Some Peculiarities & Curious Aspects of Yuan Shikai’s Sui Generis Restoration (袁世凱稱帝案之若干特點)

30 Pages Posted: 18 May 2010

Date Written: February 1, 2010


This article is not centred on the path that led to Yuan Shikai’s attempt to establish a new dynasty in the then four-year old Republic of China. Yuan engaged in a climb to power, first as the last strong man of the moribund Qing Government, then as the first real president of the Republic of China: he manoeuvred to get rid of annoying opponents, to mould and domesticate the Constitution and Laws, and to forge a net of entities aimed at reviving, nurturing and properly canalizing the monarchic sentiments in the recently Emperor-orphaned population.

Nor does this piece provide a minute account of the number of curiosities and old & ‘new’ traditions that mirrored Yuan and his supporters’ fondness for their glorious monarchical enterprise and its concretization in a set of details, procedures and even oddities.

This article rather focuses on three plain but somehow tricky questions: 1. Was Yuan Shikai a legitimate Emperor of China? 2. How long for exactly did Yuan, legitimately or not, hold the throne? 3. What kind of régime was - or/and was meant to be - Yuan’s?

I have tried to put some order in the decades-long academic debate over Yuan’s tenure as monarch, also arguing that a reformed (or at least modified) monarchy in late 1910s’ China (perhaps an “Empire of China with Western Characteristics” or a “Constitutional Monarchy with Chinese Characteristics”) could have been a desirable outcome.

Note: Downloadable document is in Chinese.

Keywords: Hong Xian Era, Yuan Shikai, Restoration, Yang Du, Ariga Nagao, F.J. Goodnow

Suggested Citation

Delmestro, Manuel E., Some Peculiarities & Curious Aspects of Yuan Shikai’s Sui Generis Restoration (袁世凱稱帝案之若干特點) (February 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Manuel E. Delmestro (Contact Author)

Fu Jen University ( email )


NTU ( email )

1 Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road
Taipei 106, 106

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