The The Great Qing, Empire of China, Chinese Empire, China, Zhongguó, 中國, is a large authoritarian monarchy in east Asia. It is bordered by (clockwise from south to north) Viet Nam, Tibet, Afghanistan, Khoqand, Vladimir and Japan. It has by far the largest population of any single country, around 791 million, and the capital is Beijing.
The head of state is Emperor Yongye.
Various languages are spoken, Mandarin and Cantonese are the largest and most widely spoken.
The currency is the Chinese Yuan (CNY).
Inhabited since prehistoric times the core of the entity now known as China was first united by the campaigns of Emperor Qin Shi Huang in 221 BC. Unity proved fleeting; civil wars broke the empire up once more and new dynasties would briefly florish, unify and expand China's reach before splintering once more. Successive regimes constructed the vast Great War as a deterent against tribes to the north.
The Empire would be finally re-unified by the all-conquering Kublai Khan in 1271 and his subsequent Yuan dynasty. Yuan rule would in turn crumble in the face of economic and enviromental disasters and revolts would install the Ming dynasty in 1368.
The 'Great Ming' would eventually see China at its largest extent; and boasting dominion over Tibet, Chatagai Khanate, Manchuria, Mongolia, and with Korea and Tondo as client states. They would also send huge 'treasure fleets' across the world in the aim of dominating trade and expanding Ming's tributary system. These reached India, Arabia, East Africa and even western Leifia in 1420. Curiosity about the world was soon proscribed by Imperial decree and only official treasure fleets who followed strictly delinated routes were permitted, shutting down private merchant activity. Hence when Europeans and their more flexible trading fleets began to visit they found they could muscle into the Ming's trade network with relative ease. It would only be in the 1590s that restrictions were relaxed and general merchant activity was resumed, though the bureaucracy which came attached kept the merchants overly cautiously and relatively restricted to local seas.
The Emperors quickly came to terms with the new western traders, and the islands off the Pearl River Delta were earmarked for foreign trade factories whilst the rest of the extensive coastline was deemed off limits. But just to ensure no country would try and press further China has maintained a considerable defensive navy. As China was largely self-sufficient it needed little from western traders and therefore most payments were made in silver. Often this meant western goods would go to Tawantinsuyu or Mexica to be traded for silver bullion which was then shipped to the Pearl River. Dependency on silver would hamstring the Chinese economy and help bring down the Ming dynasty.
Just like the Yuan before them, economic and enviromental disaster spelled the end of the Ming dynasty. The so-called Little Ice Age caused famine and drought spurring revolts in the interior. Meanwhile the virtual cessation of silver exports from both Japan, which was becoming isolationist, and Mexica during the First Mexic-Leifian War disrupted the economy. The final Ming Emperor, Chongzhen, was also deeply paranoid and executed a considerable number of military commanders weakening the state's ability to deal with multiple threats. Anarchy would allow the Manchus to the north to take over the empire and establish the Qing dynasty.
Internal pacification led to China being able to look beyond its borders once again. In 1742 it would sign the Treaty of Harbin with Valdimir, finally ending a century of conflict which saw border tribes alternating between each side as they saw fit and repeated burnings of Vladimirian trading posts in Siberia. The treaty set out their respective spheres of influence and an agreement not to ally with the Caliphate against each other. In 1790 it would join the Second Mexic-Leifian War against Mexica, cementing its hold on a string of client states in western Leifia as well as helping to build good relations with the long-established powers in eastern Leifia.
Conflict and Instability
In 1878 the newly crowned Emperor Mianyu (Aicai) died, having ruled for only 4 months. A suitable husband for his only direct heir, his daughter Wenxian, had not yet been finalised and he had only just completed a purge of the high echelons of the military and bureaucracy. His closest male relatives jostled for the crown and paranoia gripped the Imperial City. With both untested administrators and generals vying to hold their new posts against those recently stripped of them, ill-will was in abundance. A series of bloody feuds led to a general exodus of talent from Beijing and the remaining Imperial candidates fled to raise armies from the periferies. Further assassinations reduced the claimants to three; Yizhu, now building a force out of Fujian in the south, Huizheng, rallying the Banners in the old Manchu heartlands and Zaitao, operating in Shaanxi. All three immediately claimed the hand of Wenxian in marriage but she was smuggled out of the Imperial City to Taiwan by a cabal of advisors.
The 'War of the Brothers' (though the three were distant cousins) would consume China for a decade and the stricken county was soon preyed upon by its smaller neighbours. First Japan with its western-style modernised army invaded Manchuria in 1879 (the First Sino-Japanese War) proving victorious over Huizheng at Harbin and Mudanjiang and effectively seizing control over the Korean Kingdom, the Amur River and rights over the whole coast from Korea to the Imakpik Strait in the process. This appeared to ruin Huizheng as a force to be reckoned with and Prince Zaitao moved against him in 1881 only to find the Manchu Banners were not broken.
A little later Viet Nam opportunistically intervened, wresting a revolting Yunnan (or Vân Nam as it would be styled) from the momentarily distracted Yizhu in 1884. Despite this setback Yizhu had profited from staying mostly aloof from Huizheng and Zaitao's struggle, building up a considerable war-chest and buying western-style drilling for his burgeoning armies in return for extending some of the Pearl River leases. In 1885 Yizhu began the destruction of his opponents in earnest, methodically razing forts and seizing cities. Finally in 1889 Yizhu and his semi-modernised army crushed the last of Huizheng's forces. He would receive the imperial throne and the era name Jinsekai.
It was only after Wenxian's death in 1899 that Taiwan formally came to accept Jinsekai's regime. The province's semi-official status had drawn attention from Japan, and the Second Sino-Japanese War (1893-1895) and Third Sino-Japanese War (1899) saw Japan attempt to seize Taiwan for itself. By this time however China had intitiated its own military reforms and was able to hold off the Japanese attacks.
The east momentarily secure, China turned westward, seeking to reimpose its authority over Tibet and Dzungaria which had shrugged off Qing control during the War of Three Brothers, and potentially the Himalayan nations of Nepal, Sikkim and Assam beyond. Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin were quickly subjugated in 1900 and a short war in 1902 secured authority over Tibet once more but further pushes southward were firmly rebuffed. Nepal and Assam would invade Tibet to support a revolt in 1917 and, pressured by a simultaneous war against Viet Nam, the province was given nominal independence which has so far held.
Viet Nam's control of Yunnan would be challenged twice, in 1916-17 and 1938-42. Both times Viet Nam's technical superiority and won out. Eventually during the Great Eastern War China would grudgingly reward Viet Nam for its neutrality by formally recognising its control of Yunnan, though it is no secret Beijing regards this agreement as up for negotiation.
The Great Eastern WarThe control which Japan exerted over Korea had been a source of dispute between China and Japan ever since the humilation doled out at Harbin and Mudanjiang in 1879. A revolt there in 1960 was brutally quashed by Japan and the entire entity was dissolved and annexed. Chinese agents supposedly had a hand in the assassination of various high-ranking officials, including members of the complicit Korean royal family, in early 1961. Whether or not this was true Chinese forces had been building for a while along the border and when Japan's ultimatum expired China invaded en masse almost overrunning the Liaodong peninsula before the Japanese rallied and fought back.
For six years the Chinese and Japanese armies butchered each other in dizzying numbers between the Daliao and Yalu Rivers, each making extensive use of trenches and the new barrel rifle machine guns; China buying Kalmar-produced 'Lagerlöf' guns, the Japanese using their own designs. Mostly Japanese technical superiority was kept in check by the larger Chinese army and several very talented generals.
The war also featured large-scale naval engagements with the Chinese navy making considerable use of submarines. They were still primitive and cumbersome and their short ranges still hampered their usefulness. However during the Battle of Yonaguni in 1965 six Chinese submarines fitted with state of the art 'torpedoes' sank three Japanese battleships.
In 1967 an international peace conference arranged a cease-fire which 'froze' the conflict. The cease-fire line which is internationally regarded as the border largely gave the Lioadong peninsula, aside from the fiercely defended Lüshunkou, to Japan whilst China kept hold of the Taga islands. Neither side regards this a 'final' treaty and observers assume an even more brutal war is likely in the near future as the two regimes continue to bait and goad each other.
Elsewhere both Tibet and Yunnan are regarded by Beijing as an integral parts of China, and the clamour for their return is steadily growing. Its huge population is sometimes regarded as a hinderance rather than a strength as poor harvest years can lead to devastating famines.
China is an absolute monarchy with no political parties or democratic process at all. It is governed by Imperial decree decided and advised by a small 'Grand Council'. The council has changed forms and location numerous times under the Qing dynasty as the emperors change governing styles and strategies. Under the Yongye Emperor this council, Grand Council of the Southern Study, is the largest council yet seen in China, made up of 24 princes from all around China and representing many minority peoples.
Laws are enacted by a vast army of 'mandarins' taksed with implementing across the huge country. The bureaucracy is regarded as over-elaborate and wasteful by western standards though it has defeated several attempts by the Council to reform it.
Reports of the vast wealth available in central Leifia led Admiral Zhang He to lead a fleet eastwards across the Roasjoinn in 1420. They reached the sparsely populated Leifian coast rather than Mexica which they were aiming for and the voyage turned out to be an expensive fiasco which almost cost Zhang He his head. Smaller-scale trading links would arise as the coast slowly developed and the Chinese-run port of Lingyu within the Great Bay was established in 1694 to help focus trade. The port's administration would eventually take over the government of the surrounding Patwin kingdom as a power vaccuum appeared in the 1730s. The province of 'Chinese Leifia' is autonomous and despite occasional disputes with the more established nations of Leifia has been instrumental in restraining Mexic ambitions.
Faced with a sudden boom in traders from European and Leifian countries in the 17th century China sought to protect its borders and own trading network by keeping the newcomers at a distance. As a result it began leasing out the mostly then-uninhabited islands around the Pearl River delta to whichever foreign merchants would sign. Whilst Chinese merchants would control the actual movement of goods from the mainland to the various islands the foreign presence ensured a steady stream of western goods even when its own internal politics disrupted the flow of Chinese-traded items. Corruption is sadly rife but the local administrators and imperial mandarins tend to turn a blind eye to it as long as they are paid regularly. Technically China retains ownership of the islands but in practice they are governed as sovereign territory of the lease-holders. China has only ever reappropriated an island on one occasion, stripping Mexica of Xiaowanshan Dao during the Second Mexic-Leifian War