Empire of China (1915-1916)
Get Empire of China 1915%E2%80%931916 essential facts below. View Videos or join the Empire of China 1915%E2%80%931916 discussion. Add Empire of China 1915%E2%80%931916 to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Empire of China 1915%E2%80%931916
Empire of China

Zh?nghuá Dìguó
Anthem: Zh?ngguó xióng lì y?zhòuji?n

"China Heroically Stands in the Universe"
Republic of China (orthographic projection, historical).svg
39°54?N 116°23?E / 39.900°N 116.383°E / 39.900; 116.383Coordinates: 39°54?N 116°23?E / 39.900°N 116.383°E / 39.900; 116.383
Common languagesChinese
Heaven worship
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
o 1915-1916
Hongxian Emperor
Prime Minister 
o 1915-1916
Lou Tseng-Tsiang
Historical eraWorld War I
o Formed
12 December 1915
25 December 1915
o Abolition of the Empire
22 March 1916
o Death of Yuan Shikai
6 June 1916
CurrencyChinese Yuan
ISO 3166 codeCN
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Empire of China
Traditional Chinese?
Simplified Chinese?
PostalChunghwa Tikuo
Literal meaningChinese Emperor Nation

The Empire of China was a short-lived attempt by statesman and general Yuan Shikai from late 1915 to early 1916 to reinstate monarchy in China, with himself as the Hongxian Emperor (?; Hóngxiàn Huángdì). The attempt was ultimately a failure; it set back the Chinese republican cause by many years and fractured China into a period of conflict between various local warlords.

Preparations for formation

The Hongxian Emperor on his coronation ceremony

After Yuan Shikai was installed as the second Provisional Great President of the Republic of China, he took various steps to consolidate his power and remove opposition leaders from office. To secure his own power he collaborated with various European powers as well as Japan. Around August 1915, he instructed Yang Du () et al. to canvass support for a return of a monarchy. On 11 December 1915, an assembly unanimously elected him as Emperor. Yuan ceremonially declined, but "relented" and immediately agreed when the National Assembly petitioned again that day.[1] On 12 December, Yuan, supported by his son Yuan Keding, declared the Empire of China with himself as the "Great Emperor of the Chinese Empire" (simplified Chinese: ?; traditional Chinese: ?; pinyin: Zh?nghuá Dìguó Dà Huángdì), taking the era name Hongxian (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Hóngxiàn, "Constitutional Abundance"). However, Yuan, now known as the Hongxian Emperor, delayed the accession rites until 1 January 1916. He had Manchurian clothes removed from culture and had Han Chinese clothes revived but had put some changes to it. He wore new Han clothes to attend a dress rehearsal. A dress rehearsal was sabotaged by his Korean concubine. Soon after, the Hongxian Emperor started handing out titles of peerage to his closest relatives and friends, as well as those whom he thought he could buy with titles.

The Aisin Gioro family of the Qing dynasty, then living in the Forbidden City, "approved" of Yuan's accession as emperor, and even proposed a "royal marriage" of Yuan's daughter to Puyi, the last Qing monarch.


Yuan Shikai as the Hongxian Emperor

The year 1916 was to be "Hongxian Year 1" (?) rather than "Republic Year 5" (?),[1] but the Hongxian Emperor was opposed by not only the revolutionaries, but far more importantly by his subordinate military commanders, who believed that Yuan's assumption of the monarchy would allow him to rule without depending on the support of the military.

Province after province rebelled after his inauguration, starting with Yunnan, led by the emperor's governor Cai E and general Tang Jiyao and Jiangxi, led by governor Li Liejun. The revolters formed the National Protection Army () and thus began the National Protection War. This was followed by other provinces declaring independence from the Empire. The emperor's Beiyang generals, whose soldiers had not received pay once from the imperial government, did not put up an aggressive campaign against the National Protection Army and the Beiyang Army suffered numerous defeats despite being better trained and equipped than the National Protection Army.

Seeing the Hongxian Emperor's weakness and unpopularity, foreign powers withdrew their support (but did not choose sides in the war). The Empire of Japan first threatened to invade, then committed to overthrowing the Hongxian Emperor and recognised both sides of the conflict to be "in a state of war" and allowed Japanese citizens to help the Republicans.[1] Faced with universal opposition, the emperor repeatedly delayed the accession rites to appease his foes. Funding for the ceremony was cut on 1 March. Yuan deliberated abandoning the monarchy with Liang Shiyi on 17 March and abandoned it on 22 March. The "Hongxian" year was abolished on 23 March and the Republic was restored.[2] Yuan reigned a total of 83 days.[1]

Empire of China ten-cash coin dated "Hongxian Year 1"

After Yuan's death on 6 June Vice President Li Yuanhong assumed the presidency, and appointed Beiyang general Duan Qirui as his Premier and restored the National Assembly and the provisional Constitution. However, the central authority of the Beijing government was significantly weakened and the demise of Yuan's Empire plunged China into a period of warlordism.

National symbols

Alternate flag of the Empire of China[3]

Although the name of the country in Chinese was changed to the "Empire of China" (and "Hongxian" for state matters), the Hongxian Emperor continued to use "Republic of China" as the English name.[1]

The Hongxian Emperor set up the Ritual Regulations Office (), which issued the new official anthem for the Republic of China "China heroically stands in the Universe" (?) in June 1915. Its lyrics were written by Yin Chang () and music by Wang Lu (). The lyrics were slightly modified in December 1915, with ? (Five Races Under One Union) replaced by ? (Shanrang, the ancient system of Chinese emperor relinquishing seats to others in Yao and Shun's era) to be used during the Hongxian Emperor's reign.

Chinese lyrics English translation


China heroically stands in the Universe,
Extends to the Eight Corners,
The glorious descendants from Kunlun Peak.
The rivers turn greatly, the mountains continuous.
Shanrang open up the era of Yao,
For millions of myriads of years.

Yao was a legendary Chinese ruler. The era of Yao and Shun (?) is a Four-character idiom which means times of peace and prosperity.

The national flag was changed from the original 5-stripe flag to one where the red stripe is a centered cross; however, a flag with the former red stripe as a saltire was the version commonly used.

The national emblem remained as the national emblem of the Republic of China (1913-1928), National emblem of Twelve Symbols of Sovereignty ().

List of people given peerage by the Hongxian Emperor

Yuan's court practice ritual ceremony.

Crown Prince ()

Prince of the First Rank Wuyi (? W?yì q?n wáng)

Dukes of the First Rank ( Y? d?ng g?ng)

Marquesses of the First Rank ( Y? d?ng hóu)

Counts of the First Rank ( Y? d?ng bó)

Viscounts of the First Rank ( Y? d?ng z?)

Barons of the First Rank ( Y? d?ng nán)

Baron of the Third Rank ( S?n d?ng nán)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Kuo T'ing-i et al. Historical Annals of the ROC (1911-1949). Vol 1, pp. 207-41.
  2. ^ Shan, Patrick Fuliang (2018). Yuan Shikai: A Reappraisal, The University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 9780774837781.
  3. ^ (Flags of China) (in Chinese)
  4. ^ Parker, Edward Harper (22 May 2018). "China, her history, diplomacy, and commerce, from the earliest times to the present day". N.Y. : Dutton – via Internet Archive.

External links

Preceded by
Republic of China
Empire of China
Succeeded by
Republic of China

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes