Yuan Shikai: The leader of the Beiyang Army

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Yuan Shikai.[File photo]

Yuan Shikai.[File photo] 

Yuan Shikai (1859-1916), was the leader of the Beiyang Army.

In 1895, he was recommended by Li Hongzhang to train the New Army in Tianjin. As commander-in-chief, he quickly raised his own troops.

In the Hundred Days' Reform of 1898, Yuan gave the reformists away to win support from the Qing court. The next year, his successful suppression of the Boxer Movement won him a name in China and abroad.

Yuan's official career was suspended briefly, for the Manchurian nobles felt threatened by his powerful Beiyang Army. Shortly after the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, Yuan was restored to the post with the hope that he would help the Qing court.

However, Yuan joined the revolutionary side and forced the Qing emperor to abdicate. In 1912, Yuan became the provisional president of the Republic of China, and took office as president the following year.

In 1915, Yuan proclaimed himself "Emperor," in an attempt to revive the monarchy. However, the next year he was forced to abandon monarchism under nationwide condemnation. He died in Beijing shortly after.

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