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This interviewee in a documentary claims that Chinese Warlords in the Warlord Era were supported by foreign powers. I assumed from this that the interviewee meant big ex-colonial countries, like England or France. Or local countries like Russia. However, I cannot find any evidence to support this statement.

Doing various searches in multiple places, I have found no mention to this. None especially in the sources listed below. Was this man mistaken? Or Were the Chinese Warlords backed by other countries?

  • Perhaps by "supported" they just meant they acquired arms from abroad? I know the Chinese invented the gun, but by the early 20th Century westerners made the best ones, and I'd think in a very poor country having better weaponry could make a huge difference. The movie High Road to China depicted this a bit at the end (although that bit could easily have been Eurocentric twaddle). – T.E.D. Sep 8 '16 at 20:59
  • @T.E.D. I believe you're probably right. But what's odd is that I can find no record of anything like that either! Understandably, records would be scarce, but nothing at all? It's a shame. – BritishFerret Sep 9 '16 at 12:21
  • Well, Zhang Zuolin in Manchuria was helped by the Japanese. Maybe you can find more on him. There's more on this in the article about his assassination by Japanese extremists. The latter article also mentions American and European support for the Zhili Clique, and Russian support for the Kuomintang. – AlaskaRon Sep 9 '16 at 18:42
  • @BritishFerret: the Wikipedia article you linked to mentions that "warlords spent generously on arms from the West and Japan to fight their conflicts," and even goes on the mention that "the educational level of their soldiers was so low that most could not operate or service the machine guns or artillery purchased from aboard." – Peter Erwin Sep 10 '16 at 12:05
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Zhang Zuolin in Manchuria was helped by the Japanese. Maybe you can find more on him. There's more on this in the article about his assassination by Japanese extremists* (or, rather, somewhat rogue members of the Japanese military). The latter article also mentions American and European support for the Zhili Clique, and Soviet support for the Kuomintang.

Zhang Zuolin apparently had fought along with the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war, and also sparred with the Russians over Mongolia.

Here's some more information about the relationship between the Japanese government and Zhang Zuolin.

*- Note... the Japanese extremists committed the assassination, they didn't write the article. :)

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