for peace with Chiang. Though the war had been a desperate attempt to check his power, Chiang and the Guomindang ultimately emerged from the conflict strong enough to quite literally take on all the Chinese regimes at once and win. However, seeing how the expense of the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Plains_War Central Plains War]] had pretty much broken the proverbial bank, direct annexation of the rest of China was ruled out.

Meanwhile, the CCP had managed to replace its losses as its control of the Jiangxi countryside enabled them to conscript as many men as they needed, using guerilla tactics to harass the forces Chiang left behind whilst he was occupied with fighting elsewhere. However, on the ''Fourth'' Extermination Campaign (1933) Chiang, with help from Alexander von Falkenhausen and no other enemies to deal with, was finally able to pour some decent resources into an improvement upon the old strategy of encirclement and gradual advances. This improved strategy involved the use of several rings of blockhouses and field fortifications which ringed the Jiangxi Soviet and basically besieged them. This cut the Jiangxi Soviet off from outside supply and prevented them launching raids, forcing them to confiscate food from their civilian population and eventually to starve as continuing to do so looked like it would result in rebellion.

[[WarIsHell One million peasant and 60,000 military dead]] later, with Chiang's forces inexorably closing in, the leaders of the Soviet decided to make a desperate move and stage a break-out. They left their wounded and too-weak-to-move soldiers behind and, throwing all their remaining forces behind a desperate attack at a weak point in the blockade, forced their way out and cut a swathe of devastation through the countryside as the force of 100,000 soldiers pillaged and looted their way through the mountains, taking what they needed at gunpoint.

As unimportant and ignominious it seemed at the time, the '[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_March Long March]]' has since been called a pivotal moment in Chinese history. 100,000 soldiers broke out of the Jiangxi Soviet, but less than 20,000 soldiers (half of those 20,000 were survivors from the other mid-lower Yangzi Soviets) made it to the Soviet in Yan'an province. They fled a total of 9,000 kilometres, taking a long route through the Himalayan foothills to avoid Chiang, who used chasing them by his men and his air force as a pretext for a 'Communist Suppression Campaign' which allowed him to effectively seize control of the mid-upper Yangzi. Mao led the main band of Communist soldiers, which finally numbered around 8,000 people. Other groups took different routes, and many were caught and killed to a man, but most ultimately met up at Yan'an.

Along the way they spread CCP propaganda at gunpoint, endearing themselves to the locals by carrying out vigilante executions of corrupt local officials and bad landlords. The Long March effectively gave the CCP a new leadership, as Mao and most of his lackeys and advisors partook in the March, which gave him and his followers a sort of moral authority which (together with ruthlessness and ambition) his competitors lacked. The Long March later acquired something of a mythical status as a result of post-war CCP propaganda, a result of which being that hundreds of people follow the route every year.

The Civil War (temporarily) ended in December 1936 when the brilliant but embittered Manchurian warlord General Zhang Xueliang, son of the 'Old Marshal' warlord Zhang Zuolin[[note]]Who had, funnily enough, been assassinated by the Japanese intelligence services in 1928. This was because Japan was worried that (despite having fought them for control of Beijing) he would be friendly to the Guomindang in future and use his clout with the Soviet Union and the Guomindang to counter Japanese economic and political influence in Manchuria. The move arguably backfired as it inclined his son and successor Zhang Xueliang to do exactly that (Zhang's initial efforts to manipulate the Soviets and the Guomindang were clumsy and led to a brief Sino-Soviet War in 1929, but were more successful after that).[[/note]] and commander of the final Communist Extermination Campaign to destroy the Yan'an Soviet, rebelled.

It had been Zhang who had lost out when elements of Japan's Kwantung army had struck out and established an 'independent' Manchuria in 1931, leaving him only a scrap of his former power-base in the area around Beijing. The remnants of his territory had since been encroached upon as the Japanese Army gave its backing to and carved more 'client states' out of north-eastern China through the 1930s. Knowing that Chiang's campaign had a reasonable chance of success, he betrayed Chiang. Slaughtering Chiang's guards and holding him hostage, Zhang urged him - at gunpoint - to call off the campaign and form a United Front with the Communists (against Japan). It's been argued that Zhang's real hope was that the left-leaning [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Jingwei Wang Jingwei]] would be able to step into the void left by Chiang - Wang was still a powerful figure in the GMD as Chiang had kept him close, as per the old saying[[note]] 'keep your friends close, and your (worst) enemies closer[[/note]]. Wang was widely regarded as a credible alternative to Chiang for the party's leadership, and unlike Chiang he would have had the support of moderates and socialists, something that would've defused or ensured a quick end to the Civil War.

However, Chiang's wife and brother-in-law [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._V._Soong T.V. Soong]] checked Wang's attempts to take over and sabotage the negotiations (in the hopes of getting Chiang killed, making Wang ''de facto'' leader of the Guomindang). Meanwhile, Chiang knew that Zhang was bluffing; if Zhang killed Chiang without Wang being firmly in control (and perhaps even if he was), China would disintegrate again. All the same Chiang agreed to Zhang's terms and, remarkably, kept his word - though he 'did' have Zhang imprisoned for life. The CCP was delighted.

'''The Second Sino-Japanese and Second World Wars'''

Has [[UsefulNotes/SecondSinoJapaneseWar its own article.]] Also, it overlaps nicely with UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. Interestingly, the CCP and the GMD continued to [[WeAreStrugglingTogether fight during the war]]. Guomindang China was officially one of the Allies, but the CCP was neglected by pretty much everybody. It's worth noting that the GMD's reputation as a corrupt, peasant-crushing administration was forged in the course of the war; with huge swathes of its territory occupied, the GMD had to turn to decentralising its administration (devolving power to the local and regional levels) as well as taxing and conscripting the peasantry to survive from about 1939 onwards (after two years of total war). The regime was tottering on the edge of total destruction at the end of 1941, but massive loans from the USA helped stave off the regime's immediate implosion for a time. The inevitable result of such a large cash infusion into the country was, however, inflation on a level that make the pre-existing inflation (courtesy of the GMD's desperate printing of money to avoid taxing its remaining territories into starvation and/or rebellion) several orders of magnitude worse.

'''The end of the Civil War'''

After [=WW2=] was over, the CCP and the GMD turned on each other almost immediately. Chiang was torn between focusing on the anti-CCP campaign and overseeing a process of administrative reform and re-centralisation. Chiang's paranoia was his downfall in this regard, as he trusted too few people as a result of several decades' worth of coup and assassination attempts. Chiang's personal workload was too big for any one man to handle, and both the campaign and the reforms suffered as a result. Though he was the favourite of both Stalin and Roosevelt, and his forces managed to secure the CCP headquarters at Yan'an, his decision to send his best forces to secure Manchuria as the Soviet Union withdrew from the area was a grave mistake. The corruption had also frustrated Truman's government enough that the USA quickly withdrew both their Marines and all support for China, leaving the GMD without a major weapons source.

The result of such a massive deployment of loyal and competent troops away from what should have been the main focus of his campaign - clearing GMD territory of all large Soviets and Communist guerilla forces before moving to encircle and exterminate the Yan'an Soviet, advancing into Manchuria 'last' - was that the CCP was able to execute a fighting retreat from the Soviet and fade away into the countryside to conduct a Guerilla Warfare campaign against substandard forces belonging to Chiang's warlord buddies. Moreover, the decision 'not' to concentrate on eliminating the small Soviets first played havoc with the GMD's supply lines. Chiang had to divert significant forces to the area around Beijing and the Yellow river, where numerous Soviet communes had arisen during the War against Japan.

The first year or so of the war (1946-47) saw the GMD's forces whittled down through an extensive campaign of guerilla warfare, the next two years seeing small and eventually large-scale conventional attacks by the CCP's forces. Much of the action took place in Manchuria initially, where the CCP managed to encircle and exterminate most of Chiang's best and most loyal forces. This led to one reversal after another, with the Communists eventually launching two major campaigns to make the Beijing/North-China area theirs by the beginning of 1949. By this time the numbers on both sides were roughly equal, but this betrayed a huge inequality that resulted from the CCP's relative efficiency as a military organisation (decent) and the GMD's (godawful on account of factional and inter-force rivalries that have to be read about in detail to be understood, let alone believed).

The beaten Chiang Kai-shek retreated to the island of Taiwan - taking a few hundred thousand soldiers, a couple of million refugees, the central bank's gold and silver reserves, and much of the country's best government-owned artwork with him. With most of China (save USSR-influenced Xinjiang and semi-British Tibet, plus the island of Hainan which remained under GMD control for another year) under Communist control, the establishment of a People's Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1st, 1949.


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!!Works set in this period (excluding the UsefulNotes/SecondSinoJapaneseWar):

* The latter parts of ''Series/TowardsTheRepublic'' deal, as the title of the series implies, with the troubled establishment of the Republic of China.
* The second half of ''Literature/MomentInPeking'' takes place between the 1911 revolution and the beginning of the war.
* ''TheSandPebbles'' is about an American gunboat deployed in China at the height of the warlord period.
* ''Raise The Red Lantern'' by ZhangYimou is set in the 1920s.
* ''The Painted Veil'' is about an American couple who go to China for humanitarian field work in the 1920s.
* ''Shanghai Triad'' also by ZhangYimou is set in the 1930s.
* ''Pavilion of Women'' is a novel by Pearl Buck made into a movie in 2001, set in the period just before the beginning of the war.
* ''The Inn of the Sixth Happiness'' is about a British missionary in a remote corner of northern China in the 1930s.
* ''Film/TheBitterTeaOfGeneralYen'' by Frank Capra is about the love story between a warlord and a missionary.
* ComicBook/{{Tintin}}'s adventure ''The Blue Lotus'' depicts the Japanese encroachment on China in the 1930s and the opium trade.
* ''A Pinwheel Without Wind'' (starring Creator/ZhouXun) is set in the short lull between the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the resumption of the civil war in the late 1940s.
* So is the 1948 classic film ''Spring in a Small Town'' (小城之春) by Fei Mu, as well as its 2002 remake by Tian Zhuangzhuang.
* ''Film/TheMummyTombOfTheDragonEmperor'' is set in China in 1946, after the end of the UsefulNotes/SecondSinoJapaneseWar and before the [[RedChina Communist takeover]].
* ''Literature/SuperpowerEmpireChina1912'' is an AlternateHistory work that looks at what might have happened if Yuan Shikai had died in 1912 instead of 1916.
* ''1911'', starring Creator/JackieChan as Huang Xing, Sun Yat-sen's NumberTwo.
* The opening scene of ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom''.
* ''Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst'' (1957) is a British war film that tells the story of the British frigate HMS Amethyst caught up in the Chinese Civil War.

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!!Tropes:

* AlwaysABiggerFish: Local warlord being an EvilOverlord? Well, there are always the Nationalists. Inefficient GMD control? Wait for the Imperial Japanese Army. And lets not forget about the Americans supporting the GMD to keep the bulk of the IJA tied down in China (which they did admirably). GMD now ruling over most of China? It seems that the Soviets have just dumped half of their captured Japanese equipment onto the newly-formed PLA, who will proceed to win the next civil war using those.
* ArmiesAreEvil: Warlord armies were, as a rule, brutal and corrupt. Many often attacked villages for loot or just to get food.
* ArmsDealer: It could be said that every major country sold arms to the warlords. Everything from Japanese rifles, French tanks, Italian aircraft, and Russian machine guns were a part of at least one warlord's arsenal.
* AttackAttackAttack: One of the biggest problems of GMD army. Jiang Jieshi was adamant on constant offensives. While this worked agains barely cohesive warlord armies, it was a suicide to pull against Japanese, who had clear numerical, technological and equipment superiority. This killed in the opening months most of GMD's best, German-trained divisions, wasted on unwinnable battles and took another few months of constant defeats for Jiang to finally wise up a bit. But at that point GMD army was a pale shadow of its already dire situaion from the first day of the war. However, it should be noted the fierce, almost fanatical defense forced Imperial Army to commit much more troops that they wanted or could supply in China. This helped GMD to bargain for Allied support once [=WW2=] started and Asian interests of the UK and the USA were in danger.
* BalkanizeMe: During the Warlord Era, the collapse of the central government resulted in the warlords setting up their own petty states, usually based on geographical bounds.
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: Feng Yuxiang, one of the warlords that ruled the northwest China, and the aforementioned Christian General (yes, that's one of his nicknames). He backstabbed too many times, to the point where his men started calling him Betrayal General. Before he died in a shipwreck he finally stuck with the pro-socialist side of GMD. On the other hand, pretty much all of the warlord did so during the time.
* CrazyAwesome: Zhang Zongchang, the warlord that ruled Shandong at the time. During his rule in Shandong, he finally learnt to write and then proceed to produce gems like "let the cannon bombard YourMom" in his collection of abnormal poems. He also solved local drought by slapping the statue of the local rain god, and then ordered his men to pull cannons onto a hill and shoot the sky. He had the nickname of the "Three Don't Knows," because he allegedly didn't know how many concubines he had, how much money, and how many soldiers he commanded. He is also one of the more successful warlords at the time, using armored trains and experienced White Russian mercenaries as his forces.
** Wu Peifu, 'the Philosopher General'.
* EagleSquadron:
** The 1st American Volunteer Group, also known as [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Tigers Flying Tigers]], under general Claire Chennault, is among the most famous examples in history. It turned out to be highly efficient unit despite miniscule size. Ironically, while formed as a direct support for Guomindang, it gained a massive propaganda value ''for Americans'', as it became operational just few days after Pearl Harbour, directly engaging and winning with Japanese while American forces were losing ground all over Pacific. Eventually the unit was reformed into "official" US Army Air Force unit. Today its probably mostly known for the iconic shark-teeth nose paint.
** Earlier in the war, out of all people, ''Soviets'' send their pilots, planes and personel to help Guomindang fighting the Japanese, lending in total over 800 planes and 250 pilots for them under the Operation Zet. While ideologies were at clash and officially Soviet Union withdrawed all support from Nationalists in 1927 (due to collapse of the shaky Nationalist-Communist alliance), [[EnemyMine Empire of Japan and its mainland ambitions were deemed much more dangerous]] than Guomindang could ever be. Even after withdrawal of Soviet pilots, most of their planes were left behind and created the backbone of Chinese air forces.
* EasyLogistics: Not so much averted, but nuked from the orbit. Due to great distances, non-existing infrastructure and having a ''single line'' of railway in all of China, the entire period saw a massive struggle to move just about any amount of resources or troops over even short distances. Then Japanese forces took over most of the communication lines and further escalated after they took over all ports ''and'' Burma, virtually cutting GMD from outside support. On the other hand, this lack of infrastructure eventually bogged down the Imperial Army to a halt.
* EmbarrassingNickname: As part of his slander toward Chiang Kai-Shek, General Joseph Stilwell coined "Peanut Head" and the famous "General Cash-My-Check" nicknames. Ironically, the actual costs of land lease for GMD ''were'' peanuts when compared with all other war efforts, but due to Stilwell's reports it still looked like a waste. What those reports kept ommiting was the fact GMD tied down a third of the entire Imperial Japanese Army in China, distracting them from further defending their islands.
* EnemyMine: The 'cooperation' between the Communists and the Nationalists was primarily over the threat of the Japanese. Consisted primarily of not shooting each other for the most part.
* ExactWords: "The Chinese Communist Party does not endorse the use of opium within its territory." This did not stop them growing it and selling it to people outside their soviets.
** At one point Zhang Zongchang claimed that he would either gain victory or return home in a coffin, he lost and was pushed back and true to his word he returned home in a coffin, though very much alive and he went on fighting for years after that.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Both the Communist party and Mao went this way
** The party initially had less than few dozens of members and that situation kept going for few initial years. With zero public support, badly organised, fully dependend on Soviet advisors and monetary support, and worst of them all, completely detatched ideologically from Chinese reality, the party was barely functional. Cue few years later being the main and almost obsessive target of Jiang Jieshi's expeditions and then anything after the Long March is pretty much a legend. Currently the Party is still rulling continental China and it will stay around for at least a while longer.
** Due to mentioned above early situation of the party, Mao was quite openly considering leaving it for good, as he didn't even show on the annual meeting. Then he was constantly side-tracked by each new leadership. By the time of the Long March, he was third-ranking member with barely any power. By the end of the March, he was the de facto leader of the party and nothing was going to change that. Few years later he became leader of entire China and not counting few [[TenMinuteRetirement periods of consolidation]], he stayed in this position until death, while his cult as the father of the nation still lives.
* GeneralFailure: ZigZagged with Jiang Jieshi. By all accounts, he wasn't good or even decent commander, but in the same time he was far from bad or incompetent. And his Northern Expeditions proved quite successful after all. On the other hand, his increasing paranoia, all the infighting within armed forces ''and'' the party, the constantly shifting alliances and most importantly - his staunch desire to personally control ''everything'' eventually led to his undoing, as there was just too much for a single mastermind to handle, which Chiang Kai-Shek was far from.
* GoodGunsBadGuns: The Mauser C96 was used a lot in the different wars during this era. It used to be a "bad guy gun" due to frequent use by warlords, but stopped after the Chinese started using it in wide quantities, most notably during the Second Sino-Japanese War and in World War II as the main sidearm of many soldiers.
** The [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanyang_88 Hanyang 88]] rifle was first used during the 1911 Revolution to overthrow the Qing Dynasty, and was given to provincial troops by the Nationalists during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Similarly, the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek_rifle Type 24]] rifle, a copy of the Mauser M1924 (itself the prototype for the Karabiner 98k) became the standard service rifle of the Nationalist Army in World War 2, and was later used by both sides in the Chinese Civil War.
** This gets an amusing inversion in case of Communist Chinese films of the 1950s-70s set during the Civil War. The heroes tend to be either Communists or at least neutral parties with good combat skills, occasionally becoming a BadassArmy in propaganda films. The bad guys tend to be Nationalists, occasionally using surplus German helmets, gear and weapons, playing the local equivalent of ThoseWackyNazis and behaving like aggressive thugs, as well as being depicted as a RedshirtArmy of 'reactionaries' despite their superior equipment.
* HitAndRunTactics: Preferred tactics of Communists ever since the Long March. And one of the main reasons why they've won in the end. Mao was apparently a keen reader of Literature/TheArtOfWar, following certain tactics from it to the T.
* JoinOrDie: Knowing how bad the morale of GMD forces are, PLA commanders were often giving this choice to encircled enemy units. Unsuprisingly, most of GMD troops, especially those coming from former warlord armies, preferred to change side than get killed.
* KlingonPromotion: A common way for warlords to succeed their superior.
* LetsYouAndHimFight: The most efficient strategy used by Mao during initial stages of Second Sino-Japanese War was watching from afar how Japanese and Nationalists bleed each other out.
* OutsideContextProblem: GMD "alliance" with German government, especially after Nazis took over. Both sides did it for purely practical and trade-related reasons: German industry needed cheap resources China could provide, while GMD needed weapons and military instructors. The deal quickly became problematic after Japan declared war on China and was officially cancelled soon after. Even if so, Communists used this fact extensively in their propaganda. It also left a lot of bad air for American good will toward land lease.
* {{Plunder}}: After capturing Manchuria from Japanese, Red Army troops were busy dismantling in a systematic way everything that wasn't nailed to the ground and shipping it directly to war-torn Soviet Union. And when they were done with that, they've also dismantled sizable part of the railway lines Japanese build there since the proclaimation of Manchukuo.
* PresidentForLife: Yuan Shikai initial ambition. It quickly turned into styling himself as the new emperor.
* ProxyWar: Minor case when compared with incoming UsefulNotes/KoreanWar, but the reignited civil war saw massive Soviet support for the Communists, while Nationalists were backed by United States. In fact, the strong US involvement in Korea was in part caused by the failure to keep communism at bay in China.
* PuppetState: Japanese were setting those up in controlled territories to give a more friendly facade to their rule and then exploited them ruthlessly. The most prominent case was Manchukuo, established in 1932 with Pu-Yi, the last Manchu emperor of China (deposed as a little boy), as it's formal ruler.
* ThePurge: Jiang Jieshi did it to the Communists (within the GMD) when he figured they were becoming dangerous. In 1927, he cooperated with local gangsters to massacre as much Communists as possible in Shanghai, leading to many fleeing into the countryside where they were tracked down and shot. He was right, actually; they were always planning to betray him, he just betrayed them first. Also, the Nationalists and Communists to themselves. Mao was not top dog by a long shot when he was carried by sedan chair on the Long March, for instance.
* TheQuisling: Wang Jingwei, once one of the most prominent people in the GMD, started a collaborationist government with Japanese soon after the war broke out. To this day, his name is synonymous with traitor in Chinese.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Being send to China was considered as a dead-end for military career in US Army. General Joseph Stilwell took it [[{{Understatement}} really, really bad]] when instead of commanding [[WorldWarII/WarInEuropeAndAfrica North African campaign]], we was personally selected by Roosevelt to keep China fighting with Japan. It ended up with open and irrational disdain for Jiang Jieshi and General Chennault (commander of the Flying Tigers), ''seriously'' hampering support for GMD with slanderous reports sent back to US.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: GMD could probably fight for another decade, if not even get another cease-fire, but then [[DisasterDominoes Liaoshen Campaign happend]]. Entire North collapsed, taken over by Communists, in the process wiping out the GMD's [[BadassArmy New 1st Army]]. It hit morale so bad, the biggest enemy of GMD became widespread desertion. Entire brigades were either outright disappearing or, which was far worse, switching sides and joining PLA, thus providing Communists with well-trained soldiers, capable of using tanks and heavy ordnance.
* AStormIsComing: The short period between Japanese surrender and the resumption of the civil war was relatively peaceful (at least when compared with the slaughter going for past 12 years), but everyone was aware it won't last for long. GMD used that time to desperately storage as much supplies and conscript as many people as they could, fully knowing they will have to abandon certain areas pretty soon. Meanwhile, Communists were forming entire divisions using Japanese hardware handled over by Soviets.
* TheUriahGambit: Used by Jiang all the time to get rid of or weaken troublesome elements within the army and party. Doing too well for yourself? Here, defend this town against the Japanese...
* TheTriadsAndTheTongs: Due to the breakdown of organized government and the general corruption of institutions, criminal organizations were quite powerful throughout the period. The most powerful man in Shanghai, for example, was a triad boss named Du Yuesheng.
* VillainProtagonist: No matter what, no side in the conflict could be called "good". Both Nationalists and Communists commited absurd amount of atrocities, combined with vantom corruption and constant backstabbing in respective parties.
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: General Joseph Stilwell, the main aide send by president Roosevelt, turned out to be this when most of the red tape was eventually removed from the archives. While Stilwell himself was not a bad general, his desire for glory and increasing hatred of Chiang corrupted him. During his entire tenure he made sure to paint Chiang Kai-Shek in the worst possible light in his reports, while greatly boosting his own image as the OnlySaneMan for the American public and top brass. In reality, during his time in China, Stilwell was petty and vindicative and by all accounts, was an extremely stubborn individual with a fierce fixation on "besting" Jiang, or the "peanut", and showing him his "right place". It reached levels of outright malice, as he intentionally didn't leave a single page of briefing for his replacement, General Wedemeyer, while getting rid of most of tactical and strategic data and never meeting the man in person. Although Wedemeyer did his best to improve the situation and even suggested shipping loads of surplus German ammunition and weapons to China, the damage was already done and the American government saw Chiang as a stubborn fool leading an astoundingly corrupt government that was constantly begging for handouts.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Arguably, this is what the Communists were like before taking over. [[UsefulNotes/CulturalRevolution Afterwards]]...
* WeAREStrugglingTogether:
** The "alliance" of Guomindang, Communists and all remaining warlords is probably one of the most famous cases in real life. China itself during the Warlord Period can count too, since nominally it was still single, integral country.
** It was even worse within Guomindang military command. Jiang Jieshi, Joseph Stilwell and Claire Chennault hated each other to the point where they were making tactical and strategical decisions entirely based on spiting their personal enemy. Jiang and Chennault resolved their issues pretty quick, but remained with bitter and mutual hatred toward Stilwell, eventually getting him removed from command.
*** And let's not even start about [[DysfunctionJunction inter-GMD infights and schemes]]...
* WeHaveReserves: Reached astonishing levels when the civil war restarted. After proclaiming their land reform, Communist gained massive surge of manpower, further helped by over a decade of field work among peasants. They were thus perfectly capable of throwing million after million of people at GMD positions, lose them all... and still bring new divisions, while Nationalists were slowly, but steadily losing precious, well-trained veterans, with no means to replenish their ranks.
* YouAreInCommandNow: Mao eventual ascent as the leader of the Communists was achieved mostly due to the fact everyone else outranking him in the old Party structures or having bigger authority was killed or died during the Long March. The remaining big-wigs were [[AppealToForce quickly]] [[AppealToFear convinced]] by troops loyal to Mao to follow the new boss.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: When Zhang Zuolin's army failed to stop the Nationalists during the Northern Expedition, the Japanese decided to get rid of him by blowing up his train while he was returning to Manchuria.
* YoungerThanTheyLook: Despite appearing on almost all photos as senile old men, Yuan Shikai was barely 53 when he took over and 57 when he died. This is especially jarring when compared with Jiang Jieshi, who was roughtly the same age during UsefulNotes/SecondSinoJapaneseWar.

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