Alternate History

Republic of China (Beijing) (Twilight of a New Era)

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Republic of China
Zhōnghuá Mínguó
Timeline: Twilight of a New Era

OTL equivalent: China
Flag of the Republic of China (1912-1928) Republic of China - Beiyang clique
National flag (Five Races Under One Union) National State seal (since 1920)
Territory of the Republic of China (includes claims over Tibet, Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Taiwan)
Anthem "How Great is Our China! (unofficial)"
Capital Beijing
Largest city Beijing
Chinese (Standard Mandarin) and Traditional Chinese has official script
  others Chinese (Wu, Yue (Cantonese), Min, Xiang, Gan, and Hakka), Zhuang (Thai), Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur (Turkic), Hmong and Korean.
Secular state
  others Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, Islam, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism
Ethnic Groups
  others Manchu, Mongol, Hui (Muslim Han) and Tibetan
Demonym Chinese
Government Unitary parliamentary republic (1912-1914), unitary presidential republic (1914-1915), unitary constitutional monarchy (1915-1916), unitary parliamentary republic (1916-1923) Unitary semi-presidential republic (1923-1935)
Premier of State Council
Area 9,604,086 km²
Established 1912
Independence from Chinese Empire
Annexation to Republic of China (Nanjing)
  date 1935
Currency Chinese Silver Dollar, Customs tael (海關両) and Yuan (元), informally called Northern Yuan (北元)

The Republic of China in Beijing (or First Republic), was a Chinese State that existed from 1912 to 1935. Annexed by the Second Republic.


On the Revolution of 1912 the republic was initially considered the successor of the Qing Dynasty, ending centuries of Imperial rule. Sun Yat-sen was its first president, until the end of 1912 when he was replaced by Yuan Shikai. His dictatorship would start the National Protection War (1915-1916) against Yuan. In this turmoil Tibet proclaimed its autonomy under the patronage of the British Empire and soon afterward the rest of China would be controlled by local warlords who would nominally recognize the rule of Beijing when it suits their interests. The Beiyang clique, the main military army group, controlled the republic. Despite its commanding position, continuous intergroup fighting and quarrels failed to centralise political and military power to any degree.

In 1916 a rival Republic of China was proclaimed in Nanjing (Second Republic), under the leadership of Sun and nationalists. During 1916-1935 the Republic of China at Beijing, controlled the North of China. Formal allies where the cliques that controlled Xinjiang and Ma warlords. More difficult were the relations with the autonomous Fengtian clique in control Fengtian Province and Manchuria, that enjoyed almost complete independence and the interest of Imperial Japan to gain access to the said zone.

The failed Mongolian Campaign (1919-1921) would lead to officially recognized the independence of Outer Mongolia. The Japanese Imperial Army established Manchuria (1934) and Inner Mongolia (1932) these has independent states.

The nationalist government of Nanjing would start the South and North campaigns for the reunification of China under one central government. At the Battle of Beijing (1935) the NRA and PLA decisively defeated the Beiyang clique army (Chinese Army) and took the capital.


The basic law is the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China of 1912, later replaced by a constitutional compact instituted by Yuan Shikai in 1913. However, it was restored once again in 1916 after the victory over Yuan in the National Protection War.

According to the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China of 1912 and reforms of 1918 and 1923

  • The executive power resides in the President of the Republic (Head of State). He is elected, along with the vice president by a joint session of the National Assembly for a five year term. He names the President (Premier) of the Executive Council and ministers. The President is the supreme commander of the army, navy and air force. The President is also in charge of foreign affairs and diplomacy, the civil service at all its levels, supervises relations with minority groups (Manchus, Mongols, Hui and Tibetans) and Overseas Chinese, and names the provincial governors. The President can also decree state of emergency and issue decrees.
  • The Premier (Head of Government) and the State Council are named by the President but subject to the consent of the House of Representatives. State Council executes all administrative affairs and duties assigned by the law and the Legislative Congress, plans and executes the national budget. The most important ministries were military affairs (a merger of the navy and army ministries), finance, communications and interior. The minister of foreign affairs was directly named and responsible to the President of the Republic.
  • The National Assembly (former Advisory Council 1912-1913) is the supreme constituent and legislative power. It is elected every four years, but it can extend its mandate. It's composed of a Senate (elected by provincial assemblies) and a House of Representatives (elected by an electoral college picked by a limited public franchise.)
  • A Supreme Court, nominated by the President on advice of the Senate, directs and manages all courts of justice. A State Prosecutor is in charge of supervising, guiding and enforcing public prosecution on behalf of the State and investigation of criminal cases.

Administrative division

The First Republic was internally divided into:

  • Provinces (省, shěng), in charge of a Governor and an elected provincial assembly.
  • Circuits (道, dào).
  • Counties (縣, xiàn), in charge of a County Governor and an elected county assembly.

The affairs of the Manchus, Mongols, Hui and Tibetans are administered by the Bureau of Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs, Bureau of Manchu Affairs and Bureau of Muslim, Affairs, all named and directly under the supervision of President. The Ministry of Overseas Chinese Affairs, although named by the President, is supervised by the Executive Council and Legislative Congress.


After the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, a plethora of parties appeared to compete for the upcoming National Assembly elections. The four largest winners were the Nationalist Party representing revolutionaries, the Republican Party representing militarists, the Unity Party representing the gentry, and the Democratic Party representing former constitutional monarchists. The latter three merged to form the Progressive Party in May 1913. The party's platform was nationalism with strong central government, liberty through the rule of law, and peaceful foreign policy. As the second largest party, it portrayed the rival Nationalists as supporters of mob rule.

After the failed Second Revolution against Yuan Shikai, the Nationalist leadership fled China and regrouped as the Chinese Revolutionary Party (succeeded by the KMT). The Progressives were split into pro- and anti-Yuan factions during the National Protection War.

Military Organization

The Chinese Army was based on the Beiyang Army. It was also the model on which the military forces of other provinces should be standardized. It was the best the equipped and trained military force in China, with its elite corps stationed in Beijing. Yuan Shikai and almost all the generals and officers of the Beiyang Army were influential and powerful political figures in the government of Beijing. After the fall of Yuan the agenda of the leading Beiyang warlords was to re-unify China by first reuniting the Beiyang Army and then conquering the lesser provincial armies. However, several provincial military cliques resisted the re-unification and bargained with Beijing their autonomy.

Although formally the Chinese Air Force was organized in the Ministry of Aviation, there was no central air force, instead provincial warlords and Beiyang Army had independent airplane fleets.

The Republic of China Navy (ROCN) was established as the Ministry of the Navy in the Provisional Government of the Republic of China in 1911 following the overthrow of the Qing dynasty. During the fragmentation and civil war that scarred China the ROCN defected to the Nationalist government in Nanjing instead of the government in Beijing.

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