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Special thanks to Riction, Nick, Dan, Marc, and many others.
The An-Shi Rebellion
An Lushan, a general of China of Turkic descent, was in charge of 3 garrisons in the Tang Dynasty's northern regions of Pinglu, Fanyang and Hedong. However, this power went to his head. He had 164,000 men strong and using the absence of troops stationed at the palace would use this as the chink in the armor of the government & take over. *Here*, he caught a disease in the barracks from the men. He was in in 50s at this time, a ripe age in 753 CE. He died the week the rebellion was supposed to take place. His cohorts took this as a sign from above and abandoned their plan for their domination of China. This means 224 million survive, making China even more populated then it is now.
In this world, there is no transition after the Tang until the Song Dynasty in 960 CE. The Tang made China basically the golden boy of the world's economy, easily beating both the empires of Rome & Muhammed. It needs to feed its growing population, so it invades Vietnam, taking it all by 800. It really did not use its military to take over, but its colonists to take over Vietname by basically, taking powerful positions and breeding the natives out. They twisted the kings of Vietnams' arms using their economy because without Chinese goods, their rice would be useless.