WI: Song Jiaoren Doesn't Get Shot


China's first ever elections were held in January 1913 and won by the Kuomintang led by the 30 year old Song Jiaoren. In March, Song was assassinated at a train station in Shanghai by a gunmen almost certainly hired by Provisional President Yuan Shikai who then used it as a pretext to create a dictatorship. When he died in 1916, China devolved into the "warlord period" until the nation was reunited by Chiang Kai Shek, but soon the country was embroiled in a civil war from the communists and then by invasion from Japan. So what if the shot missed? Does anything change or does China just start its warlord period 3 years early?
Your best bet is to have Yuan Shikai die a few years early and hope the other Beiyang Army commanders stay loyal to the Republic of China. If they stay loyal, the warlord era is avoided and China is significantly stronger by the early 30s. If the Japanese still try to take Manchuria, they will encounter much more determined Chinese opposition and be at war with China after an alternate Mukden Incident. Song obviously remains very important.


Your best bet is to have Yuan Shikai die a few years early and hope the other Beiyang Army commanders stay loyal to the Republic of China. If they stay loyal, the warlord era is avoided and China is significantly stronger by the early 30s. If the Japanese still try to take Manchuria, they will encounter much more determined Chinese opposition and be at war with China after an alternate Mukden Incident. Song obviously remains very important.
If Yuan Shikai dies, will the revolution be even possible?
I'll reproduce (with a few changes) a couple of old soc.history.what-if posts of mine:

Probably the freest national elections in Chinese history were the first
parliamentary elections of the Chinese Republic in the winter of 1912-13.
True, only property-holding literate males could vote. But "Despite the
restrictions that limited the vote, these elections truly did constitute a
national consultation. More than three hundred political parties and
organizations took part in it. There were 40 million registered electors,
twenty times as many as for the elections to the provincial assemblies in
1909. The political debate was open and free and was recorded by the
press. In many respects, this poll seems to have been more democratic and
more meaningful than any that followed." Marie-Claire Bergere, *Sun Yat-
sen* (translated from the French by Janet Lloyd), Stanford University
Press, 1998, p. 226.

The clear winner of the elections was the Guomindang, a party organized by
Song Jiaoren (Sung Chiao-jen) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_Jiaoren in
August 1912 out of Sun Yat-sen's old Revolutionary Alliance and some minor
parties. Song felt that only a party with a powerful, united majority in
Parliament could check the ambitions of Yuan Shikai. The elections seemed
to give him what he wanted: 269 GMD deputies out of a total of 423.
Given the number of parties, and given how recently the GMD had been
organized, this was a remarkable triumph, and Song deserves credit for it.
Song kept the first two of Sun's "three principles of the people"--
nationalism and democracy--but dropped the third, the "people's
livelihood," which sounded too much like socialism to the merchants and
gentry. (He also dropped another "radical" idea of Sun--equality of the
sexes.) Song not only used the Guomindang to rally the local elites, but
campaigned tirelessly himself, in his own province of Hunan and elsewhere.
He attacked the policies of Yuan Shikai, whom he said was incapable either
of solving China's financial problems or of preventing Russia from
detaching Outer Mongolia from China. "He argued for a system of
ministerial responsibility, for the election of provincial governors, and
for regional autonomy. His message was well received by the elites, whose
political awareness was rooted in their commitment to community
interests." Bergere, p. 227.

To Song Jiaoren's demand for an all-GMD cabinet led by Song (which would
in effect restrict Yuan Shikai to a figurehead role), Yuan gave his answer
on March 19 1913: assassins sent by Yuan shot and killed Song at the
Shanghai railroad station. (At least it seems generally assumed that Yuan
was behind the assassination: the assassins were linked to his premier.
It is just barely possible, however, that Yuan himself did not want Song
killed.) Yuan was soon to establish a dictatorship and to attempt
unsuccessfully to restore the monarchy. His death in 1916 was followed by
an era when China was torn between rival warlords, with no real central

What is a plausible POD for Song not being killed? For Yuan to accept a
parliamentary democracy that would reduce him to figurehead status would
require a personality transplant for this veteran of the Qing court. The
only way I can see for Song to avoid death is for someone to tip him off
about the assassination plot and for him to flee abroad (where he would
soon be joined by other GMD refugees from Yuan's dictatorship).

Would there be a rivalry between Song and Sun for leadership of the GMD?
There were some interesting differences between these two leaders of the
old Revolutionary Alliance. Some of Sun's followers thought that Song's
dropping of Sun's more "radical" ideas in 1912-13 was a sell-out--though
Sun himself did not object at the time. Also, there was a difference in
the two men's attitudes toward Japan. Throughout this life, Sun retained
an admiration of Japan, though on occasion he would admit it was treating
China even worse than the "white" powers were doing. At the very least,
Sun showed a willingness to make startling concessions to the Japanese for
opportunist reasons--e.g., to get their support against Yuan Shikai. For
example, in January 1914, "Sun Yat-sen gave his blessing to Chen Qimei's
expedition to Manchuria. Not much is known of this expedition, but the
plan probably involved having the revolutionaries make contact with Prince
Su's monarchists and help establish the separatist kingdom of Manchuria
that some Japanese leaders already had in mind. It is known that, unlike
Song Jiaoren and a number of other revolutionary leaders, Sun had never
evinced any passionate nationalism with regard to these regions of the
northeast. Perhaps that was because they had formally been the territory
of barbarian tribes, only annexed to China at the beginning of the
twentieth century. Sun considered that these territories were 'not all of
China,' if they were lost, 'the true China,' the China of the Han, would
still remain." Bergere, pp. 265-66.

Also in 1914, appealing for Japanese aid, Sun offered Japan a quasi-
monopoly of the Chinese market, explaining that this vast market and
China's vast natural resources would support Japan's prosperity as India's
resources had in the nineteenth century supported the expansion of Great
Britain--and Japan would even be spared "the trouble and expense of
stationing troops!" Bergere, pp. 262-3.
http://books.google.com/books?id=vh7M1u4IGFkC&pg=PA263 In 1915 he was
willing to offer Japan even more than it had sought in the Twenty-One
Demands, in an attempt to outbid Yuan for Japanese support. Finally,
there was Sun's famous "pan-Asianism" speech in Kobe in November, 1924. [1]

(As one might expect, Wang Jingwei, when he became Japan's puppet
"president" of China, loved to cite Sun's pro-Japanese writings as
justifications of his course. (Wang had an anthology of Sun's writings on
Japan published under the title *China and Japan: Natural Friends--
Unnatural Enemies* [Shanghai 1941].)

There is reason to think Song would have been considerably more skeptical
of Japan (I already noted that he did not share Sun's attitude toward

"Neither the Zhejiang nor the Hunan [as noted, Song was from Hunan--DT]
liked the slogan 'same culture, same race'...which Sun Yat-sen and Hu
Hanmin had borrowed from the Japanese pan-Asian movement. In the summer
of 1907, Zhang Binglin was elected president of the Alliance of Oppressed
Nations of East Asia...which assembled in Tokyo emigres from India, Burma,
Indochina, the Philippines, and Korea but excluded the Japanese, who were
regarded as imperialists. Song Jiaoren passionately denounced Japanese
imperialism and the pan-Asian arguments it hid behind: 'Some powers
[Japan], however, utilizing geographical and racial affinity intend to
swallow up China and, day after day, seek for an opportunity to deceive
us...The arch-enemy of our country--past, present, and future--is Japan,'
he wrote in his paper, *People's Stand* (*Minlibao*) on February 8,
1911." Bergere, p. 146.

Whatever the relations between Song Jiaoren and Sun Yat-sen will be, one
thing is certain--barring an assassination or an unlikely disease or
accident, Song, who was born in 1882, should outlive Sun by many years.
Following Sun's death in 1925, Song would seem a natural candidate for
leadership of the GMD. But it should be remembered that in OTL Chiang
Kai-shek prevailed over several people who could more plausibly claim in
1925 to be Sun's successor than Chiang could--e.g., Wang Jingwei
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Jingwei Liao Zhongkai
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liao_Zhongkai and Hu Hanmin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hu_Hanmin --and I certainly wouldn't rule out
his prevailing over Song as well...

[1] The speech can be found at
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen's_speech_on_Pan-Asianism In
fairness to Sun, it should be noted that (1) The speech is not quite as
unequivocally pro-Japanese as people like Wang Jingwei later maintained.
It ends by asserting that "the question remains whether Japan will be the
hawk of the Western civilization of the rule of Might, or the tower of
strength of the Orient. This is the choice which lies before the people of
Japan." In other words, Sun did not regard it as settled that Japan would
take the side of Right against Might. (2) The speech may have been an
attempt by Sun to break out of what seemed like a one-sided dependence of
the GMD on Soviet Russia. Even so, Sun in this speech praises Russia for
breaking with the West and opposing the "oppression of the majority by the
minority." It is doubtful that he would have approved of Japan's
vehemently anti-Soviet policies of the 1930's or would have considered
Japan's ruthless exploitation of China and other Asian countries to be
true "pan-Asianism."


In a later post, I noted that

According to Bergere (*Sun Yat-sen*, pp. 143-46) the Revolutionary
Alliance was divided into three groups:

(1) Those from Hunan (including Huang Xing and Song Jiaoren) and nearby
Hubei. "These militants, from inland provinces that until the end of the
nineteenth century had remained cut off from all foreign influences,
manifested a touchy nationalism, great distrust of Westerners, and an
abidingly strong attachment to tradition, and they maintained close ties
with the gentry from whom most of them were descended."

(2) The Zhejiang-Anhui group also had nationalist and antiforeigner
tendencies combined with social and cultural conservatism. "The Hunan-
Hubei and the Zhejiang-Anhui groups both came from the Yangzi valley and
were linked by a common strong attachment to tradition and by their
collaboration in the abortive plan for an uprising in Changsha in 1904.
Both geographically and culturally they were closer to each other than to
the third group in the Alliance, the people from the province of

(3) "The group of Cantonese...constituted Sun Yat-sen's power base in the
Alliance...[C]oming as they did from a province long open to the outside
world and international relations, or in some cases having been born into
emigre communities, they were distinguished by their cosmopolitanism,
their interest in the West, and their desire to cooperate with it...The
various groups held divergent views on the matter of tradition (more
respected by the Yangzi revolutionaries than by those of Guangdong) and
on foreigners: whereas the Cantonese were ready to ask for their
financial, political, or even military help, the other groups in the
Alliance were far more reluctant to do so."

So it seems that Song Jiaoren's group was nationalist vis-a-vis not only
the Japanese but foreigners in general. And even if Song favors an
alliance with the Soviet Union (given his hostility to the West and to
Japan, there may not be much choice) he is going to be very
suspicious of Chinese Communists--very likely more so than Sun was.