In China, an independent military commander in the early 20th century. Warlords, supported by provincial military interests or foreign powers, ruled various parts of China following the death of Yuan Shikai, first president of the Republic of China. In southeastern China Sun Yat-sen and the Nationalist Party gained the backing of a warlord based in Guangzhou (Canton). In northern China three leading warlords emerged: Zhang Zuolin, a Japanese-backed bandit in Manchuria; Wu Peifu, a traditionally educated officer in central China; and Feng Yuxiang, who seized Beijing in 1924. The Nationalist Party consolidated its control in the south, and its forces swept northward, reuniting the country in 1928. Numerous local warlords continued to exert de facto power over their own domains until the Japanese invasion during what became World War II. See also Northern Expedition.
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