THE WARLORDS AND CABINET
Although the leading tuchüns never indicated that they considered themselves bound by the formal-legal structure of the Peking government, the very existence of such a government conditioned their behavior. As has been seen, they were on most occasions careful to show deference to the idea of Republican government, though not necessarily to particular officeholders. As long as control over and influence in the Peking government assisted the military leaders in achieving their desired goals, they were concerned with the composition of the political and bureaucratic organs of the national government. For the tuchüns, the key to control over the bureaucracy lay in the cabinet, and this in turn meant that the appointment of cabinet ministers was of special interest to them. Throughout the period, all cabinets had either the overt support or the tacit approval of the leading tuchüns of the moment.
In this sense, the development of cabinet government was at the mercy of the tuchüns and their policies. The composition of the cabinets and the role which they could assume depended upon the balance of power among the warlords. Although the need for the maintenance of formal cabinets served as an element in the balancing process and, as such, limited the freedom of choice of the power-holders, the cabinets were, for the most part, products of the interplay of forces of the total power complex. Thus, the nature of the balance of power among the tuchüns and the forms it assumed were reflected in the organization and activities of the cabinets.
Although unquestionably the phenomenon of warlordism impeded the effectiveness of civilian government, it is still important in the larger perspective of the modernization process of China to ask what kinds of civilian leaders the warlords tended to support. Did warlord politics generally support more conservative or traditional men who belonged mainly to the earlier Confucian-bureaucratic tradition? Or was the effect of the warlords one of encouraging the recognition of technical skills
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Publication information: Book title: Warlord Politics:Conflict and Coalition in the Modernization of Republican China. Contributors: Lucian W. Pye - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1971. Page number: 132.
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