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Chinese Federation
830px-ChinFed flag svg

Anthem: March of the Volunteers

Motto: Tianxia

(All Under Heaven)


Luoyang (until dissolution)

Official Language



Chinese, Chin-Fed


Federal Socialist Republic

Head of State

Chairman of State

Head of Government

Premier of the State Council


National People's Congress


2,000,000,000 (Approximate)



The Chinese Federation was the world's singular communist superpower and one of the large supernations that control earth initially in the early 21st Century, the others being the Holy Britannian Empire and the European Union. The Federation ceased to exist in 2018, in which it was annexed into Britannia, with China itself becoming Area 22.


Twilight of the Qing Edit

The Chinese Federation's roots were laid with the decline and fall of the Qing dynasty, China's last Imperial dynasty, which ruled from 1644 to 1911 AD. Ruling for over two and a half centuries, the Qing presided over the greatest success and final decline of China's Imperial tradition. By the middle of the 19th century, China was culturally, technologically, and economically stagnant; yet utterly convinced of its superiority over all other civilizations. In 1839 AD, the true state of affairs would be violently revealed.

The issue in question was an attempt by the Qing government, under the Daoguang Emperor, to halt the import and sale of opium in China. Concerned over the social consequences of opium abuse, to say nothing of the outflow of precious silver to pay for it, the Emperor assigned the scholar and official Lin Zexu to oversee the suppression. Lin confiscated and destroyed all opium his officers could find, while paying no compensation to the largely Indian and European merchants. The Indian powers were outraged, but were unable to do anything about it. None of them had any naval capability to speak of, and the Chinese territories they bordered were far from the centres of power. Instead, they called upon their main trading partner, the EU, to act on their behalf.

In the meantime, matters were coming to a head at Guangzhou, the only port to which foreigners had free access. The EU's Superindendent of Trade, a certain Charles Elliot, had forbidden EU merchants from signing a pledge not to carry or trade in opium, and was attempting to enforce his position with two EU warships. When the merchant ship Thomas Coutts landed at Guangzhou and its captain signed the bond, Elliot responded by ordering his ships, the frigate Volage and the sloop-of-war Hyacinth, to blockade the Pearl River. On November 3rd, one of the ships fired on another EU merchant ship, the Royal Saxon, as it tried to pass. Chinese war junks deployed to protect the Royal Saxon, only to be sunk. The First Opium War would drag on for three years, ending with the signing of the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 AD; the first of many 'Unequal Treaties' to which China would be subjected. The war saw not only the capture of Chinese coastal forts, but European troops defeating Chinese armies and capturing Chinese cities, of which Shanghai was the most important. Chinese casualty estimates run as high as twenty thousand, while EU losses are estimated at around seventy killed and between four and five hundred wounded.

The causes of the defeat lay in the Qing dynasty's long-standing policies, as well as serious military and economic mismanagement. The armies lead by Nurhaci and his son Dorgon - who actually took the Imperial throne in 1644 - were well-trained and led by the standards of the time, and comparably equipped to European armies of the period. The infantry carried spears, matchlock muskets, and bows - the latter in far greater numbers than in Europe - and were supported by the elite horse archers of the Eight Banners, along with artillery created by Portuguese gunsmiths. The soldiers who attempted to resist European forces in the First Opium War carried much the same weapons, often in poor repair, while their training and organisational systems had hopelessly broken down. All they had to offer against European firepower was nigh-suicidal courage, earning them a degree of respect from the invaders. All the while, the Daoguang Emperor remained isolated in the Forbidden City in Beijing, kept ignorant of the course of the war by sheer distance and the efforts of his courtiers.

Despite such a glaring failure, the Qing military system would remain relatively unchanged until the closing decades of the 19th century. China's ruling elite was intellectually and ideologically incapable of understanding what had happened, or what to do about it. The roots of this failure lie in the Qing's rise to power, and the means by which it maintained control. The previous Ming dynasty had seen a period of intellectual curiosity and openness to new ideas, with the hitherto-sacrosanct teachings of Confucius and Mencius being called into question. Seeking to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the often-resentful Chinese, the Qing had suppressed all such inquiry in favour of strict Confucian orthodoxy. This was cemented through control of the Imperial Examination, the centre and ideal of Chinese education. Only by passing the exam at its third level could one enter the ranks of the Civil Service. Control of the exam and its content allowed the Qing government to shape the character, and the very minds, of those who served it. The exam itself focussed entirely on the Confucian classics, and required candidates to produce detailed essays written to a strictly prescribed pattern. This favoured rote-memorization and mental discipline, but left degree-holders with little or no capacity for critical analysis or inquiry; let alone the practical knowledge needed to understand modern economics and technology. To incredulous Europeans, it would have seemed akin to selecting civil servants via an exam written by the medieval Papacy.

Holy War for Heavenly Peace Edit

For all that Chinese society failed to adapt to a changing world, the Imperial examination had other, more human costs. Strict entrance and pass ratios, which were not updated to take China's burgeoning population into account, were onerous in themselves. Records from 1699 noted a candidate aged over a hundred entering the exam on the arm of his great-grandson; while in 1826, a candidate aged 104 failed the metropolitan rung once again, only to be given his degree out of pity. Far worse, in the eyes of many of China's Han majority, was the favouritism shown to Manchu candidates, who were preferred in the ratios and enjoyed a dumbed-down exam. Though exam failure was not particularly shameful, the psychological pressure and weight of expectation was too much for some candidates to bear. Nervous breakdowns and even deaths during the exams were not unknown, and some unfortunates were driven mad by the horror of failure. Exam failure even produced some of China's more famous rebels. Li Zicheng, the 'dashing prince' who helped bring down the Ming dynasty in 1644, was a postman who had failed the exam. But even he fades in the face of the most famous exam failure of all, who propagated the most destructive and traumatic rebellion in China's recent history.

Hong Huoxiu's entrance to history began in 1837, when he failed the provincial examination in Guangzhou for the second time. Suffering a nervous breakdown, he was tormented by strange visions, some of them involving an old man and an older brother figure, while others involved great birds and strange, otherwordly women. Upon his recovery, his family noticed that his personality had changed, becoming more solemn and authoritative. It was not until six years later, having failed the exam a total of four times and worked as a teacher to support himself, that he tried to make sense of these visions. Examining Christian pamphlets he had been given many years earlier, he became convinced that he was the new Messiah, the younger brother of Jesus Christ; much to the chagrin of curious missionaries, who tried and failed to disabuse him of this notion. Though persecuted by local officials, outraged at his preaching and his destruction of holy statues, Hong won a significant in Guangxi following among his fellow Hakka; one of China's many ethnic minorities. Going by the name of Hong Xiuquan, he preached a collectivist, syncretic version of Christianity, in which the sexes were equal - but segregated - and all assets were paid into a communal treasury.

By 1850, Hong had acquired between ten and thirty thousand followers. After refusing to disperse and killing a magistrate, they defeated an Imperial force early in 1851 near Jintian, in Guangxi Province. On January 11, Hong declared the Taìpíng Tīanguó Yùndòng, the Heavenly Kingdom of Transcendant Peace. Forced to move north by converging Imperial forces, the Taiping army eventually captured Nanjing in March of 1853, making it the capital of their movement. At its height, the Taipings controlled Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces in their entirety, along with portions of Hubei, Anhui, and Suzhou provinces; with an army of anything up to five hundred thousand men. From his palace at Nanjing, Hong issued a programme of radical reforms, including gender equality, communal land ownership, and the banning of polygamy and footbinding. Meanwhile, the war took on many characteristics of total war, with both sides attempting to destroy each-other's war-making capacity. Agricultural areas were destroyed and entire cities wiped out, with some six hundred towns known to have been destroyed. In Guangdong province alone, around a million people were executed by Imperial forces. Slowly, perhaps inevitably, the Taipings were ground down by Imperial armies, supplied with more modern weapons by the EU and Britannia. By August of 1864, the Taiping Rebellion was at an end, with a final death toll estimated at between twenty and thirty million.

The Dragon Recedes Edit

This period also saw a largely forgotten Second Opium War, running from 1856 to 1860. The ostensible cause was repeated aggression by Chinese subjects against EU citizens, notably merchants and missionaries. Of these, the single most famous was the missionary Auguste Chapdelaine, tortured and executed in February of 1856 by officials in Yaoshan. Though the EU was officially uninterested in missionary work, his death became a cause celebre among European Catholics, and the fact remained that he was an EU citizen; to paraphrase Paul the Apostle, civis Europa sum. Tensions rose futher when, in October of that year, Chinese marines boarded the cargo ship Arrow on suspicion of piracy, arresting most of its Chinese crew and reputedly pulling down the EU flag. The EU responded by destroying Chinese forts, and assembling ships and troops in Hong Kong. In a bizarre twist, the Holy Empire of Britannia became involved as a fellow complainant, though its forces operated independently. EU troops captured Guangzhou in January of 1858, and the Russian Empire joined the war shortly afterwards, forcing the signing of a separate Treaty of Aigun in May 1858, granting them Chinese territory up to the Amur River. The Chinese suffered further defeats, with the final fall of the Taku Forts in August 1860 - after a heroic defence - and the Battle of Palikao on 21 September. The Xianfeng Emperor fled, and the EU captured both Beijing and the nearby Summer Palaces; the latter were looted and burnt. The subsequent Convention of Beijing forced China to allow religious freedom and open more trade ports, as well as to pay an idemnity of 20 million taels of silver. The Chinese were forbidden even to refer to Europeans or Britannians as 'barbarians' in official documents; a cutting psychological blow.

This second humiliation saw the rise of the Self-Strengthening Movement; an attempt by Chinese officials and intellectuals to improve Chinese military technology while maintaining its culture. Under the Tongzhi Emperor, China managed a brief period of reform and gradual improvement. It was this period that saw the rise of Dowager Empriess Cixi, mother of Tongzhi, who secured the regency with the help of Dowager Empress Ci'an and Prince Gong. 'Attending audiences behind the curtain' as the Chinese put it, Cixi ruled China through her son, who proved a dissolute and generally unsatisfactory character. Contrary to popular myth, Cixi was greatly interested in and supportive of reform, seeing it as necessary to the survival of the dynasty and the protection of China. But this was never to be at the cost of her own power and influence, as proven by her mistreatment of Prince Gong; dismissing him from his numerous positions on a trumped-up charge of inappropriate behaviour at court. Though he was reinstated to the Foreign Ministry under popular pressure, his demotion greatly disrupted the liberal reforms to which his support had been instrumental. When Tongzhi died without issue in 1875, the throne went his young cousin Prince Zaitian, who reigned as the Guangxu Emperor. A virtuous and frugal youth, Guangxu attempted and succeeded in reducing the Imperial household expenses in 1892, an achievement diluted by the need to provide for his increasingly extravagant aunt, Cixi.

The conflict between aunt and nephew came to a head in 1894, with the outbreak of the First Sino-Japanese War. Like those between Guangxu and Cixi, tensions between China and Japan had been building for some time. Having industrialised and modernised at breakneck speed, Japan had taken advantage of China's weakness to expand its influence on the Korean peninsula, a long-standing Chinese vassal. Tensions reached their peak in March of 1894, when pro-Japanese Korean revolutionary Kim Ok-gyun was lured to Shanghai and murdered by a Korean agent. A subsequent peasant rebellion in June saw the transfer of Chinese troops to Korea, which the Japanese took as a violation of the Treaty of Tientsin. Japanese troops landed in Korea, captured Seoul, and replaced the pro-China government with a pro-Japan regime. The war that followed lasted eight months, and saw China utterly defeated on land and sea. Japanese forces advanced north, capturing Pyongyang on September 15th and advancing into Manchuria. Meanwhile, China's new Beiyang Fleet was destroyed on September 17th at the Battle of the Yalu River. Though equipped with larger and more powerful warships, the Chinese sailors were poorly trained and ill-disciplined, and their ships often in a parlous state of repair. The surviving ships were lost when the Japanese captured Weihaiwei on February 12th, 1895. The war ended in April, with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki; recognising the independence of Korea and ceding the the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan and Penghu Islands to Japan.

Guangxu was deeply shocked by the defeat, which convinced him that China was in mortal danger. Worse, his aunt had proven that she could not be trusted. Throughout the war, ministers had made reports to her instead of him. Even worse, it was revealed that his own father, Prince Chun, had plundered Imperial navy funds in order to rebuild the Old Summer Palace as Cixi's retirement residence. Chun had done this in order to protect his son, but the scandal was no less severe for it. Under the influence of progressive ministers, Guangxu concluded that China needed to modernise itself along Britannian or Japanese lines. To this effect, he began what would become known as the 'Hundred Days Reform' in June of 1898. The programme included the establishment of a modern education system, reforming the economy along capitalist lines, rapid industrialisation,and even the establishment of an elected legislature. The reforms sent shockwaves through Chinese society, which was not entirely ready for them. The xenophobic Grand Council was outraged at being bypassed, and newly-dismissed officials - judged useless by Guangxu - begged the Dowager Empress to act. Cixi eventually launched a coup d'etat on September 21st, succeeding with the help of General Yuan Shikai, who infamously switched sides at the last minute. Guangxu spent the rest of his life in seclusion, eventually dying under suspicious circumstances in November of 1908, days before Cixi herself. Though seemingly defeated, Guangxu's efforts would long outlive him. To China's foreign-educated intelligentsia, frustrated by the Qing dynasty's resistance to reform, Guangxu was well-meaning young Emperor who had tried to help his people and died for it. To them, the Qing dynasty had proven itself beyond redemption and incapable of reform.

A Hundred Days to Revolution Edit

The last decades of the 19th century were for China the most humiliating of what would come to be known as the Century of Humiliation. With the Qing incapable of resisting them, foreign powers established their own spheres of influence across China, seeking to dominate trade for their own profit. Though little concession was made to Chinese feelings, the Britannians were the most overt of the colonisers. Whereas most foreign-controlled areas of China were referred to as 'Concessions', the Britannians used the term 'Settlements.' Like the Concessions of the other powers, the Settlements were run under Britannian law, populated by Britannian citizens, and even guarded by Britannian troops. Chinese officials and police could enter only by invitation, and those Chinese permitted to live and work in the Settlements were treated as second-class citizens at best. Unlike most Concessions, the Settlements tended to be fortified, and the Britannians were far more aggressive in expanding their holdings; demolishing whole neighbourhoods and driving native Chinese from their homes whenever they saw need.

The paranoia of the foreigners was matched by the resentment and hatred of their hosts. By 1900, anti-foreign feeling had coalesced around a secret society calling itself the 'Righteous and Harmonious Fists'. Otherwise known as the Boxers, they rejected foreign culture, thought, and even weapons in favour of traditional spiritualism and martial arts; which they believed would protect them from bullets. Though regarded as dangerous fanatics by many in the Qing court, they were the primary if not the only port of call for Chinese seeking to lash out at foreign domination. Their ranks swollen by countless unemployed and dispossessed Chinese, the Boxers made their move in June of 1900, swarming into Beijing and launching attacks on the diplomatic quarter. Soldiers and civilians of multiple nationalities banded together to fortify and defend the district, which held out for fifty-five days. Meanwhile Britannia, the EU, and Japan deployed a combined army to relieve Beijing, while Russian forces invaded Manchuria. The allies relieved the diplomatic quarter in August, forcing the Dowager Empress to flee to Xi'an, taking Guangxu with her. Having taken Beijing, the allies launched a series of brutal reprisals in the surrounding territories, while the Russians effectively destroyed Manchuria. The one silver lining in a thoroughly dark cloud was that the foreign powers saw the danger in trying to colonise or conquer China, and no further territorial concessions were sought.

The failure of the Boxer rebellion, and the brutal reprisals that followed, brought anti-foreign feeling to a boil. They also convinced Chinese revolutionaries that the old ways could no longer be depended-upon. If China was to be free, it needed all the power that modern industry and weaponry could grant. A series of small-scale brushfire revolts broke out, only to fall apart or be crushed by the Qing's rapidly improving army. It was in Wuchang, in October of 1911, that the revolution enjoyed its first real success. The Wuchang revolt was a cooperative effort between local rebels and the Tongmenghui - the Revolutionary Alliance - led by the well-known revolutionary Sun Yat-sen. The revolt spread rapidly, until the cities of Hankow and Hanyang were also under rebel control. The Qing government responded quickly, retaking Hankow and Hangyang by the end of November. Though unenthusiastic, the Imperial troops were well-armed and supported by modern artillery, generally making short work of rebel forces. But the rebels had captured the popular imagination, and similar uprisings broke out all across southern China. So desperate was the Qing government that it recalled Yuan Shikai from enforced retirement, appointing him military governor of Hupei and Hunan in October. His control of the Beiyang Army, China's most powerful army, made him both the dynasty's last hope and a significant threat. Yuan sought to end the uprising by negotiation as well as by force, but by November it was plain to him that the fall of the Qing dynasty was only a matter of time. In December he pledged his support to the rebels, agreeing to force the Emperor's abdiction in return for their support in becoming President of the new republic after Sun Yat-sen. The young Xuantong Emperor finally abdicated on February 3rd, and Yuan Shikai was sworn in as second President on March 10th. The Qing dynasty was at an end.

The Road to Nanjing Edit

The new republic moved its capital from Nanjing to Beijing at Yuan's insistence. In August, the Tongmenghui merged with five smaller parties to form the Kuomintang party, under Sun Yat-sen's leadership. Favouring nationalism and democracy, the Kuomintang opposed the Jinbutang - the Progressive Party - led by Liang Qichao, which favoured constitutional monarchy and generally supported Yuan. Conflict between these factions heightened with the National Assembly elections of January 1913, which gave control of both houses to the Kuomintang. Song Jiaoren, who led the KMT on Sun's behalf, set himself against Yuan; whom he feared was becoming too powerful. On March 20th he was assassinated in Shanghai, almost certainly on Yuan's orders. Opposition to Yuan grew as he secured a loan of twenty-five million Euros from the EU without consulting the parliament, and then in May granted special privileges in Outer Mongolia to Russia. When KMT members of Parliament called for Yuan's removal, the Jinbudang sided with him against the KMT. In July seven southern provinces rebelled in a short-lived Second Revolution; which came to an end in September when Yuan's forces took Nanjing. The next month, Parliament declared Yuan President of the Republic.

In November, Yuan expelled the KMT from the Parliament, then suspended it in January 1914 on the basis that it did not meet quorum. A series of revisions to the Constitution expanded his powers, and by December he had secured the lengthening of the Presidential term of office to ten years. To informed observers, it was increasingly apparent that he intended to declare himself Emperor. This he did on 12 December 1915, to widespread outrage. Yunnan province declared independence, followed by several other southern provinces. When Yuan attempted to crush the uprising, he found his generals unwilling. He renounced the throne in an attempt to win them over, only to die from uremia in June of 1916. Without his unifying hand, the Beiyang army split into the Anhui and Zhili cliques, along with the Fengtian faction based in Northeast China - formerly known as Manchuria. In a period of chaos lasting until 1928, as many as two thousand warlords battled for control of China, including some colorful and extreme personalities. One of the most notorious was Zhang Zhongchang, the 'Dogmeat General', who kept a harem of up to fifty concubines of varying nationality, and employed many thousands of Russian mercenaries. His adversary Wu Peifu, the renowned 'Jade Marshal', was reputed to possess the world's largest diamond. Ma Fu-hsing, the Tao-yin of Kashgar, had anyone who disobeyed him thrown into a hay cutting machine.

Sun's response to this chaos was to form his own faction in the south, based at Guangzhou. Convinced that China could be saved only through military conquest, followed by political tutelage, he began cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party, and later recieved assistance from the Soviet Union. In June of 1923, he and his wife, Soong Ching-ling, were rescued from an assassination attempt by a military officer named Chiang Kai-shek. With Chiang's help, and an army of mercenaries, Sun managed to regain control of Guangzhou. Reforming the KMT into a revolutionary government, Sun sent Chiang to Soviet Russia to study its political and military system. Chiang did not like what he found, concluding after three months in Moscow that the Soviet model was not suitable for China. In 1924 he was appointed Commandant of the newly-established Whampoa Military Academy, a position that allowed him to cultivate a clique of officers loyal to the KMC, and also to himself. In June of 1926, Chiang became Commander-in-Chief of the National Revolutionary Army, as the KMT's army was known. Encouraged by the Soviets, Chiang began what would come to be known as the Northern Expedition in 1926; a full-scale assault against the northern warlords. In the space of six months, the NRA's three 'route armies' defeated the Zhili clique.

It was at this point that Chiang committed one of his most momentous and arguably most disastrous acts. Faced with a plot by the government's Military Commission to arrest him, and fearful of the growing power and influence of the Chinese Communist Party, Chiang sought to break the communists once and for all. Having formed an alliance with several anti-communist Shanghai gangs, Chiang declared martial law in Shanghai on April 9th 1927, and denounced the Nationalist government in Wuhan for cooperating with the CCP. On April 12th, he ordered soldiers of the 26th army to disarm the workers' militias, while allied gang members attacked district offices under the control of communist-aligned labor unions. When union workers and students launched a mass protest the next day, Chiang's troops fired on them. Between these actions and subsequent purges, many hundreds were killed and over five thousand went missing. The government in Wuhan denounced Chiang as a traitor, and Chiang retaliated by forming his own government in Nanjing. Ironically, the Wuhan government began purging its own communists shortly afterwards, when a plot by Soviet advisor Mikhail Borodin to overthrow the KMT was discovered. Over ten thousand communists were killed, and the following year would see over three hundred thousand deaths in the KMT's suppression campaigns.

White Sun, Blue Sky, Red Earth Edit

As a result of these events, Chiang was left in effective control of the KMT, its armies, and its territories. Dubbed the 'Generalissimo' by the western media, his suppression of the communists caused him to be seen as a pro-western capitalist, but this was mistaken. A Confucian and nationalist, Chiang regarded both capitalism (as it was then understood) and communism as unhealthy western imports, inimical to true Chinese values. With the communists defeated, Chiang unleashed his gangster allies upon Shanghai's wealthy elite, facing them with a stark choice; put their assets and wealth at his disposal, or be stripped of both and possibly their lives. With no realistic alternatives and the communists still much dreaded, China's new capitalists grudgingly bent the knee. This did not stop them from occasionally plotting with foreign powers, such as the notorious Cathay Hotel Plot, in which prominent Shanghai citizens conspired with Britannian settlers to bring about the conquest of China by Britannia.

With internal enemies suppressed for the moment, Chiang resumed his campaign against the warlords, capturing Beijing in June of 1928. This success gained the KMT recognition by foreign powers as the legitimate government of China, even though much of China's former territory was still outside his control. Though Tibet had gained at least practical autonomy, and its relationship with the new government remained uncertain, Chinese 'suzerainty' was recognised. Mongolia, meanwhile, had been lost to a native uprising in 1911, regained in 1919, only to be lost again to the notorious 'Mad Baron' Roman von Ungern-Sternberg, who was in turn defeated by the Mongolian revolutionary Damdin Sukhbaatar, who helped found the Mongolian People's Republic.

Chiang sought to continue his campaign of unification, but this was proving increasingly difficult. Though he continued to gain territory from the warlords, his forces would never again match their earlier achievements. Largely infantry-based, with limited artillery and little in the way of armoured vehicles or aircraft, the NRA could gain territory from the increasingly resilient warlord armies only at brutal cost. By this time, his most dangerous opponent was Marshal Zhang Zuolin, the de-facto ruler of Manchuria, who dominated northern China with a vast, well-armed army and the support of Japan. It was only a twist of fate that saved Chiang from a long and brutal campaign against him. On June 3rd 1928, Zhang's private train was blown up outside of Mukden; part of a plot by the Japanese Kwantung army to destabilise Manchuria and provide a pretext for invasion. Chiang countered by winning over Zhang's son, Xueliang, and allowing him to rule Manchuria almost independently in return for his military support.

Now in effective control of most of China, Chiang sought to stabilise the country in line with Sun Yat-sen's plan; first military control, then political tutelage, and finally democracy. But even military control was proving difficult, for although the remaining warlords were at least nominally allied to Chiang, their loyalty was by no means guaranteed. In theory, Chiang's NRA numbered over one million six hundred-thousand men, but a significant proportion of these were loyal primarily to his warlord subordinates. This, and the ungodly expense of maintaining so vast an army, forced Chiang to cut its strength down to an army of sixty-five divisions, each of eleven thousand men. Many warlords, seeing that their units were first in line for demobilisation, rebelled rather than be stripped of their power; condemning China to yet another civil war in 1930. The so-called Central Plains War was foreshadowed by a minor clash with the Soviet Union over control of the Manchurian Chinese East Railway in 1929. The former was a much-needed victory for Chiang, the latter an embarassing defeat. Revolts would also break out in Szechwan, the Kumul Khanate of Xinjiang, and among the Uighurs of Sinkiang; the latter declaring their 'East Turkistan Republic' in 1933. Chiang's distraction would prove a boon for the wounded Communist movement, giving it time and space to rally. It would also see the rise of a young peasant revolutionary from Hunan province, by the name of Mao Zedong.

Eagles Cleave the Air Edit

Born to a prosperous peasant family in the village of Shaoshan, Hunan, in December of 1893, Mao Zedong was an unlikely revolutionary. His father's Mao Rensheng's wealth, born of hard work and astute saving, allowed Mao a classical education by Confucian teachers. This left the young Mao with a love of learning, and inculcated in him three values by which he sought to live; the need for both people and societies to have a moral compass, the primacy of right-thinking, and the importance of self-improvement. These typically Chinese ideals would bring him into conflict with his father, who responded to his own brother's plea for financial help by taking his land. Rensheng continued to dominate and humiliate Mao, denying him the dignity due to an eldest son, and driving him to rebellion. The final straw came in 1908, when at age fourteen he was married to a certain Luo Yixiu at the behest of their fathers. For the rest of his life Mao denied having ever consummated the marriage, and he is known to have fled the family home shortly afterwards. The entire affair left Mao with a strong dislike of arranged marriage, and the oft-stated belief that men and women should be equal. Having rebelled against father, family, and society, Mao had no intention of changing tack. He came to lionize anti-Qing rebels, and in October of 1911 he joined a revolutionary army in Changsha. Radicalised by the works of western thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Montesquieu, and disappointed by the brief and inconclusive revolution, Mao left the army in 1912 to pursue his education. With warlord armies fighting over the city, Mao put his new-found beliefs into practice by organising students to collect weapons and defend their school campus from marauding soldiers.

Mao lived in Beijing from 1917 to 1920, working as a library assistant at Beijing University. It was at this time that he became a Communist, and became a founding member of the CCP in July of 1921, being named party secretary for Hunan. In this capacity he proved an effective organiser, organising many strikes against the warlord governor, Zhao Hengti. In 1924, while recuperating from an illness in his native Shaoshan, he learned that some of the local peasantry had seized land to form communes. This helped to convince him of one of his long-standing ideas, that China's rural population was the ideal seedbed for revolution. His classical education had taught him of the many peasant rebellions in China's history, and how they succeeded and failed. This interest netted him the leadership of the KMT's Peasant Movement Training Institute, in which capacity he organised and trained Hunanese peasants for militant activity. He continued in this capacity during the Northern Expedition, in which peasants rose up and took land from wealthy landowners. Mao was quick to notice the anger this caused among senior KMT figures; many were landlords themselves, while others thought these actions a threat to the social order. Mao responded in February of 1927 with one of his most famous quotes;

Revolution is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.

The crushing of the CCP in 1927 marked a radical change in Mao's path. It was obvious to him, as it was to the party as a whole, that they could survive only through armed force. Appointed commander-in-chief of the new Red Army, Mao led a peasant uprising in Hunan and Jiangxi in September, later to be known as the Autumn Harvest Uprising. The uprising failed due to stiff KMT resistance and CCP leadership failures, though some historians have argued that Mao deliberately fluffed the uprising for his own purposes. Fleeing the defeat, Mao led his remaining forces into the Jinggang mountains of Jiangxi province. There he joined forces with local bandits, swearing brotherhood with two bandit leaders and marrying one of their sisters. Known as Shandawang - King of the Mountain Mobs. Mao established his base in Jinggangshang City, and set about training a new guerrilla army. He was joined there by Zhu De and his remaining troops in April of 1928. Together, they laid the groundwork for the Chinese armed forces that exists to this day.

The Long March Edit

The army created at Jinggangshang and tested over the following two years was divided into three tiers. The lowest were peasant self-defence groups, organised at the village level. The second tier were local Red Army units under district command, while the highest tier was the main Red Army under the command of the Central Committee. The main army was organised into three so-called 'Front Armies', themselves divided up on a three-by-three basis; each front army had three armies, each army had three divisions, each division had three regiments, and so on. This system was somewhat inflexible, but easy to understand and organise. The army's disciplinary code, the Three Rules of Discipline and Eight Points for Attention, was formulated at this time. The code called on Red army soldiers to obey orders, never steal or rape, and be honest when buying and selling. This would prove invaluable later. By November 1931, when the Central Soviet Region was established in Jiangxi, the Red Army numbered over one hundred and fifty thousand men and women, supported by dozens of armaments factories. The CCP had gone from a defeated ideology to a heavily-armed state-within-a-state; something the KMT could not tolerate.

Chiang Kai-shek's response was a series of five 'encirclement campaigns', running from 1930 to 1934. For the first four campaigns, the Red Army responded as Mao and Zhu had taught it; luring KMT troops into their territory, wearing them down with hit-and-run attacks, then attacking them from all sides. When a thoroughly frustrated Chiang launched his fifth encirclement campaign in the summer of 1933, it numbered over a million troops. KMT forces by this point were far better organised and equipped than before, but still a mixed bag in many respects. The NRA had started as a Soviet-style army, but the subsequent breakdown in relations had forced Chiang to turn elsewhere for support. Most of his own troops were EU-trained - largely by German advisers such as Hans von Seeckt and Alexander von Falkenhausen - used a doctrine and structure based on EU norms, and even wore European uniforms. By contrast his Manchurian troops were Japanese-trained, wore Japanese uniforms, and largely used Japanese equipment. Chiang's strategy, suggested by his German advisors, was to encircle the Communists with fortified blockhouses, allowing them to hold down territory more easily and make good use of their firepower advantage. By January of 1934, Mao had been forced from his military positions in favour of Soviet advisors such as Otto Braun, otherwise known as Li De. The Central Committee then favoured a 'two fists fighting back' strategy, which consisted largely of full-frontal attacks on the KMT blockhouses, resulting in heavy losses.

By August, the Communists had lost most of Jiangxi. Their spy network within Chiang's headquarters, run by a certain Zhou Enlai, discovered that Chiang was preparing for a final push. On October 16, one hundred and thirty thousand soldiers and party members escaped the KMT cordon, fleeing into neighbouring Hunan. Thus began what would be known as the 'Long March', as the communists retreated West through Hunan. At a meeting at Tongdao, Mao proposed moving into Guizhou, where he expected KMT defences to be weak. Otto Braun opposed him, only to be overruled when Zhou Enlai sided with Mao. In January of 1935 the Red Army captured Zunyi, then attempted to move north into Sichuan, only to find KMT forces blocking the way. Zhou and Mao were forced to retreat south, then head west via Yunnan, then north via Sichuan, Gansu, and Ningxia, finally reaching Shaanxi in October. All the while they were harrassed by KMT and warlord forces, and suffered heavy losses to exposure and starvation. Covering over six thousand miles, the Long March became the greatest legend of the Red Army, its survivors held in awe by those came after them. By the time the Red Army straggled into Shaanxi, Mao was in effective control, and determined to make good use of it. The hardships of war and the Long March had hardened his character, and personal tragedies even more so. By then, the war had cost him his younger brother Mao Zetan, his cousin and adopted sister Mao Zejian, and his second wife Yang Kaihui, along with two daughters he had been forced to leave with peasant families during the Long March. For him, and so many others, there could be no going back.

Manchukuo Edit

Governed on Chiang's behalf by Zhang Xueliang since 1928, Manchuria enjoyed several years of relative peace. Though the pro-war ideologues of Japan's Kwantung Army had been restrained by Tokyo, Japanese interest in Manchuria continued. Drawn by Manchuria's ample mineral reserves, including coal and iron ore, Japan's government and Zaibatsu megacorporations invested considerable sums in mines, railways, factories, and other developments. As a result, Manchuria developed with astonishing rapidity, becoming one of China's - and east Asia's - great success stories. Run by Zhang as what amounted to a military dictatorship, 1931 saw the rise of a new political movement, the 'Concordia Association'. Derived from the Pan-Asian movement, the CA sought to create a perfect state in which many peoples would live in harmony, a beacon for their ideals. Manchuria was perfect for their purposes, with a population made up of Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongolians, Koreans, and a growing number of Japanese immigrants; along with small communities of White Russian refugees and other European exiles. Big-name Concordians included ex-warlords Ma Zhanshan and Zhang Jinghui, Russian General Vladimir Kislitsin, and noted Zionist Dr Abraham Kaufman. Unifed by idealism and ambition, as well as frustration with the corruption and incompetence of the KMT, the CA plotted secession.

Seeking to take advantage of Chiang's distraction with the Communists, the Concordians made their move early in 1932. Having spent many months building support throughout Manchuria, and even suborning several army generals, the CA attempted to overthrow Zhang in a military coup. Zhang soon found himself isolated, and was forced to flee Manchuria with what remained of his followers. Loyalist troops attempted resistance, notably at Nenjiang bridge, but by the end of February Manchuria was under CA control. Declaring the new state of Manzhou-guo - better known as Manchukuo - the Concordians set about organising their new society and seeking international recognition. Japanese recognition came almost immediately, sparking rumours and conspiracy theories that the Japanese government, or perhaps the Militarists, had been behind the takeover. Official Japanese involvement nevertheless remained minimal, with Japanese advisors overseeing the development of the Manchukuo economy and army. The USSR also recognized Manchukuo, as did several south-east Asian nations, while the EU and Britannia demurred, but established informal diplomatic relations.

In March, the new Manchukuo acquired its very own Chief Executive, in the person of Aisin-Gioro Puyi - previously known as the Xuantong Emperor. After being expelled from the Forbidden City in 1918, Puyi had lived in the Japanese Concession of Tianjin, alternating between self-indulgence and plotting to regain his throne. His appearance in Manchukuo was at the behest of his old ally Zheng Xiaoxu, and Yoshiko Kawashima; a Qing princess raised in Japan, whose true loyalties were never entirely clear. Puyi spent two years as Chief Executive, before being crowned as Emperor in 1934, with the title Kangde. Well-meaning, if narcissistic and somewhat warped, Puyi made no secret of his wish to reclaim China for his dynasty. He had many reasons to hate the Republic, not merely for keeping him imprisoned in the Forbidden City for so many years, but for having broken their promises and desecrated the Imperial Tombs; he was particularly incensed to learn that Chiang had given pearls from the Empress Dowager's headdress to his wife to decorate her shoes. With thirty million people, a highly-industrialised economy, and an increasingly well-trained army of over one hundred thousand at his disposal, he would set things right; for China, himself, and perhaps the whole world.

Despite Chiang's fixation with the Communists, the threat of Manchukuo had not gone unnoticed. Zhang Xueliang was particularly vehement in his denounciations of Manchukuo, having lost his entire territory and most of his army in its creation. All the while, desperate intelligence officers and spies pleaded with Chiang to understand the danger, but the Generalissimo would not be swayed. Chiang firmly believed that a pre-emptive attack would bring the Japanese into the war on Manchukuo's side, and that to launch an external war while internal enemies were still at large was madness. The final straw came in 1936, when Chiang planned a major offensive to crush the Yan'an Soviet, and made the mistake of choosing Zhang for to command it. Convinced that Chinese should not fight Chinese at such a time, Zhang was forced to act. On December 4th, Chiang arrived at Xi'an to oversee the offensive. On the 12th, Zhang's troops slaughtered Chiang's bodyguards and kidnapped the Generalissimo and his staff. Zhang then arranged a meeting with representatives of the CCP, and forced an outraged Chiang to attend. Zhang contemplated executing Chiang, but was persuaded that no one else could control the KMT. In spite of everything, on 24th December, an agreement to form a united front was reached.

Manchukuo Rises Edit

The Manchurian offensive began in July of 1937, with a series of thrusts into northern China and neighbouring Mongolia. Well supported by artillery and aircraft, the Manchurian forces made quick work of any Chinese forces that attempted resistance. By the first week of August, Beijing and its port city of Tianjin were in Manchurian hands, with the Kangde Emperor reinstalled in the Forbidden City. While this did not lead to a full-scale rejection of the KMT in favour of Kangde - as the Emperor may have convinced himself would happen - it was nevertheless a cutting blow. Over the following months, Manchurian forces would gradually expand their control of northern China, though their main effort was south into Shandong province. Chiang vowed absolute resistance, but his words rang hollow in the face of defeat after defeat.

On the face of it, Chiang should have had little difficulty in halting the invasion. NRA forces in northern China numbered over a million men, facing a Manchurian invasion numbering only a few hundred thousand. But as in so many other wars, numbers did not tell the whole story. The hundred-thousand troops of the Imperial Manchukuo Army had been trained by Japanese instructors, with a heavy emphasis on rapid movement, enduring hardship, and self-sacrifice. Their training also included a number of European and Britannian ideas, including small-squad tactics, mechanization, and close air support. To this end, Japan had liberally supplied its ally with thousands of armoured vehicles and hundreds of aircraft. Behind these elite troops came many hundreds of thousands of former warlord troops, somewhat improved by the efforts of their Japanese instructors, but on the whole little better than their NRA-aligned counterparts. In battle they acted as the hammer to the Imperial army's scalpel, crushing enemy formations already weakened by air attacks and isolated by Imperial armoured and mechanized units. But for all this, the seemingly miraculous performance of the Manchurian forces was as at least much - if not primarily - due to NRA weakness. Chiang possessed maybe one hundred thousand European-trained troops capable of fighting the Manchurians on equal terms; the rest varied considerably in their training and equipment, and their morale was generally poor.

This early period would be marked by one of the most tragic, and heroic, battles of the entire war. The first came at Shanghai, where fighting raged from August 13th to November 26th, beginning with an incident that very nearly brought Japan into the war on Manchuria's side. When Japanese warships were seen approaching Shanghai, ostensibly to evacuate foreign civilians, the Chinese garrison overreacted, launching a full-scale attack on the International Settlement. Chinese aircraft accidently bombarded the settlement on August 14th, causing around three thousand civilian deaths. The incident caused outrage in Tokyo, and Kangde saw an opportunity to ingratiate himself with his main ally while humiliating Chiang further. Over the objections of his generals, he ordered his airforce to intervene. Outnumbered and flying much older fighters, the Chinese pilots fought stubbornly for three days. Irritated by the slow pace of the air campaign, Kangde ordered his ground forces to concentrate on Shanghai, while his naval forces acted in support. The Manchurian Imperial Navy was a small affair, consisting of a few dozen gunboats and a handful of older Japanese frigates and destroyers. But with the ROCAF already defeated by the time they arrived, they bombarded Shanghai with impunity. With the Chinese navy - such as it had been - also destroyed, the Manchurians were able to bring troops to the city by sea, using chartered liners and hastily-refitted freighters. Though under attack on multiple sides, under substantial air and sea bombardment, and in many cases armed only with small arms, the Chinese troops resisted doggedly. Weary of the brutal urban combat, and fearful of what taking Shanghai might cost, the Manchurian commanders resorted to poison gas, against which the Chinese had no defence. The resulting death toll was appalling by any standard, and would have been worse had the civilian population not already fled.

The Battle of Shanghai was, ironically, disastrous for both sides. Chiang lost most of his best troops defending the city, along with half his air force. Worse in its own way was the diplomatic fallout, as whatever sympathy he was able to garner in foreign capitals was overwhelmed by outrage of the apparently accidental bombardment of the International Settlement. This caused great resentment in China, for the few thousand foreign casualties were far outweighed by the tens of thousands of Chinese civilians killed at Japanese or Manchurian hands. As it was, the Japanese won praise around the world for their 'restraint' after evacuating Shanghai, and Chiang had little choice but to go along with it; writing the whole matter off as a tragic misunderstanding. Despite this, he continued to denounce Japanese support for Manchukuo, even going so far as to claim that the majority of the ethnic Japanese and Korean officers and personnel - who dominated the technical arms and the general staff - were in fact regular Japanese soldiers in disguise; a claim Japan has consistently denied. But for all the horrors Shanghai had suffered, international reactions were mixed at best. Pro-China protests became a common sight in European and Britannian cities, as activists sought to persuade governments, banks, and business interests to disinvest in Japan and Manchukuo. But with Japanese sakuradite increasingly dominating the global market, serious trade restrictions were out of the question. Besides, shoppers in Pendragon or Paris did not appreciate being loudly and angrily told that they were killing Chinese children by buying Japanese toys. Even the use of poison gas at Shanghai did not make much difference; for as the Concordia association's European associates pointed out, both superpowers had themselves used gas extensively in the previous war. The lesson taken away by those Chinese who cared to notice was that Japanese trade - especially sakuradite - was more valuable to the world than their lives. It was a lesson would not soon forget...or forgive.

Desperate for weapons and allies, Chiang turned at last to the most unlikely of saviours; the Holy Empire of Britannia. Already humiliated by the climbdown over Shanghai, and with Manchurian forces still advancing, Chiang was forced to seek Imperial help on the most unlikely of pretexts. Though the war had forced many foreigners from China, Britannia still occupied numerous concessions; notably at Tianjin, Weihaiwei, and Hankou, as well as a cluster of holdings near Hong Kong. These were in many respects the prototypes of modern Britannian settlements, possessing their own municipal governments and police forces, and even military garrisons. Taking advantage of official corruption and weakness, the Britannians had expanded some of the concessions until they controlled entire towns or cities, which they then fortified. These settlements became closed worlds, isolated from the Chinese population yet dependent upon them; islands of Britannian culture in a vast and increasingly hostile Chinese ocean. Few Britannians had much good to say about Chiang or his people, whom they regarded as stubbornly backward, offensively xenophobic, and inexplicably arrogant. But the safety and wellbeing of the colonists had become a political issue, one that Chiang saw no option but to take advantage of. His ambassadors pleaded with Emperor Theseus for help, citing both the Manchurian and the Communist threats to the settlements.

Theseus professed sympathy, but those close to him knew that it was all Chiang was likely to get. With his economic stimulus and rearmament programmes straining the treasury to its limit, Theseus had little to give. Besides, both the settlers and their sympathisers tended to be lower or middle class Britannians, for whom the settlements represented opportunity and luxurious lifestyles they could only dream of in the homeland. Theseus' courtiers and high officials - all nobles by birth or promotion - had little sympathy for their aspirations. Despite this, Theseus had noticed that the pro-settlement party were turning increasingly to the Nativists for support, and was shrewd enough to understand the need for a gesture; however insubstantial in practice. His first gesture was to reorganise and increase the Britannian contingent in China to one hundred thousand troops, under the command of General Joseph Stilwell, stationed primarily in and around Hong Kong. He backed this up by buying out the remaining non-Britannian concessions in Hong Kong, making it a wholly Britannian city. He also responded to Chiang's plea for weapons by sending him older equipment made obsolete by his rearmament programme, saving himself the trouble of scrapping it. An initially delighted Chiang reciprocated by making Stilwell his Chief of Staff, doubtless hoping that Stilwell and his officers could do better than his own subordinates. Stilwell's reports to the Emperor were scathing; describing cheerful corruption, blithering incompetence, and pointless brutality at all levels of Chiang's government and army. Made cautious by these reports, Theseus was unsympathetic to Chiang's endless pleas for more and better troops and weapons; quipping to his Minister of War Winston Churchill, he can have his nice weapons when I have my nice money.

More to come







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