Chinese reunification (1928), better known in Chinese history as the Northeast Flag Replacement (traditional Chinese: 東北易幟; simplified Chinese: 东北易帜; pinyin: Dōngběi Yìzhì), is a historical term that refers to Zhang Xueliang's announcement on December 29, 1928 on replacing all banners of the Beiyang Government in Manchuria with the flag of the Nationalist Government, thus nominally uniting China under one state.
In April 1928, Chiang Kai-shek was reinstated as commander of the National Revolutionary Army, the position he previously resigned to take responsibility for splitting the KMT during the First Northern Expedition. He proceeded with the Second Northern Expedition and was approaching Beijing near the end of May. The Beiyang Government in Beijing was forced to dissolve as a result, in which Zhang Zuolin abandoned Beijing to return to Manchuria, and was assassinated in the Huanggutun by the Japanese Kwantung Army. Manchuria remained held by the Fengtian clique however, still hanging the banner of the Beiyang Government. The ultimate objective of the Northern Expedition was not fully accomplished.
Immediately after the death of Zhang Zuolin, Zhang Xueliang returned to Shenyang to succeed his father's position. On July 1, Zhang Xueliang announced an armistice with the National Revolutionary Army and proclaimed that he would not interfere with the re-unification. The Japanese were dissatisfied with the move and demanded Zhang carry out the independence of Manchuria. Zhang Xueliang denied the Japanese demand and proceeded on with unification matters. On July 3, Chiang Kai-shek arrived in Beijing and met the representative from the Fengtian clique to discuss a peaceful settlement. This negotiation reflected the scramble between the United States and Japan on her sphere of influence in China because the United States supported Chiang Kai-shek unifying Manchuria. With the pressure from the United States and Britain, Japan was diplomatically isolated on this issue. On December 29, Zhang Xueliang announced the replacement of all flags in Manchuria and accepted the jurisdiction of the Nationalist Government. Two days later, the Nationalist Government appointed Zhang as the commander of the Northeast Army. China was symbolically reunified at this point.
- Republic of China historical annal: 1928 under July 1, section A.
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