What about ’em?
Oh, you mean in the story.
Caution: This digression is entirely political and right-wing in nature, and will likely offend Democrats, Progressives, Socialists, and Communists (but I repeat myself three times). Not that I care. And not that you’ve likely read this far if you are of that persuasion; I’m going to guess you dropped out around the time I mentioned exiling all the RIFs to another planet and threatening to drop Rods from God on Iran, way back in “Time Will Tell”. If you did, you’re a pussy and I’m glad you fucked off. Otherwise, welcome to more Timelines back story.
Well, in the story, after 2020 or so, Russia is pretty much out of the Big Power stakes. As it is anyway, in “real life” 2020, regardless of anything Tsarevitch Pootie Boy is saying or doing desperately to hang on.
In my opinion (and I do have a bachelor’s degree in History, and most of a master’s split between American Diplomatic and what amounts to American Military History), fracking, loud Trumpian shouting at the Europeans to stop them buying into Gazprom’s latest gas pipeline scheme, walking out of Syria leaving Russia holding the bag, and the continuing embargoes on just about anything to do with Iran, have pretty much backed Putin into a corner. He’s no longer got a navy of any real consequence; his last aircraft carrier caught on fire not long ago, and sank at dockside, while the only floating dry dock he’s got that’s big enough to refloat her is likewise damaged and unlikely to be repaired any time soon. He was using mercenaries in Syria near the beginning of 2017, said mercenaries taking a hell of a beating on from the Americans when they tried to cross a bridge they were told in no uncertain terms not to cross. Russia also got a “late entry” card into the Winnie-The-Flu sweepstakes (if in fact they weren’t simply lying about spread, or the lack thereof, in March and April 2020), and frankly I suspect Putin has plenty to deal with internally, without facing the wrath of President Trump for any imperial intentions he may wish to express externally.
But nobody cares about the Russians anymore.
China is asshole. Never trust China.
Everybody ought to be caring about China.
While Russia bumbled around trying and failing to influence the 2016 election in the US (they were all in for Clinton, you know, not Trump), China actually did a fair to middlin’ job of sneaking around behind the scenes and pretending to be nice while actually taking over as much supply chain and so forth as it could, just as it has been doing for the last thirty years. Their Belt and Road Initiative is intended to place most of Western Asia and Africa under their thrall through economic peonage. Of late, many leaders of countries in that region have been catching on to this ploy, and are making strenuous efforts to extricate themselves from China’s clutches. China also tried and failed to get its mitts on Long Beach Terminal via a purchase by its state-owned shipping company COSCO. The purchase was of the owner of the long-term terminal lease, Orient Overseas International Limited (OOIL), in 2017. And the Trump Administration in 2018 required OOIL to divest itself of the terminal lease as it was a national security issue for China to be controlling its operations. OOIL therefore sold the terminal lease in 2019 to Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (an Australian company).
(Who approved selling OOIL to the Chinese in the first place? The corrupt Obama Administration, in 2012.)
But this is not the first or only port worldwide of which China has managed to purchase control. It controls at least 13 ports in Europe as well, and is undoubtedly in negotiations to purchase control of others around the world.
Moreover, China has something called the “Made In China 2025” initiative, which is a strategic plan to turn China into more than a cheap junk factory and move it into higher-cost, higher-quality goods and services. Which of course they wish to control . . . so they can control the world’s economy. Even the Europeans have figured out this is a Bad Idea, and it’s most of what’s behind President Trump’s trade war, tariffs, and his more recent calls to repatriate American manufacturing from China and thereby decouple our supply chains from Chinese control and meddling.
Finally, it’s clear that SARS-CoV-2, or Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, or as I like to call it, the WuFlu, Winnie-The-Flu, or the Chinese Virus, regardless of whether it was being produced as a biological warfare agent or was honestly being studied as a new example of coronavirus, got loose from the lab in Wuhan sometime in the early fall of 2019 . . . and the Chinese said and did nothing about it, even as cases started to mount and even Chinese doctors began to get on edge about exactly what it was they were dealing with. There appears to have been an intentional effort to keep news about the new virus quiet while planes carrying up to 20,000 Chinese travelers per week were flying back and forth from China to destinations in the West. Whether or not this intentional effort was at the direct orders of President/Emperor Xi, it was mind-numbing in its blatant intent to infect the rest of the world with China’s virus, rather than to report quickly to WHO so that the virus could be contained with the help of the rest of the world. The latter would have been embarrassing to China’s pride, you see.
Fuck China’s pride. Fuck China.
So to jump from real life to fiction, the reason I postulate in my story that the Americans pulverize Beijing from space in early 2037, using “Rods from God” or the type of kinetic-kill weapons Jerry Pournelle theorized about for the defunct Project Thor many years ago, is because after the WuFlu in 2020 and other general assholishness over the years connected with China, China has now attempted to influence an American election by subverting, of all things, Wikipedia. This fails, but the new (Republican) president isn’t having any of that shit, and she orders a sneak KKW attack on Beijing with the intent of decapitating the PRC. I don’t mention it, but there are other simultaneous attacks on various PRC missile sites that help prevent a retaliatory strike. This sits just fine with the American public, who by and large, since the Long Beach Nuke, have had just about enough of being Mr. Nice World Policeman. A liberal application of the World Policeman’s billy club to countries who act against the best interests of the rest of the world seems warranted. (As it does today, in real life, but that’s not going to happen. I think. Ask me again after November 2020.)
In the end, though, China breaks up into four “countries”:
- North China
- South China
- Taiwan (already independent but now fully recognized as such)
- West China
North China is simply what’s left of the PRC – Hebei, Shandong, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces. Still quasi-communist, really just a thug-run statist kleptocracy, still run not particularly well by what’s left of the CCP. Inner Mongolia province has been claimed by Mongolia and is a hot spot, as neither country really has the military assets to enter and hold it against the other. South China views North China as mostly a buffer between itself, North Korea, and Russia. Shenyang in Liaoning province is the new capital.
South China is pretty much everything south of that, and then west to a line roughly running from Xian to Chengdu to Chongqing and then south to the Vietnamese border. This encompasses Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu, Hubei, Jiangxi, Zhejiang, Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi, Fujian, and Guangdong provinces. It also contains the eastern part of Sichuan province (the flatland areas); West China encroaches eastward into all of the western mountainous areas in Sichuan. South China’s capital is Shanghai and most of the population is on the coast. The inland areas stagnate and become very poor again. The coastal cities are huge, densely populated, and a pandemic waiting to happen. It is, however, capitalist, business-promoting, and very libertarian, which is difficult for some of its people to internalize for the first couple of generations. It is probably more Hong Kong than Hong Kong, which will likely become part of it, eventually.
Everything to the west is West China. And West China is mostly an enigma. At first, it is the part of China that breaks away and becomes a Caliphate centered around Urumqi in Xinjiang. There is a great killing of ethnic Chinese in that area, at least, those who do not flee back to the east. However, the Caliphate is short-lived because it is one of the first areas pacified by the US Space Force Marines and its population transported to Sanddoom. West China then becomes a no-man’s land for a number of years until it is jointly occupied by Pakistan, India, and Mongolia, which intend to turn it into a populated region again (and to act as a buffer state against Russia, which is rebuffed when it tries to ingratiate itself into the three-way occupation).
Other changes include:
- Tibet is ceded back to the Tibetans, who immediately begin a civil war between the followers of the Dalai Lama and, well, everybody else who doesn’t want Tibet to be a theocracy
- Hong Kong and Macau are created Free Cities and are no longer under Chinese hegemony, which may or may not last – as noted above, they may find it politically and financially prudent to join South China, possibly as a southern capital. Or not.
- The South China Sea is renamed the Southeast Asian Sea, while the East China Sea is renamed the East Asian Sea
- All of the small islands and island chains invaded by the PRC are ceded back to their original claimants
In case it’s not obvious, I don’t like China, and I firmly believe it needs to be split up and its people given a chance to live free. If it takes wiping one of its largest cities off the map to accomplish that, so be it.