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Yüan Shih-kai (b. 1859; d. 1916) was the most highly regarded general during the last days of the Qing Dynasty. Following the 1911 revolution that would signal the end of dynastic China he was called upon to squash the revolt. Yüan decided to negotiate instead.

The 15 provinces that suceeded as well as the officers that led the initial army coup were eager to negotiate, fearful of foreign intervention (See: Boxer Rebellion). Eventually, Yüan's agreement with the revolutionaries was only to his advantage. He would become the president of the new Chinese republic with the Emperor, Pu Yi abdicating soon (February 1912).

The decision to install Yüan as president would prove disasterous. Unwilling to share power, or lose it. He had Song Jiaoren, a key Nationalist organizer assassinated following Parlimentary elections where the Nationalist won a majority. His dictorial methods became obvious when 6 provinces attempted to leave the new republic only to be squashed by Yüan's military might as he had the full backing of the former Qing army.

Sun Yat-Sen was effectively helpless and fled to Japan. Even more outragous was that in late 1915, Yüan planed to make himself emperor on the first of the following year. Luckly, Yüan died in June 1916.

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