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Chinese History - Republican Period Government, Administration, and Law

Periods of Chinese History
From 1912 to 1936 the policital system of the Republic of China underwent a change from a republic with real elections (at least nominally) to the dictatorship of one party.
The provisional constitution of Nanjing with the temporary government (Nanjing linshi zhengzfu 南京臨時政府) that was made in 1912 stressed the role of the President (da zongtong 大總統) who was the prominent person of the administration. The administration system hence copied the presidential democracy of the United States. The President was elected by the Legislation Court (canyiyuan 參議院), an assembly of the military governors of the provinces (gesheng dudufu daibiaohui 各省都督府代表會), held his post for five years and could only once being reelected, normally succeeded by the Vice President (fu zongtong 副總統). His tasks were commanding the army, proclaiming martial war, declaring war to other nations, sanctifying and signing international treaties, sending and receiving ambassadors, appointing the highest officials, promulgating laws, etc. The President had to make use of the Legislation Court for political assistance and in questions of legislation. He had the right to make use of advisors (guwen 顧問) outside the normal administrative structures. After the proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic (Zhonghua minguo yuefa 中華民國約法) in 1914 his position was changed from the head of the cabinet (neige 內閣 or guowuyuan 國務院) to a direct controller of the executive. He was elected by the National Council (canzhengyuan 參政院) and was allowed to make use of the state seal (guoxi 國璽) that was kept in a golden case - a relic of the imperial era. This presidential system was repudiated after the death of Yuan Shikai 袁世凱 in 1916, and a cabinet system with a Prime Minister (zongli 總理, guowu zongli 國務總理) was introduced. Although the office of the President was designed to be the pillar of the administration, he was during the warlord period often controled by military potentates that quasi clockwise took over the offices of President and of Prime Minister.
The legislative power of the early Republican state was the Legislation Court whose members came from the provinces. The executive power consisted of nine ministries (bu 部) for National Politics (neiwubu 內務部), Foreign Affairs (waijiaobu 外交部), the Army (lujunbu 陸軍部), the Navy (haijunbu 海軍部), Finance (caizhengbu 財政部), Law (sifabu 司法部), Education (jiaoyubu 教育部), Traffic (jiaotongbu 交通部), and Industry (shiyebu 實業部). There existed also some military institutions like the Advisory Ministry (canmoubu 參謀部), further bureaus (ju 局) for law drafting, national currency and print products, bulletins, personnel, investigation, and so on. Together with Yuan Shikai, the administration organs of the central government moved from Nanjing to Beijing.
During the period of the warlords (Beiyang 北洋 era) the Cabinet (neige 內閣) was headed by the Prime Minister (zongli 總理). The highest organ of the legislation was the National Assembly (guohui 國會) that was first created in 1913 and whose members came from the Legislation Court (canyiyuan 參議院) and the House of Representatives (zhongyiyuan 眾議院) with 870 members. The members of the Legislation Court were elected in two steps. In 1914 Yuan Shikai dissolved the two courts and installed his own administration apparatus with the Participation Court (canzhengyuan 參政院), the Political Conference (zhengzhi huiyi 政治會議), and so on. In 1917 again, the National Assembly was dissolved by president Li Yuanhong 黎元洪, Duan Qirui 段祺瑞 reestablished a third "New" National Assembly (xin guohui 新國會 or Anfu guohui 安福國會 - dominated by Duan's military Anhui Clique). The last period of the National Assembly was from 1922 until 1924.
The administrative system of the Republic of China was patterned like Western style republics with a president and his government as executive force, a parliament as legislative force, and an independant third power. In the Republic of China, especially after the foundation of the Nanjing government in 1928 the executive was organized in an executive court (xingzhengyuan 行政院), the legislative was in the hands of the legislative court (lifayuan 立法院), and the law was administered by the judicial court (sifayuan 司法院). Additionally, there were two courts in this five court system that were inherited from the imperial administration structure, especially the fifth of them, the censorial court (jianchayuan 監察院); the fourth court was the audit court (kaoshiyuan 考試院).
The executive court was the actual government of the one-party state with the National Party (Kuomintang 國民黨) as ruling party. It consisted of a court head and nine ministries (bu 部) for national politics (neizhengbu 內政部), foreign affairs (waijiaobu 外交部), war (junzhengbu 軍政部), navy (haijunbu 海軍部), finance (caizhengbu 財政部), industry (shiyebu 實業部), education (jiaoyubu 教育部), traffic (jiaotongbu 交通部), and railways (tiedaobu 鐵道部). Further there was a health department (weishengshu 衛生署) and two commissions for Tibetian and Mongolian (Zang Meng weiyuanhui 藏蒙委員會), and for Chinese Overseas affairs (Qiaowu weiyuanhui 僑務委員會).
The legislative court was not a parliament in the modern sense, because the members were chosen from the central comittee of the Kuomintang. There existed several standing commissions for law, foreign affairs, finance, economy, and military affairs. The audit court was established in 1930, and its highest members were chosen by the central comittee of the Kuomintang. 國民黨中央執行委員會 central executive committee
The censorial court had to control the offials of the government in various layers and should limit the power of other governmental institutions. It was installed 1931 and consisted of a head gremium that was chosen by the central comittee of the Kuomintang, and the members were not allowed to occupy other posts.
The regional administration was organized in provinces (sheng 省) - a unit inherited from the Yuan 元, Ming 明 and Qing 清 epochs. Most of them were identical to the modern provinces, except the north where Hebei is still known as Zhili 直隸 and the capital Beijing administered as Capital Prececture (Jingzhaofu 京兆府) in the first decade of the Republic. The modern Liaoning was still separated as Fengtian 奉天 (east) and Jehol (Rehe 熱河; west), and it stretches more to the north than today. Jilin is known in the West with its Japanese name Kirin. Modern Inner Mongolia was still administered in the provinces Suiyuan 綏遠 (west) and Chahar 察哈爾 (east). Jehol, Chahar, Suihe, and Eastern Tibet (Chuanbian 川邊 or Xikang 西康) were specially administered zones (tebie xingzhengqu 特別行政區). Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Tibet were associated territories with large independance. Taiwan was occupied by Japan since 1896 when the treaty of Shimonoseki was concluded. The first provisional capital was Nanjing, shifted to Beijing by Yuan Shikai where it was used as center of the northern warlords (Beiyang 北洋) and as nominal central government of China (zhongyang zhengfu 中央政府). The center of Sun Wen's military government was Guangzhou 廣州 (Canton), and after the northern campaign 1926-28 Jiang Jieshi shifted the capital to Nanjing again, although there were separate governments in Wuhan 武漢/Hubei and Shanghai 上海 in 1927. During the war with Japan the capital was moved from Nanjing to Wuhan 武漢, later to Chongqing 重慶/Sichuan. Below the level of province, there existed cities (shi 市) and counties (xian 縣).

2000 ff. © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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