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China (universally known by the Chinese characters "秦亜" - but called various names such as Qínyà (Mandarin), Zing6ia5 (Wu), Ceon4aa3 (Jyut), Cin2a1 (Hakka) in various Chinese nations) is a cultural region of East Asia. Today, it is largely synonomous with the ten Chinese Union nations of Gan, Gwong, Han Zhuang, Hokkien, Hong Kong, Jonggwo, Macau, Wu, Yue, and Yunnan. However, the idea of China existed long before the current Chinese Union was formed. The name comes from the Qin Dynasty, which united China for a time.
Chinese culture is distinct. There are major linguistic differences between the Chinese and surrounding peoples such as the Koreans, Japanese, Manchurians, Viet, Thai, Tibetans, and others. However, as a dominant culture for millennia, it has impacted surrounding cultures to a great extent. China is the origin of many inventions that are now part and parcel of modern life. Although there has been turmoil from time to time, China has never completely lost its prestige and today continues to be one of the grandest civilizations in the world, with high living standards and dynamic economies.
Ancient China was one of the earliest centers of human civilization. Chinese civilization was also one of the few to invent writing independently, the others being Mesopotamia, Ancient India (Indus Valley Civilization), Maya Civilization, Ancient Greece (Minoan Civilization), and Ancient Egypt.
The first unified Chinese state was established by the short-lived Qin Dynasty in 221 BCE, and this is what gives China its name to this day. The subsequent Han Dynasty ruled China between 206 BCE and 220 CE, and created a lasting Han cultural identity among its populace that would also last to the present day. Many things Chinese have the character for "Han" (漢/汉) in them. For example, the "Hanzi" (Chinese character) writing system literally means "Han characters".
After Han's collapse, another period of disunion followed, including the highly chivalric period of the Three Kingdoms. Independent Chinese states of this period also opened diplomatic relations with Japan, introducing the Chinese writing system there. It was during this time that Emperor Wu of Liang (梁武帝) founded the Liang Dynasty, which lasted from 502 BCE to 726 BCE. The Liang Dynasty, while only controlling a certain area of China, is still thought of as a golden age, espeicially as far as philosophy goes. Emperor Wu created universities and extending the Confucian civil service exams, demanding that sons of nobles study. He was well read himself and wrote poetry and patronized the arts. Although for governmental affairs he was Confucian in values, he embraced Buddhism as well. He himself was attracted to many Indian traditions. He banned the sacrifice of animals and was against execution. Emperor Wu was a vegetarian, himself, and was a major disseminator of vegetarian around China at that time. He was also a monastic for a brief period of time. It was said that he received the Five Precepts and the Bodhisattva Precepts during his reign, earning him the nickname The Bodhisattva Emperor. The strong emphasis on nonviolence to all creatures (and hence, vegetarianism) spread quickly throughout China and abroad to places such as Korea and Japan, and is now the largest branch of Buddhism in the world, known as "Liang Buddhism" - a sub-branch of Mahayana Buddhism. Emperor Wu, originally too trusting of corrupt officials, eventually realized his error and banished them, instituting a more rigorous selection process for officials, which tested for also for elements of morality and humility. Thus, the Liang Dynasty flourished in peace for a long time. Its capital was what is now Nanjing. Eventually, in 726 CE, the Liang Dynasty collapsed and the Tang Dynasty to the west filled the vacuum.
Under the succeeding Tang and Song dynasties, Chinese technology and culture reached its zenith. In the years between Tang and Song rule, however, various new political entities developed. These included Wuyue (which was the predecessor to modern Yue, as well as Min (the predecessor to modern Hokkien. These smaller states were largely incorporated into the Song Dynasty, but kept their individual cultures. At the end of the Song Dynasty, many of these areas would again declare their independence and many would continue to be independent up to the present day. During the Song Dynasty, there were increasingly major battles with the northern barbarians. First, there was a large force of Jurchens (later known as Manchurians) that was only barely repelled from taking northern China away from Song control. Later, in 1211, the Song Dynasty was attacked by the Mongols, who were unified as never before. The Song Chinese, through both bribes and huge military actions (allied with the Tanguts) split up the Mongol union. The end of the Mongols came in 1212 when their leader, Temujin (known as Genghis Khan), was captured alive by the Song army. Genghis Khan was dragged to death along the ground by the galloping horses he was tied to, and his battered, dead body was catapulted over to a group of Mongols. Over the next few decades, the Song Dynasty would push up farther into Mongolia and conquer most of it. At this point, many Buddhists thought that the actions taken by the Song Dynasty were too harsh. In return, the Song Dynasty started to turn more towards Neo-Confucianism rather than Buddhism and Daoism. The thinking was that only harsh retaliatory actions would ward off further attacks, and being too soft would result in a much worse calamity - perhaps the violent deaths of millions. This is why Buddhism was not appropriate for the ruling class, or so the theory went. However, this distancing of opinions from much of the populace would eventually alienate many of the people from their government. In 1368, after particularly ineffective and harsh rule towards its own people, the Song Dynasty collapsed.
The Ming Dynasty took the song Dynasty's place in the north, in what is now Jonggwo and Wu. However, during the break-up of the Song, the southern nations declared their independence. New states, now known as Wuyue, Hokkien, Gan, and Gwong were created. The first Ming Emperor decreed that the northern barbarians were a threat to the Ming Dynasty and should be actively defended against, while war should not be made with the largely non-threatening southern nations. And more war from the North was to come eventually. While the southern naitions remained more or less stable, the Ming had to deal with the newly-coined "Manchu", who had been previously known as the Jurchens. They had come down from the north and had completely overcome the Mongols. Thus, Manchuria became a danger to the Ming to the south. The Ming reacted by sending huge armies to the north to conquer the Manchurians. In the end, the both the Ming and Manchurian empires were weakened to a great degree, and the Ming Dynasty collapsed in 1682 due to a major nonviolent movement which yet ground economic activity (minus agriculture) to a halt.
The head of the nonviolent movement established the Ping Dynasty (平朝; Pinyin: Píng Cháo) in 1682. The Ping Dynasty harkened back to the Liang Dynasty of some 1,000 years prior, particularly due to its emphasis on peace. Buddhism and Daoism saw a resurgence, along with an especially pronounced admiration for the goddess "Guan Yin". These ideas had largely flowed in from the more secure southern nations, where centuries of peace had prevailed. It was most likely able to take a hold during northern China's Ping Dynasty both because of the Dynasty's greater acceptance of Buddhism and the more newly arrived Jainism, and also because the lack of imminent outside threats for the time being let the more peaceable ideas become more prominent. During the Ping Dynasty, greater contacts were made with India and other major kingdoms and nations, and more ideas flowed in from the outside world. Also at around this time, contact with the Occident was beginning in earnest. Back during the late Ming Dynasty, in 1670, the Portuguese had leased Macau from Gwong. Netherish influence had reached the island of Taiwan by 1624, although it had been sighted by the Portuguese and called "Ilha Formosa" back in 1544. During and after the Netherish occupation, Hoklos from Hokkien and Hakkas from Gan, in particular, settled on the west coast of Taiwan. Despite the 1841 British Invasion of the formerly Gwong territory of Hong Kong, European-Chinese relations were generally very good, and trading was brisk. Northern China, during the Ping Dynasty, also began to modernize after it realized that China's isolationism during the Ming Dynasty had held it back from progressing its technology to the same extent as the outside world had. China had entered a new golden age of internal peace, external security, and progress. This was to last, more or less, until 1912, when the idea of democracy - blooming throughout the southern Chinese nations over the past century, finally won out in the North. A nonviolent movement sprung up, promoting democracy, and the Ping Dynasty ended the way it began, through nonviolent resitance. The last Ping Emperor stepped down and free elections began. The Republic of China was born.
Republic of China
The Republic of China has endured in at least some form to this day, although currently as the state of Wu. After democracy was achieved in 1912, the Republic of China went about further modernizations. It was also during this time that Shanghai of Yue became the most prosperous city in the Far East. However, in the Republic of China, partly due to its large area and population, this new prosperity was very uneven, promoting some grievances from the more rural populations. A rural Communist rebellion commenced in the early 1930s. Also in the 1930s, the Republic had major disputes with Japan. Japan, a more technologically modernized nation that was investing heavily in China, did not show much respect for Chinese laws and thus was banned from doing business in the Republic. This, along with Japan's superiority complex and desire for territorial expansion led to the declaration of war in 1939 on the Republic first, and then the other Chinese nations soon thereafter. Dalian was taken quickly and the Japanese war machine spread quickly. At home, many Japanese Buddhists, vegetarians and human-rights advocates tried to halt the war by massive protests. Retribution was swift, and not only were these Japanese people persecuted - many staying in prison until the war's end - but the Japanese started a terror campaign overseas among vegetarians, Buddhists, and other progressives that were felt to be weak and liberal, and yet a threat to militarism and State-Shintoism, which was being promogulated at the time.
After Japan's defeat in 1946, the Communist uprising took advantage of the weak Republican government and took Beijing and most of northern China. The Republicans moved south and set up their provisional capital at Nanjing. Eventually, the border between the Communists and Republicans became the border between modern Jonggwo and Wu, as the Republic of China eventually changed its name to Wu. Jonggwo initially pursued a policy of isolationism and restrained hostility to the outside world, and in particular Wu. After tensions cooled between the two nations, the idea to create a Chinese Union was put forward by Jonggwo and Wu. The Chinese Union is today a mutual defense pact along with economic, environmental, and cultural preservation resolutions that all nations in it abide by. Eventually, 10 nations became part of the Chinese Union.
Major Changes from OTL
- Liang Dynasty stronger, and vegetarianism and Buddhism gain much more strength.
- Foot-binding never comes into existence.
- Genghis Khan killed, and Mongols never gain power.
- The Manchurians take over Mongolia, but do not set up the Qing Dynasty in China.
- Nonviolent mass protests against the Ming Dynasty lead to a "Ping Dynasty".
- Nonviolent mass protests lead to a democracy, the Republic of China.
- The Republic of China becomes Wu.
- The area referred to as China is both smaller and contains more independent states.
Excerpts from Wikipedia were used in this article.