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Chinese regional military rulers of the first half of the 20th century. Following the death of Yuan Shikai in 1916, China was divided among many local rulers who derived their power from control of personal armies. In origin, the warlords were mostly former soldiers of the imperial and republican armies, bandits, or local officials. They depended on revenue from towns and agricultural areas in their own spheres of influence to feed the well‐equipped troops with which they sought to establish their primacy over local rivals. The most successful warlords generally controlled easily defended areas and the largest of the many wars between rival cliques witnessed the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Chiang Kai‐shek's Nanjing government (1928–37) re‐established central authority over most warlord areas, but military rulers persisted in the far west of China into the 1940s.

Subjects: World History.

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