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The Anhui clique (simplified Chinese: 皖系军阀; traditional Chinese: 皖系軍閥; pinyin: Wǎn Xì Jūn Fá) was a military and political organization, one of several mutually hostile cliques or factions that split from the Beiyang Clique in the Republic of China's Warlord era. It was named after Anhui province because several of its generals--including its founder, Duan Qirui--were born in Anhui. It could be considered a legacy of Anhui native Li Hongzhang, who created and built a network of officers during and after the Taiping Rebellion. Because the Anhui clique organized itself very early, it was more politically sophisticated than its warlord rivals.

Anhui clique
Country Republic of China
AllegianceBeiyang government
EngagementsZhili–Anhui War
Occupation of Mongolia
PresidentDuan Qirui



With Japanese support and the suppression of the Manchu Restoration, it became the most powerful faction in China from 1916 to 1920. They had an uneasy co-existence with the Zhili clique and Fengtian clique in the Beiyang government. They advocated a hardline during the Constitutional Protection War. The May Fourth Movement weakened their influence and eventually led to the Zhili-Anhui War in 1920 which saw the surprise defeat of the Anhui clique.[1] Duan resigned and the clique lacked national leadership for the next four years when all their provinces were eventually gobbled up by the Zhili clique by the summer of 1924. (Shandong was an anomaly, the Zhili clique appointed an Anhui general in 1923 there provided he remain neutral, see Shandong Problem. Zheng Shiqi ruled until 1925 when he transferred it to Fengtian's Zhang Zongchang per agreement with Duan.) After the Beijing coup, Feng Yuxiang and Zhang Zuolin picked Duan to lead a provisional government. Lacking any significant military power, he and his few remaining supporters played Feng and Zhang against each other. They removed him from power and his last followers joined the Fengtian clique.

Political wingEdit

They also had a political wing known as the Anfu Club (literally, Peace and Happiness Club, after a Beijing lane where they met; folk etymology claims it was a pun on Anhui and Fujian) which consisted of politicians that threw their fortune in with Duan. Formed on 7 March 1918 by Xu Shuzheng and Wang Yitang, it ran for elections for the northern National Assembly and won three-fourths of the seats primarily because Anhui warlords bought the votes. They were a highly disciplined party created to push Duan's agenda through legal means such as electing fellow party member Xu Shichang as President of the ROC. Before the Zhili-Anhui War, it was also supported by the Fengtian clique, Xinjiang clique, and Shanxi clique. The Anhui clique was later destroyed after the Zhili-Anhui War when the Assembly was disbanded.

Financial wingEdit

Their financial wing was the New Communications Clique (1916-1919) led by Cao Rulin. It was the rival to Liang Shiyi's Old Communications Clique. Cao's conduct during the Paris Peace Conference led to the May Fourth Movement and his dismissal.

Notable peopleEdit

Name Years of dominance Notes
Duan Qirui


  1916–1926 - Premier: 1913, 1916–18; President: 1924-26

- Negotiated the Nishihara Loans with Japan in exchange for Shandong Concession, triggering the May Fourth Movement

Xu Shuzheng


  1916–1920 - Duan Qirui's right-hand man

- Led expedition that reconquered Mongolia and temporarily brought it back under control

Duan Zhigui


  - Minister of War: 1917-1919
Jin Yunpeng


  - Premier: 1919-1921
Wang Yitang


  - Chairman of the House of Representatives 1918-1920
Lu Yongxiang


  - Ruler of Zhejiang and Shanghai, his refusal to hand over Shanghai caused the Second Zhili–Fengtian War
Zhang Jingyao


  1917–1920 - Governor of Hunan noted for his exceptional brutality

- Assassinated in 1933 after he became involved with the Japanese plot to enthrone Puyi as emperor of Manchukuo

Wu Guangxin


  1917–1920 - Governor of Hunan[2]
Ni Sichong


  - former supporter of Yuan Shikai's Empire; eliminated in the Zhili-Anhui War
Qu Tongfeng[3]


Chen Shufan


Zheng Shiqi


  1923-1925 Military governor of Shandong (1923–25) and Anhui (1925).[4]


  1. ^ Anthony B. Chan (1 October 2010). Arming the Chinese: The Western Armaments Trade in Warlord China, 1920-28, Second Edition. UBC Press. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-0-7748-1992-3.
  2. ^ Edward A. Mccord, The Power of the Gun, The Emergence of Modern Chinese Warlordism, University of California Press, Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford © 1993 The Regents of the University of California
  3. ^ 保定士官学校第三任校长--曲同丰
  4. ^ Rulers Index Z Archived March 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine

See alsoEdit