The year is 2028.
Angered by excessive taxes raised to support the economy in the poorer provinces after the Great Crash of ‘25, Shanghai’s government declares itself an autonomous region.
Shanghai’s party cadres push the idea of a federal China, governed by stronger regional governments who have the ability to define their own laws and taxation systems. At its head is Xu Binglei, Party Secretary of Shanghai, who has been passed over time and time again for a Politburo position due to his non-alignment with the Jiang Zemin circle that has ruled China ever since Xi Jinping.
A round table is set up between the central government in Beijing and Xu Binglei to work out the issues. It quickly becomes clear however, that Xu has no intent to find an amicable solution to the problem, but is merely stalling for time.
In all major newspapers, Xu Binglei is branded as a traitor to the country and a capitalist, while in Shanghai, propaganda is pushed through on local internet channels showcasing Xu as a hero that has returned its independence to Shanghai, cutting loose the dragging chain of the less developed provinces that have held it behind.
When over a month has passed, and the international press has begun to make a ridicule of the situation, China’s General Secretary of the Communist Party calls up the generals in Nanjing, and asks them to move troops towards Shanghai and take control. To his utter surprise, the troops begin to move, but instead of going East, they line up North along the border with Shandong Province. It is an official declaration of war.
Beijing discovers that Xu has been simultaneously holding talks with nearby provinces. Nanjing’s government comes out in support of Shanghai, in a tri-alliance between Shanghai, Jiangsu province (in which is Nanjing) and Zhejiang province (the richest in China).
Anhui province however, refuses to align with the separatists, and its government in Hefei issues statement after statement denouncing the traitors. Nanjing moves a portion of its troops to take over the part of Anhui east of the Yangtze, hence consolidating the tri-alliance.
As Beijing begins to move troops South to try and quell the uprising, separatists in Xinjiang take advantage of the situation and jump into the streets. A purge of government officials and Han residents immediately follows, creating a swell of refugees in Qinghai and Gansu before the government can even begin to respond – not to mention that its best troops are stuck in Shandong and about to engage the Nanjing military.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Chou Ansun, a minor official in the Hong Kongnese government who had taken part in the student protests over a decade ago (and vowed to change things from the inside) takes advantage of the complete chaos to stage a coup. Reaching out to a few select friends in the military police, he takes over the seat of government and emprisons all Beijing cronies. Hong Kongers take to the street to roar their approval, and his televised appearance, broadcast from the summit of Victoria’s peak, resounds around the world: Hong Kong is independent once again.
Beijing is in chaos. Rumors and speculation are rife that a hardliner faction has emerged within the ranks of the Politburo, intent on nuking Shanghai to send a message.
When troops engage along the border between Shandong and Jiangsu, the result is catastrophical. Hundreds of thousands die, and a no-man’s land is quickly created as smaller factions hunker down in bunkers. The tri-alliance is focused on holding the line, often choosing strong defensive positions that Beijing cannot overtake without severe loss of human life.
Tibet tries to stage a coup as well, but fails due to the fact that local governments are on high alert, and that after 40 years of forced immigration, there are simply far more Han Chinese than Tibetans in Tibet. India, however, decides to reclaim the land it has lost, meter by meter, over the last twenty years by sending what it calls a “stability mission”. In all international communication, it states it merely wants to help the embattled Beijing government. On the ground however, Indian martial law is in effect.
Hong Kong is attentively observing the tri-alliance – if it falls, it knows Hong Kong is next. In order to create a buffer, Chou Ansun reaches out to Guangdong and Guangxi province, linked not only by geographical proximity but by a common language: Cantonese. Guangxi refuses the alliance, but Guangdong, and its key cities Guangzhou and Shenzhen, who have faced the same outrageous taxation system as Shanghai, decide to join up with Hong Kong in forming the Free Cantonese States.
Violence in Xinjiang has reached its height, and begins to spill out into neighboring provinces. Years of brutal repression have created a spirit of revenge that only now is unleashed upon China. Refugees head desperately either south, to Sichuan, or east and north, towards Beijing, adding additional stress to Beijing’s current territories.
The Tri-alliance, the Free Cantonese States and India quickly reach an uneasy alliance against Beijing. Only Separatist Xinjiang refuses to deal with them, simply stating that: “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, a cat is still a cat.” – a subtle play on a well-known proverb that indicates they will deal with no Chinese, whether they are with Beijing or against it.
All agree that to truly topple Beijing and gain their independence, they need another front of attack i.e. have another province declare against the central government. They subtly dispatch emissary after emissary to Chengdu and Chongqing, hoping to convert the center of China into a new front.
China’s Guoan Bu, the domestic secret service, intercepts and executes most of them. Through torture, they gain an understanding of the goals intended, and quickly initiate a purge among Chengdu and Chongqing’s Party ranks, leaving only the most radical followers of Beijing. The cities are shocked, but pacified – they will remain allied to Beijing.
Salvation for the Tri-Alliance and the Free Cantonese States comes from a different source: Taiwan. The Taiwanese president, elected from the opposition party after the increasing economic ties built by the ruling party with the mainland created massive unemployment, is a great Chiang Kai Shek believer. As such, he espouses a concept that seems outdated to most – and incredibly relevant to the time: real China is Taiwan, and they will return to the mainland.
Fujian had consistently declared itself a Beijing supporter in this combat, refusing to align with either the Tri-Alliance or the Cantonese Free States. It had stacked its borders with the military factions it could find, but did not expect the invasion to come… from the sea.
Taiwan makes a surprisingly effective push, conquering both Fujian and Jiangxi, before having to stop: the Tri-Alliance front is crumbling, Beijing is about to push past, and Xu is desperately begging everyone for reinforcements. Taiwan decides to lend a hand, bringing with it some of the best-trained military in the region, and the very best of technology.
The support from Taiwan leads the Tri-alliance to a decisive win. Finally, international relations know which side to back. The US calls out for its long-term ally Taiwan, offering heavy support in a new Lend/Lease program. The Tri-Alliance, the Free Cantonese States and Taiwan hammer out a secret deal (known ever-after as the Blue Teacup Treaty, after the color of the chinaware used by the participants), to split China amongst themselves. To the Tri-Alliance goes the North, to Taiwan the center, and to the Free Cantonese States, Guangxi, Hainan and Yunnan. All agree that Tibet and Xinjiang can be left to whoever wants them.
The ride to Beijing is terrifying to see. Troops flee and are crushed under constant air-support from American aircraft carriers. Enemy troops are captured and treated humanely, while Shanghai’s Xu has given strict commands to be incredibly courteous to the civilians – this will all be Shanghai’s eventually, and the support of the local population will be necessary.
Right as the Tri-Alliance and Taiwanese troops near Beijing, the news falls: the General Secretary and the Premier of the Chinese Communist Party have just been overthrown. The radicalist faction within the party has taken over.
When asked to surrender the city, they send out one single ominous message: ‘The CCP will live for ten thousand years,’ and cut off all communications.
From the hill overlooking Beijing on which the Central Tri-Alliance command has set up its mobile headquarters, soldiers look on in frightened awe as missiles tear up from the ground and rocket across the sky.
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