The Perils of Advising the Empire: Yuan Shikai and Frank Goodnow

A Chinese president, three years into his term, turns back the clock on political liberalization. Convinced that the country, beset by domestic problems and foreign threats, is in need of a strong leader, he surrounds himself with the trappings of past rulers and tightens his grip on power. While many are wary of the political ambitions of this larger-than-life figure, there are more than a few pundits—both inside China and out—who agree with his fundamental position: that the timing is not yet right, nor are the Chinese people ready, for greater political freedoms.

A century ago this month, Yuan Shikai, President of the Republic of China, ended a three-year-old experiment in republican government by announcing his decision to take the throne and rule as emperor.