Alternative History

The flags of the People's Republic of China (left) and the Republic of China (right)

DISCLAIMER: This timeline does not represent any of my political opinions and stances.

Whether a person has a favourable view of People’s Republic of China (PRC) or not, he/she cannot deny the fact that it has been emerging fast as a global power for the last 30 years. It is rather surprising to some of us that one of the last bastions of Marxist socialism can become the second largest economy in the world. Despite China’s rapid economic growth and its ever-increasing influence on the global stage, the Celestial Empire still has many problems of its own. Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China has witnessed a surge in its authoritarian policies, with examples being the crackdown on the 2019-2020 Hong Kong protests and the harsh treatment of ethnic minorities like Tibetans and Uyghurs. Under the Trump administration, China-United States relations has hit an all-time low, sparking the possibility of a new Cold War between the world’s two major superpowers. Not just economically, the military influence of the PRC is also on the rise in the South China Sea and the Sino-Indian border as well. And to add more fuel to the fire, the Chinese city of Wuhan was the starting place of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a global wave of Sinophobia and has somewhat deteriorated China’s image in the general worldview.

The turning point in Chinese history was on the 1st of October 1949, when Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. There was peace and unity for sometime in the Middle Kingdom, but a period of chaos, starvation and death soon began after the start of the Great Leap Forward campaign in 1958 and the Cultural Revolution in 1966. Long-lasting stability only came in 1978, when Mao’s successor as the paramount leader of the PRC, Deng Xiaoping, initiated the Chinese economic reform, which marked the transition of China to a market-based economy. The modern China as we see it today was born.

However, the CPC didn’t just take power in an easy way. They had to fight a civil war againt the ruling party of the Republic of China (ROC) at that time and the communists’ former ally, the Kuomintang (KMT) and its leader Chiang Kai-shek. The fighting began in 1927 but was temporarily suspended in 1937, when the two parties formed a united front to resist the Japanese invasion. Following the end of the Second World War, the CPC-KMT conflict continued until 1949, when communist forces captured the Chinese capital city of Nanjing, causing the Republic of China leadership to retreat to the island of Taiwan. Since then, the PRC and the ROC has been engaged in a diplomatic, military and political tug-of-war, with both countries claiming to be the sole legitimate government of China as a whole.

But what if, the Kuomintang has managed to defeat the Communists in the civil war? What if Chiang Kai-shek had been the unifier of China instead of Mao? How would the Cold War turn out if China never became communist? Will the fate of China and the rest of the world ever be the same? Welcome to the universe of the alternate timeline Chiang's World.