The “Warlord Officers”: A Collective Biography of the Anguojun Officers during the Republican Period and Beyond

Chi Man Kwong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This article argues that there existed a group of modern professional officers in the warlord armies during the Republican period (1912-1949); they were caught in the middle of a political situation that distorted their career development, disrupted their intellectual growth, and undermined their group cohesion. Using the prosopographical approach and drawing on theories of military culture and professionalism, this article looks at the lives and careers of the middle and high-ranking officers of the National Pacification Army (Anguojun), as they formed the backbone of the warlord armies that controlled a substantial part of China before the Northern Expedition (1926-1928) and that played an important role in the wars in China from the 1910s to 1949. Some of these officers, despite their background, rose to high rank in the Nationalist and Communist armies; the less fortunate ones, however, were purged after 1949 by the new Communist government. It elaborates how political strife affected the lives of the professionally trained officers in China, discusses the development of modern military education in China, and sheds lights on the self-understanding of these officers, their relationship to the state and society, and the sources of their cohesion as a group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-158
Number of pages44
JournalJournal of Chinese Military History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • modernization
  • officers
  • prosopography
  • warlord


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