China today is now a regional power in Asia with some (rather erroneously) referring it as the "next superpower", and it is hard to imagine a China without the legacy of the likes of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. We all know historically that the Communists under Mao Zedong routed the Nationalists under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek to the island of Taiwan (or Formosa), and that the People's Republic of China and Taiwan have shaky cross-strait relations, but it didn't have to be this way.

The proclamation of the People's Republic of China was hardly inevitable. There were several ways that the Republic of China could have secured its place in the world, with one PoD revolving around miltiary strongman Yuan Shikai. What if Yuan Shikai wasn't so delusional as to try to found his own dynasty? What if Yuan Shikai had a longer life and remained an ordinary military dictator? What would this world look like with China still singing the 'Song to the Auspicious Cloud'?

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