Yüan Shih-kai (yüänˈ shēˈ-kĪˈ) [key], 1859–1916, president of China (1912–16). From 1885 to 1894 he was the Chinese resident in Korea, then under Chinese suzerainty. He supported the dowager empress, Tz'u Hsi, against the reform movement (1898) of Emperor Kuang Hsü, and she rewarded him with the vice regency of Zhili (now Hebei). As governor he suppressed the Boxer Uprising, winning foreign favor, which enabled him to build the strongest military force in China. During the revolution of 1911, he procured a truce in which Emperor Hsüan T'ung (Pu Yi) abdicated on Feb. 12, 1912, and Sun Yat-sen, president of the provisional government, resigned in Yüan's favor as President of a Republic. Opposition to Yüan's dictatorial methods soon developed. In 1914 he dissolved the parliament and on Jan. 1, 1916, he assumed the title of emperor. A rebellion in Yunnan forced him almost immediately to restore the Republic. He died in June.
See biographies by J. Ch'en (2d ed. 1972) and E. P. Young (1976).