Feng Guozhang

Feng Guozhang, (simplified Chinese: 冯国璋; traditional Chinese: 馮國璋; pinyin: Féng Guózhāng; Wade–Giles: Feng Kuo-chang; courtesy: Huafu 華甫 or 華符) (January 7, 1859 – December 12, 1919) was a Chinese general and politician in early republican China. He held the office of Vice-President and then President of the Republic of China. He is considered the founder of the Zhili Clique of Warlords that vied for control of northern China during the chaotic Warlord era.

Feng Guozhang
Feng-Kwo-Chang, President of China (9to12).jpg
Acting President of the Republic of China
In office
6 August 1917 – 10 October 1918
Preceded byLi Yuanhong
Succeeded byXu Shichang
Vice President of the Republic of China
In office
June 7, 1916 – July 1, 1917
PresidentLi Yuanhong
Preceded byLi Yuanhong
Succeeded byPost abolished
Personal details
Born(1859-01-07)7 January 1859
Hejian, Hebei, Qing Dynasty
Died12 December 1919(1919-12-12) (aged 60)
Beijing, Republic of China
Political partyZhili clique
Other political
Progressive Party
Alma materBaoding Military Academy
OccupationMilitary Officer
AwardsOrder of Rank and Merit
Order of the Precious Brilliant Golden Grain
Order of Wen-Hu
Military service
Allegiance Qing Dynasty
Republic of China (1912–1949) Republic of China
Zhili Clique
RankGeneral officer
Battles/warsXinhai Revolution
Second Revolution
National Protection War
Manchu Restoration
Warlord Era

Early lifeEdit

Feng Guozhang was born to a real estate family in Hejian, Hebei (Zhili). His family had fallen on hard times and was forced to sell its properties to educate its sons; however being the fourth son, Feng was unable to complete his education due to costs.[1] He reputedly had to survive part of his early life by playing the violin in theatres.[2]

Early careerEdit

Feng Guozhang in 1911

Without much recourse, Feng enlisted in the army, then undergoing reforms that would eventually create the Beiyang Army under the command of Yuan Shikai. Feng performed admirably and came to the notice of a battalion commander, who referred him to the Baoding Military Academy.[2] It was at Baoding where he would make key friends and allies who would serve him well later on. In 1895 Feng was sent to Tokyo to serve as a military attaché and came to the attention of Yuan Shikai, who began to groom him to be one of his supporters within the Beiyang Army. However, when Yuan was forced to retire in 1908 by Manchu nobles fearful of his growing power, Feng managed to maintain a good relationship with both sides.[2]

In October 1911, after the outbreak of the Wuchang Uprising, he was ordered by the Qing Court to suppress the revolution in Wuhan. He held back the Beiyang Army until Yuan Shikai was restored to power and then proceeded to capture Hankou and Hanyang from the revolutionaries in the Battle of Yangxia. On October 14 he was appointed to command the Second Army (consisting of two divisions) by the imperial court. In the battle he ordered the razing of Hankou. Then, following orders from Yuan Shikai, he halted the Qing military's advance on Wuchang. Yuan then negotiated the abdication of the Last Emperor and became the provisional president of the newly founded Republic of China in 1912. Feng followed Yuan into the new government and was honored for his contribution to the Xinhai Revolution, even though he actually took an active part in suppressing it.


Feng broke with Yuan Shikai when he later attempted to make himself emperor. Yuan Shikai made Feng a duke, but Feng declined. Yuan then sent an admiral to assassinate Feng but the admiral was himself murdered. Feng then moved to Nanjing, where he joined the National Protection War. His name was prominently missing from the list of proposed successors in Yuan's will.

Feng then served as vice president under Li Yuanhong. During the occupation of Beijing by Zhang Xun, Feng served as acting president, a position he kept when Li formally resigned.

He was sworn in as president of the Republic of China on August 1, 1917, but his constitutionality was challenged as the National Assembly was not reconvened to recognize it.

On August 14 China entered World War I on the side of the Allies after growing evidence of the German Empire's support for Zhang's coup was uncovered, as well as intense lobbying by Premier Duan Qirui. He sent about 135,000 men in labor battalions to the Western Front, Mesopotamia and German East Africa. Troops were sent into Russia to assist the Allied intervention in Russia's civil war. Sun Yat-sen set up a rival government in Guangzhou during September 1917 and also declared war later that month in a failed attempt to get international recognition. Feng wanted to peacefully resolve the north-south conflict, which led to Duan resigning in protest. Due to pressure from the Anhui clique, he brought Duan back into the premiership. Feng finished the five-year term started by Yuan in 1913 on October 10, 1918, and died in Beijing of illness.

He was given a state funeral and buried in his native Hejian county of Cangzhou, Hebei. Half a century later his tomb was desecrated during the Cultural Revolution.


  • 馮高鳴; Edward Feng: Traditional Chinese Medicine Licensure Trainer; Feng Chi-Shan's first son, and Feng Guozhang's grandson.
  • 馮道復; Peter Feng: politics professor; Edward Feng's son, Feng Chi-Shan's first grandson; and Feng Guozhang's great grandson.
  • 馮道行; Dao-Shing Feng: IT engineer; Edward Feng's son, Feng Chi-Shan's grandson; and Feng Guozhang's great grandson.
  • 馮道芬; Karena Apple Feng: political consultant; Edward Feng's daughter, Feng Chi-Shan's first granddaughter; and Feng Guozhang's great granddaughter.


  • 馮起山; Chi-Shan Feng: Shanghai-British commissioner of police, chief inspector, Feng Guozhang's son-in-law.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gray, Jack (2002). Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1800s to 2000. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-19-870069-2.
  2. ^ a b c Gray, p. 169.


Political offices
Preceded by President of the Republic of China
Succeeded by