Nowadays, the Northern Expedition is viewed favorably by Chinese because it ended a period of disorder and started the formation of an effective central government. However it did not solve the warlord problem completely, as many warlords still had large armies that served their own needs.
The irony is that when the old warlords such as Wu and Sun were terminated, new warlords such as Li Zongren and his New Guangxi Clique became established. In addition, Yan Xishan's Shanxi clique, Feng Yuxiang and his Northwestern or Guominjun Clique, Zhang Xueliang of the Northeastern or Fengtian Clique remained.
Local provincial warlords who seized or enhanced their power included Tang Shengzhi in Hunan, Chiang Kuang-Nai in Fujian, Sheng Shicai of Xinjiang, Long Yun of Yunnan, Wang Jialie of Guizhou, Liu Xiang and Liu Wenhui of the Sichuan Clique, Han Fuqu of Shandong, Bie Tingfang (别廷芳) of Henan, the Ma Clique of Ma Bufang and his family in Qinghai, Ma Hongkui in Ningxia, and Ma Zhongyin in Gansu, Chen Jitang and his Cantonese Clique, Lu Diping (鲁涤平) of Jiangxi and Jing Yuexiu (井岳秀) of Shaanxi.
The wars between these new warlords claimed more lives than ever during the 1930's. This would prove to be a major problem for the KMT all the way through World War II and the following civil war.
Chiang did get the greatest benefit from the expedition, however, for the victory achieved his personal goal of becoming paramount leader. Furthermore, Chiang made the military command superior to KMT party leadership, which resulted in his dictatorship later.
Significantly, even before the objectives of the Northern Expedition had been achieved, cooperation between KMT and CPC broke down. In the April 12 Incident in the summer of 1927, CPC members and parts of the KMT political left-wing broke their ties with Chiang. But with the military now firmly in Chiang's grasp, these proved no match for him, and all CPC members of the KMT were expelled. This would also prove to be the b...