As we have seen in the preceding chapter, the degree of cohesion in the tuchüns' organizations diminished with their efforts to expand their power, and, in time, these organizations lost the quality of a unified command and became what can better be termed confederations, or alliances, of leaders who recognized one man as the principal figure in the alliance. Thus, in the Kuominchün, when Feng granted greater powers of command to Sun Yüeh and Hu Ching-i, these leaders assumed an increased degree of independence. No longer was the decision-making clearly located with Feng and his staff, but rather the decisions of the Kuominchün depended upon the complex interplay of forces under the command of the separate leaders. In fact, the Kuominchün had taken on the character of an alliance.
Politics of the warlord period was not the politics of intergroup relationships but rather that of an infinitely complex web of personal relationships. Some relationships were of a pure superior-subordinate nature and others were of unqualified hostility or amity; most relationships, however, were far more mixed, and questions of superiority and inferiority, of amity and enmity, were blended. The structure of the principal tuchün organizations did not have clearly defined boundaries.
The difficulty of distinguishing between a single structure of authority under a leader and an alliance of tuchüns, goes far in indicating the nature of the alliances that prevailed during the period. Just as the tuchün, in his efforts to establish a strong organization, had to depend upon such factors as personal loyalty, long association, expectation of personal reward and favor, and the astute balancing of his subordinates, so, in the nation, the relations of the tuchüns to each other also rested upon a complex web of personal sentiment and calculations of expectations.
The tradition of basing alliances upon personal relations had its origins in the Peiyang Army and the subsequent division into the Anfu