A Historic Introduction to the City of Beijing 1911 AD - 1937 AD
The Bank of China on Tian'AnMen Squares Western Flank, a relic from the Colonial Period and the Era of the First Republic of China, created in 1911 AD.
Beijing after 1911 and the Fall of the Qing Dynasty.
The Final Demise of the Qing Dynasty in the 1911 AD Xinhai Revolution, which later turned out to have been a Coup D'Etat, only did more to internationalize the beforehand closed Imperial City. Already had railroads been accepted, and even the Empress-Dowager herself had ridden such a steaming and breathing Iron Monster upon her return
Map of The Beijing and Wider Region in 1912 AD
A Shematic Map of Beiping (Beijing) and immediate vicinity in the Year 1912 AD, using the Old (and oudated) naming sytem.
first being led by Dr. Sun Yat Sen, its founder, who was soon replaced by the infamous General Chiang Kai Shek. It was a heavy blow for the City, which in the last 8 Centuries had existed mainly for but 1 reason- the Government and Administration of the Giant Nation.
In the intervening period, Beijing reverted to its Old name of Beiping, but with westerners was known as Peking. During the following Era Beijing had its own powerfull Clique, which however cooperated with the Kuomintang led National Government in Nanjing as well as the various influential colonial parties operating in the wider North-Eastern Region. Beijing and Nanjing were still important trading centers in the North, and both Cities counted a large Japanese Population and a crowd of other Foreign Residents. Furthermore, Beijing and Tianjin together formed a Gateway into the Chinese hinterland, making them strategically important. While the development of railways, mining and industry in the Region was slowly gaining steam, Beijing only gained in importance as a transportation node and a territory with enormous promise for future profits. Threats were looming on the Horizon, especially in the Shape of Japanese ambitions.
Already with the humiliating defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (10 February 1904 AD – 5 September 1905 AD) Japanese influence over the three north-eastern Provinces known as Manchuria had won out over any Russian efforts. Not long after, around the year 1910 AD the Japanese Army defeated the Qing Dynasty Army at Pyongyang driving China from the Korean Peninsula. In the ensuing period the Japanese Army entered Liaoning in attempt to grab control of all of Korea as well as Manchuria. Thus the entire North-East was annexed by the Japanese Empire, turning it eventually into the Puppet State of Manchukuo and starting a reign of terror and destruction that would last until the final Japanese Capitulation in 1945 AD.
to the City in 1908 AD. Now a whole new political system had been introduced.
The Foreign influence remained and only enlarged as foreign Capital fluxed in to meet the opportunities found in the endless labor and raw materials of the Chinese Empire. The new Republican Government embraced foreign technologies and thus Beijing saw changes in everything. Military Uniforms were now western styled, there were tram- and bus-services within the old city and later beyond. And foreign costume, foreign theatre, telephones, photography (first seen as an evil soul taking invention), automotive vehicles and all other foreign inventions were slowly absorbed by the Chinese Nation and the political elite in Beijing. The military enjoyed new practice, education and modern weaponry. For all those who had found fortune with the new capitalist development of Chinese resources it was a happy time. The first International Schools were created in Beijing and a true western oriented and styled "Peking University" opened its doors with heavy American and British sponsorship. Even the former Emperor, Pu Yi, was kept reasonably content with opportunities to star as an International Playboy and rub elbows with a completely new and quite vibrant international Elite.
For the lowly common citizens there were new job opportunities. Among things, the Time of the Republic and Japanese Ambitions in China provided for the introduction of the now famous but nearly extinct Beijing Rickshaw. Others were hired as nanny's, chef's, housekeepers and gardeners by the first foreign expats to move into the City. Culture thrived upon the newly found elements.
Unfortunately however, the new Republic - originally intended as a true western styled democracy - failed miserably in a large and complete illiterate and under-educated Nation. As the so called Revolution of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen degraded into a blunt Coup D'Etat by former Ching General Yuan Shi-Kai (henceforth known as the betrayer of the Nation) degenerated into a Restoration of the Feudal Dynastic System under the new Emperor Yuan Shi-Kai, China turned away from National Unity under idealistic terms and fragmented into its main provinces and regions. The new Emperor was left ignored and passed away soon after, leaving China to slowly sink into a pit of warlordism and regional politics.
Beijing during the "National Government" Period 1928 AD - 1937 AD
With the National decline came the slow decline of the status of Beijing as an important political center. Eventhough the City was still the Northern Capital (=Bei Ping), the main political events seemed to be unwinding in the South.
Eventually, souther forces United under the Kuomintang Party, heavily influenced by the idea's of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and attempted the creation of a new National Government.
Beijing lost the status of Capital once more in the year 1928 AD, when the KuoMinTang
political party, after various successes on the so-called Northern Expedition (1926-1927), established a National Government at southern Nanjing. The City of Nanjing would remain the Capital of China for some considerable period, the so-called National Government
Yuan Shi-Kai, in his Uniform as President of Republic of China. Yuan Shi-Kai was a Ching Court Official & General , later shortly President and one-day-fly Emperor.
Read More of the Early History of Beijing in:
Beijing City during the Japanese Occupation (1937 AD - 1945 AD)
More Battles between Chinese Nationalist Forces and the Japanese were fought in the 1930's, when Japanese Forces in Manchuria began trickling down into the North-Chinese Province of Hebei (Hopei at the Time). In spring of 1933 AD it came to a battle with the Japanese invaders at the Great Wall of China on the Liaoning Province Border. In a first incident, the Japanese invaders were resisted and defeated at Xifengkou by Kuomintang troops. After changing their strategy, the Japanese invaders began to attack Luowenyu and Longjing passes in North-East Hebei Province. At First the Chinese managed to hold off the -as yet undeclared- Japanese invasion, however due to Central Government Policy and political maneuvering the North-
The Great Wall of China on the Liaoning-Hebei Province Border, one of three sites of Battle in 1937 AD (as Photographed in 1908 AD by William Geil).
West and its defenders were essentially abbandonned by the Central Government who prefered to deal with Internal Enemies before dealing with the Japanese. This attitude left the Japanese Forces ample opportunity to creep ever nearer Beijing. For the Time being, the City seemed to remained untouched by all the Events. Yet, behind the every day facade, many parties were hard at work trying to balance the ever shifting political situation in the North.
Beijing was an influential city, a crossroads of multiple international railway lines, the Home of International Embassies and Firms, and basicly held a modest but independant lifestyle. Ordinary life continued in the city amidst its modernizations, the foreigners and occasional political upheavals.