The Empire of China (Mandarin:中國帝國, Zhonghua Diguo) ,the shortened name otherwise known as the Middle Kingdom of the Great Qing is one of two independent nations based from Asia along with the Ottoman Empire. China is the head of the wider East- Asian Confederation and The Chinese Colonial Empire. The ruling Qing Dynasty that has ruled China since 1644 is the latest incarnation of a series of eras for the oldest surviving civilization in the world. In contrast to most European based empires, China by itself has more people than the wider empire. Being formed as an absolute monarchy it has sense transitioned to administrative representation which grants limited political rights to the majority of the population. China's economy is supported by its own vast diversity in landscapes and natural resources with additional materials being imported from its colonies. China is also the only imperial seat within the Global Security Conference to not hold some form of Christianity as its official religion. Buddhism instead is the official religion with Confucianism being the official "thought" of the state's secular affairs.
China, under the reigns of the Qing Dynasty and the Manchu people entered modern times, as the most populous, country and the largest economy on earth. As the only classical civilization to survive intact into modern times, In the 18th century China's character differed from the world's other superpowers- all of which were European and most of which were sea based. Until the rise of European Exploration, Chinese civilization was the most advanced in the world for thousands of years irrespective of what happened elsewhere. Large and strong she was self sustaining, without the immediate need to explore, much less colonize outside of East Asia. Even within her sphere of influence China led more by example than by force. A diplomatic system revolving around the imperial emperors put adjacent countries into tributary status. Nations such as Manchuria, Tibet, Korea, and Vietnam often gravitated to Chinese culture as a choice but, China's direct influence ended here. With few exceptions, China neglected opportunities to project power over far away places. When Europeans began to explore the wider world, the native Chinese Ming Dynasty grew ever more inward, banning oceangoing voyages and closing major port cities. Extreme isolationism led to economic collapse and the emergence of Qing Manchu leadership. Over the 1700's the Qing restored order and the country underwent an era of prosperity. While less isolated than previous regimes the early Qing still retained ancient policies, China continued to stagnate despite enjoying security and economic growth.
The First Reforms
Government officials with connections to western people were the first to engineer the modern state. Old China while ruled by emperors depended on a massive bureaucracy, with politics being based on the ideas of groups of government employees. The School of Practical Learning persuaded the Qing royal family to explore western scientific and technological advancements. Countering resistance from traditionalists officials argued that learning from outsiders was well in lines with Confucian morals if it spurred people's prosperity, and practical learning was not just correct but a necessity to serve the emperor with the best diligence. Led by the ambitious bureaucrat Zhao Jintu the school lobbied for the Qianlong's emperor support to construct new western style academies in military technology, engineering and natural science. Jintu, was a practical idealist, knowing how to navigate court politics to successfully push for change. In the 1780's Jintu organized a trip for fifty of his friends and students to visit Great Britain, the Netherlands and the fledgling United Provinces of America for five years. Their visit was akin to that of Marco Polo's medieval trip to China in creating cultural exchange between China and West, unfortunately upon their return Jintu had been forced into exile by an aging emperor. reactionary officials waged a campaign to keep practical learning affiliates from having any power. An embassy in 1795 from the British greatly interested the Practical Learning School but they were unable to take action on their own behalf
Upon the retirement of Qianlong in 1795, reform officials found their opportunity to influence the new emperor Jiaqing,who they had befriended in earlier years. Though initially a conservative Qianlong became convinced that innovation was a possible solution to the empire's problems. Local revolts became catalysts for change, using models brought by the British earlier the Qing government started manufacturing rifles for his banner armies. Crushing rebels in their wake, Jintu urged economic reforms were necessary to quell the people and to halt the trading deficit with British India
A turning point came in 1810 with the rise of Ching Shih the pirate queen and her Red Flag fleet, numbering in the tens of thousands and visibly unbeatable. Admirals were eager to test their new fleet which had been in construction for a decade, An elderly Jintu suggested cooperation with the British East India Company was necessary to overturn the pirates. The coordination was dramatic as this was the first time China officially dealt with a foreign power on equal terms. Mutually the two allied fleets narrowly prevailed over Shih, paving the way for future British-Chinese relations.
Opening the Jade Gate
As the movement for reform grew School for Practical Learning splintered between diverging opinions (1) dragons, those who favored only military reform and (2) tigers those who envisioned far reaching changes to turn China into an industrial market economy. Changes, came slowly as most ordinary Chinese living away from the coast had yet to be effected by bureaucratic maneuvers.
The special relationship with the British continued to define the reform period. The interests of the military and China's economy clashed with each other in the short term. China made its first serious foreign intervention in the East Indies, defeating the Dutch in the Sino-Dutch war. Prior to that time the Netherlands had been violating the traditional Chinese sphere of influence in her coastal waters and violating existing trade rules in ports. Britain armed the Chinese navy with up to date naval guns and training in return for special concessions. The operation was a military success, being the first time China defeated a European country internationally. Victory against Europeans came at a great cost of treasure and lives, modernization and increased British trade strained the society and the government.
As wealth floated away towards Europe, a troupe of victorious commanders influenced by tigers recognized the potential of the Dutch East Indies. Centuries of spice plantations presented opportunity for Chinese to take charge of the international trading economy. Rather than continuing to sell goods to overseas European companies the East Indies would be used as a base to sell to international consumers cutting middlemen such as the British East India Company. With moderate support by authorities China's first trading company- The Southern Seas bought Britain's spoils from the Dutch war to circumvent the European domination of maritime commerce. Spice grown by local Indonesian natives, and then finished in Chinese seaports would then be shipped to all British cities around the world,
The early 20th century
As a global partner
Politics and Government
China is divided into 29 provinces and two integrated protectorates (marked in green):
Kedah | Kelantan | Maguindanao | Mongolia | Perak | Sulu | Terengganu | Tibet
Ethiopia | Madagascar | Witu | Zanzibar
China | Mongolia | Tibet
Chinese Antarctic Territory | Chinese East-Indies | Chinese East-Africa | Chinese Polynesia