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Yuan Shikai


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Chinese soldier and statesman, who established his military reputation in Korea and returned to China to undertake a programme of army reform. Yuan Shikai supported the empress dowager Cixi in her suppression of the Hundred Days Reform. Dismissed from office after her death (1908), he retired to his old power base in northern China. He was recalled by the court when the Chinese Revolution of 1911 began, but he temporarily sided with the republicans and advised the emperor to abdicate. In 1912 he became President of the republic. Initially successful in restoring central control, his suppression of Sun Yat-sen's Kuomintang, dissolution of Parliament, and his submission to Japan's Twenty-One Demands provoked a second revolution in the Yangtze region. He had himself proclaimed emperor in 1916, but died shortly afterwards, leaving China divided between rival warlords.

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