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The Chinese Federation is a fictional superpower appearing in the anime 'Code Geass'. This article refers to that superpower as it appears in Juubi-K's fanfictions One and Only Son and The Shattered Mosaic.

Geography[]

In real-world terms, the Chinese Federation consists of China, India, the whole of South Asia excluding Iran, and the whole of Central and South-East Asia, excluding the Phillipines. It's northern border reaches up to Lake Baikal, and includes portions of what in real life is Russian territory, notably Vladivostok.

Politics[]

Tianzi[]

The official ruler of the Chinese Federation is the Emperor or Empress, usually dubbed 'Tianzi'. This office is a variation on that of the traditional Chinese Emperors, and retains much of its tradition and protocol; albeit having evolved somewhat compared to earlier dynasties.

By tradition, the Emperor resides in the Vermillion Forbidden City, on the north bank of the Luo River, directly opposite the capital city of Luoyang. A vast palace complex the size of a small city in its own right, the Forbidden City combines the role of Imperial residence and administrative hub; its architecture and features a curious blend of the ancient and the modern. From within its outer walls, the highest scholar-officials oversee the running of the Chinese Federation, and its military commanders plan the defence of the nation, and the destruction of its enemies. Within the inner palace, and the gardens behind, the Imperial household resides in hidden splendour.

For all their supposedly absolute power, the Tianzi of the past half-century have been powerless children, kept imprisoned within the inner Forbidden City for their entire lives; and displaying an unfortunate tendency to die young. If they are seen at all, it is only in official artwork, or on particularly special occasions. The current Tianzi is a young girl named Jiang Lihua, whose origins are a mystery.

Grand Eunuchs[]

The real power within the palace, and the whole of the Chinese Federation, are the Grand Eunuchs. Ostensibly the personal servants and attendants of Tianzi, their duty is to educate, serve, and assist Tianzi in any way they can; a position they shamelessly exploit to rule China for themselves.

The practice of creating eunuch servants is an ancient one in China, serving a variety of functions. The obvious one is to prevent hanky-panky between servants and female members of the Imperial family, thus preventing the production of illegitimate children. It also served to create servants who depended upon the Emperor for their very survival; as eunuchs were generally regarded as freaks and outcasts. This fed into popular resentment towards the Grand Eunuchs; as their power and influence seemed a complete upsetting of the natural order. This in turn, ironically, fed into the generally contemptuous attitude of the eunuchs towards the general population. Contempt bred contempt.

The Grand Eunuchs have enjoyed their current power over China for more than half a century. Thanks to their control of the Imperial household, they could place children on the Dragon Throne and rule in their stead, disposing of them when they became unmanageable. They also use this authority to arrange the appointment of loyal allies, blackmailed pawns, and ignorant dupes into positions of authority within the government; further cementing their power, at the cost of allowing incompetence and corruption to flourish.

Their attitude towards Tianzi, especially noticeable in the case of Jiang Lihua, is one of Orwellian doublethink. She is on the one hand their Celestial Sovereign, who must be denied nothing and whose will must be obeyed. On the other hand, she is also a helpless, ignorant young girl whom they must manipulate into remaining silent and obedient. If the illusion upon which they depend for their power and position is to be maintained, then both viewpoints must coexist without conflict or even acknowledgement.

Administration[]

In theory, the Legislature for the whole of China is the Grand Council in Luoyang; consisting of representatives of all the Provincial Councils. Their responsibilities include approving the appointment of Viceroys, Provincial Governors, and the most senior military commanders. In practice, however, the Grand Council exists as a rubber-stamp for the decrees of the Grand Eunuchs.

The highest officials below the Grand Council are the Viceroys (zongdu), also known as governor-generals. Viceroys have authority over multiple Provinces, with their territories corresponding to the Military Regions. Below this, the largest formal subdivision is the Province (sheng), followed by Prefectures (fu) then Subprefectures (zhou) and finally Counties (xian). Provinces are controlled by civilian governors (xunfu), with Prefectures controlled by Prefects (zhifu), Subprefectures controlled by Subprefects (zhou) and Counties by Magistrates (xiànlìng). Each of these governs in assistance with a democratically elected council, with the lowest councils sending representatives to the higher councils.

The various member-states and autonomous regions of the Chinese Federation maintain their own separate governments; with a Viceroy acting as the Grand Council's official representative. In practice, many of the member states model their structure on that of China; especially those with heavily Confucian cultures, such as Korea and Vietnam. The extent to which the member-states enjoy meaningful autonomy varies; largely according to the character of the current administration and the current Viceroy, and how well they work together. The Viceroy's primary responsibility is to ensure that China's will is obeyed by its allies, but also to ensure that good relations continue.

Scholar-Officials[]

China's bureaucracy is handled by Scholar-officials in the traditional Confucian manner, albeit with certain modifications. Membership in this elite order is open to all Chinese citizens regardless of background - making it theoretically possible for a naturalized immigrant to join, though this may be difficult. The Scholar-Officials are one of the key institutions of Chinese society, alongside the military and the scientific elite. Their members staff both the bureaucracy and the judiciary.

To become a Scholar-Official, and to rise through the ranks, it is necessary to pass the Imperial Examination at the Prefectural Level. Above these are the College, Provincial, Metropolitan, and Palace level. Unlike in previous eras, this does not represent the limit of a Scholar-Official's qualifications. Rather it serves to prove a candidate's mental prowess and good character from a Confucian perspective. Successful candidates are required to undergo formal training at Civil Service or Judicial academies located in Prefectural and Provincial capitals; with the Imperial academy being located in Luoyang. Only at the Palace level is additional training not required.

The result is a system that seeks to balance traditional, Confucian morals, and the practical needs of running a modern state. It has managed this reasonably well, though like much of the Chinese state it is tormented by corruption, encouraged by the Grand Eunuchs in order to build and maintain their power base.

Economics[]

The Chinese Federation is one of the economic powerhouses of the world, if only on the basis of its vast natural resources and enormous population. Nevertheless it largely fails to meet its potential, a state of affairs brought about largely by neglect and corruption. It's scientific and technological base is broadly on par with that of Europe and Britannia; though once again corrupt and ineffectual leadership prevents it from being effectively used.

China's wealthiest areas tend to be major cities - especially in the industrialized north-east and the coastal provinces. Many cities, especially Luoyang and major trading centres like Shanghai, are as sophisticated and luxurious as anything in Europe or Britannia; connected with one-another by high-speed railways and wide, well-paved motorways. In sharp contrast stands the miserable poverty of many rural areas and economically marginal regions; which suffer from crumbling infrastructure and decaying public services. Troubles such as infant mortality, education failure, and crime are much higher in these neglected areas. By 2018 A.D., these represented a noticeable majority of China proper, while some member-states - notably India - were similarly troubled.

Military[]

The armed forces of the Chinese Federation are large and powerful; enough so to let China stand as one of the world's three superpowers. Like most armies, they are divided into the traditional branches of Army, Navy, and Air Force; though this is largely for training, administrative and logistical purposes. For command and control purposes, the forces are divided into five Military Regions, whose Viceroys act as the primary command authority. Overall command lies nominally with Tianzi, though as with all things, the Grand Eunuchs have actual control.

Strategy[]

Chinese strategic thinking is based to a great extent on Chinese classics; particularly Sun Tzu's The Art of War and the Thirty-Six Strategems. Considered broadly, this includes a particular focus on intelligence-gathering and deception, with an added emphasis on confusing and misdirecting the enemy in order to gain an advantage. This is notably different to Britannia's combat-focussed approach; and is in some quarters misrepresented as cowardly or effete. As all too many of China's enemies have discovered, it is anything but ineffectual.

Particular attention is paid to the concept of the Five Elements (wu xing); Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. When considered in a circle, each element augments the one ahead of it, weakens the one behind it, and destroys the next one ahead. Fire augments Earth, weakens Wood, and defeats Metal; Earth augments Metal, weakens Fire and defeats Water; Metal augments Water, weakens Earth, and defeats Wood; Water augments Wood, weakens Metal, and defeats Fire; Wood augments Fire, weakens Water, and defeats Earth. In the context of warfare, the elements refer to differing strategies and approaches, how they interact with one-another, and how one may be used to counter another.

Fire is the exploding or pounding force, which in war means acting quickly and forcefully, with a sudden and unexpected effect. It is weakened by Earth, for a strong defence can resist such attacks. It is defeated by Water, for an opponent that moves quickly and easily can avoid the thrust of an attack, and wear it down.

Earth is the crossing force, which means a solidifying effect; standing firm in the face of the enemy. It is weakened by Metal, for a sharp and decisive attack, ideally in an unexpected place, can break a strong defence. It is defeated by Wood, for a strong defence sacrifices mobility, and can be bypassed.

Metal is the splitting force, which means acting sharply and decisively against the enemy's strategy. It is weakened by Water, for even the sharpest attack cannot easily defeat an opponent that evades easily. It is defeated by Fire, for a decisive attack leaves no room for error, and can be defeated by an enemy that possesses unknown resources, or reacts in an unpredicted manner.

Water is the drilling force, which means acting with a flowing effect, moving easily around obstacles and countering the unexpected. It is weakend by Wood, for enveloping movements can trap and contain even fast-moving enemies. It is defeated by Earth, for fast-moving armies lack the striking power necessary to defeat a strong defence.

Wood is the crushing force, which means using expanding or enveloping movements to outflank and crush the enemy. It is weakened by Fire, for if an enemy responds quickly to a flanking attack, it can defeat the trap even as it closes. It is defeated by Metal, for if such movements are identified ahead of time, they can be attacked while they are unaware and vulnerable; ambushing the ambusher.

Forces[]

Imperial Guard[]

Also known as the Forbidden Army, the Imperial Guard exists to guard the Vermillion Forbidden City in Luoyang, and protect all inside; especially Tianzi. Their strength is around regimental level, and includes a knightmare unit. For the most part they present themselves as a ceremonial unit, wearing a traditional-styled uniform consisting of a red tabard and boots with a silver helmet, and carrying traditional weapons. Though devoted unto death to Tianzi, in practice they take orders from the Eunuchs.

Army[]

The Federal Army is the single largest branch of the armed forces, as well as the oldest. It is divided into a series of named or numbered armies, which are in turn divided into divisions. From then on the structure follows the 'three by three' approach; each division consists of three regiments, each regiment of three battalions, each battalion of three companies, each company of three platoons, and each platoon of three squads. Many long-standing units have acquired regimental titles drawn from Chinese history and legend, such as the 'Swift as Tigers' or 'Dragon Martial' regiments.

Dragon Cavalry[]

The youngest subdivision of the army and one of the most important, the Dragon Cavalry is the army's knightmare arm; approximately equivalent to the Britannian RPI. It is currently equipped with the Gun-Ru, a simple but not particularly capable knightmare; designed for ease of use and mass manufacture. It is nevertheless a prestigious unit, attracting brave and capable pilots.

Steel Chariots[]

The Steel Chariots are the subdivision in charge of armoured vehicles in general. Their importance has declined somewhat with the appearance of the Dragon Cavalry, but like their AFVs, their power is not to be underestimated.

Flying Cavalry[]

The Flying cavalry are the VTOL and airborne infantry subdivision, their name hinting at their ability to move and deploy quickly wherever they are needed. Originally consisting of paratroopers and heliborne troops, in modern times they deploy via multirole VTOLs. VTOL gunships are also handled by this branch.

Dare to Die[]

The Dare to Die (gansidui) units are suicide troops, given the most difficult and dangerous missions with a very high possibility of death. Only the most determined, or the outright suicidal, seek membership in the Dare to Die Corps; many seeking martyrdom to oppose and destroy China's enemies. Others may be granted membership in order to attain redemption for some terrible crime; whether by success or death.

Navy[]

The Chinese Federal Navy is designed primarily for coastal defence; though it attains a long-range capablity via its glacier fortresses. Its fighting strength is built primarily around its Fuchuan class multirole warships - approximating to destroyers in other navies - along with a substantial force of submarines. Coastal defence and security is provided by a force of corvettes and missile boats.

The true strength and pride of the Chinese navy are the five Glacier Fortresses, each one named for a sacred mountain; Tia Shan, Hua Shan, Heng Shan, Chang Shan, and Song Shan. Unlike most of the iceberg ships used by the Chinese Federation, these are fully equipped for war; carrying countless weapons, and capable of supporting whole fleets of warships and submarines, and scores of combat aircraft.

Air Force[]

The Chinese Air Force is the youngest of the formal branches, splitting off from the army in the 1920s. Its roles are to defend Chinese airspace, to help the Navy defend China's coasts, and to assist the army by launching long-ranged attacks into enemy territory. By 2010 A.D., it was armed with Jianlong multirole fighters, and heavy bombers; with its first floatships being lauched in 2016 A.D.

History[]

Fall of the Ming[]

The story of modern China began, for these purposes, in the middle of the 17th century A.D. At that time the Ming dynasty, which had ruled China for almost three hundred years, was on the verge of collapse. Already corrupt and sclerotic, the dynasty was further tormented by an ecological event known as the Little Ice Age; a spell of dry and cold weather that shortened the growing season. When combined with a population growing due the adoption of new crops - such as maize and potatoes - the result was mass famine. The government proved incapable of responding effectively to the situation, which was made worse by a shortage of silver; the preferred precious metal of the Imperial administration, in which all taxes were paid. Starved of resources, incapable of effective administration, and with its own soldiers deserting en-masse, the Ming government lost all credibility; as Chinese society collapsed around it.

Of the many threats to Ming power that arose in the early 17th century, the most significant - or so it seemed at the time - was the growing power of Manchuria; its native Jurchen tribes by then united under a single Chieftain, Nurhaci. In 1618, he issued the Seven Grievances against the Ming dynasty; notably that the Ming killed his father and grandfather unjustly, and interfered in Manchu clan conflicts for its own profit. He subsequently led his army in an invasion of Liaoning Province, wherein he fought against Ming forces in the Battle of Fushun; defeating the Ming and capturing the fortress of Fushun. It was only the first of many victories for the Manchus.

Meanwhile, the crumbling Ming regime had other problems. In western Mongolia, the Oirat tribes united to form their own Khanate; known as the Dzungar Khanate for the region in which it was established. This was a challenge to Ming hegemony, but not the most immediate threat. Much closer to home was the She-An Rebellion, which broke out in Sichuan in 1621. Aroused by resentment over taxation and military levies, this revolt would drag on for eight years; only being finally suppressed in 1629. This was followed only two years later, in 1631, by a major mutiny in Wuqiao, Heibei province; provoked when local officials refused to provide a Ming army with food. The mutiny was crushed a year later, but the survivors escaped to Manchuria; where they were taken on by Nurhaci's successor, Hong Taiji.

The beginning of the end finally came in 1630, with a most unlikely figurehead. Li Zicheng began his life as a peasant in Shaanxi province, whose various jobs included a post as an Imperial mailman. According to folklore, he failed to repay loans to a corrupt magistrate, who responded by displaying him in an iron collar and shackles; and even beat a guard for trying to give him water. A group of locals rescued Li and named him as their leader, whereafter they began lashing out at Ming authority in any way they could. Over the years that followed he joined a rebel army, rose to command it, and won several battles against Ming forces. His manifesto of dividing land equally and abolishing the grain tax was extremely popular with the impoverished peasantry, and won him much support. In 1642, Li went so far as to name himself a King, declaring the Shun Dynasty.

Matters reached a head in 1644, as the Shun army advanced on the Imperial capital at Beijing. On April 24th, after surrender negotiations had broken down, Li's army stormed and ransacked the capital; while the Chongzheng Emperor hanged himself in the Imperial Gardens. Li was quick to declare himself the Yongchang Emperor, and to send word to Wu Sangui, leader of a 40,000-strong Ming army which, at that time, was garrisoning the Shanhai Pass against the Manchus. To save the life of his father, whom Li had captured, and unwilling to side with the Manchus against whom he had fought for so long, Wu gave in and pledged himself to the Shun. As a result, Hong Taiji was not able to penetrate the Great Wall, and so turned his attention to the neighbouring Khalka Mongols. With the north secure for the moment, the Shun empire settled into consolidation.

Rise of the Zhou[]

By 1650, China was divided into three major powers. The Manchus, now calling themselves the Qing dynasty, controlled the far north; with a territory reaching as far north as the Amur RIver, and from Liaoning across Inner Mongolia north of the Great Wall as far as Ghansu. To their south was the Shun empire, which controlled northern and central China, and in turn a continuity Ming government in Nanjing, whose territory was mostly south of the Yangtze River. Between the Shun and the Southern Ming lay Zhang Xianzhong's Great Xi kingdom in Chongqing and Sichuan, while to the Shun's west lay the Kingdom of Turpan. Further west lay the growing Dzungar Khanate, and to its south the Khoshut Khanate, which effectively controlled Tibet.

What followed was a near-century of on-off warfare, as the three main powers struggled for control; and lesser powers sought to profit or merely survive. In the north, the Qing turned their attentions to consolidating their new-found power, and expanding their control over Outer Mongolia and the Amur region; with a view to securing their northern flank. Hong Taiji's strategy was a shrewd mixture of force and persuasion, the former being handled by his younger brother, Prince Dorgon. The Qing army by this point was a potent force; dominated by Manchu horse archers divided into eight 'Banners', supported in turn by the multiethnic 'Green Standard' army of infantry and artillery. Between the threat of such forces, and Hong's shrewd diplomacy, the Khalka and Amur tribes were brought gradually to heel; giving the Qing an empire as far north as Lake Baikal and the Amur River.

The Shun empire, by contrast, made few gains in the years following the Ming collapse. Though Li Zicheng inherited a largely-intact bureaucracy and substantial military forces; many of his troops were mere peasant rebels and bandits, and much time and effort was needed to train and equip them properly. Also, there was a constant need for troops to man the Great Wall, and keep the Qing at bay. Further south, the Southern Ming had to struggle not to disintegrate; as the Hongguang Emperor struggled to contain intrigue and infighting among his generals and officials, and soldiers robbed and burned in lieu of pay and rations. The death of Honguang in 1660, during a failed invasion of Xi, brought the disagreements and power struggles of the Ming court into the open. As the Ming Princes and generals began to fight among themselves, it seemed as though the Ming would finally disintegrate on their own.

The saviour of the Ming, and ultimately their successor, was a certain Jiang Zhihao. An army general of uncertain background, he made a name for himself by restoring order in northern Anhui, leading a small force of loyal troops to resist Shun raiders and suppress bandits and mutinous troops; forcing them to join him or die. This won him the good opinion of the peasantry, but also the local merchants; whose support would prove crucial in later years. As Jiang's fame and power grew, he made himself increasingly indispensible to the Ming Court. But for all that it could not easily accept him, for he was in background and temperament the exact opposite of the Scholar-Bureaucrats who dominated the administration. Though he was literate, it was said that the only Chinese classic he ever read was Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Contemporary accounts describe him as taciturn and lacking in social graces, but also honest, courageous, and utterly driven.

Jiang's time came in 1660, as the Southern Ming came close to collapse. One of Jiang's fellow generals, Zheng Chenggong - better known as Koxinga - fled to the island of Taiwan with his forces; where he captured the Dutch colony of Fort Zeelandia and declared the Kingdom of Tungning. This seems to have been the catalyst for Jiang to make his move. Early in 1661, he launched what amounted to a military coup; sneaking loyal troops into the Ming capital of Nanjing disguised among merchant caravans. A number of generals rallied to him, and he set about securing the Southern Ming territories. With military skills honed by two decades of war, a powerful army, and a solid reputation among the common people, he swept all before him. In 1665, he was in a position to declare himself Emperor; taking the name Wutai - meaning 'exalted martial'. For his dynasty he took the name Zhou, from the Zhou dynasty of ancient times.

Age of War[]

Despite his success in taking power and consolidating his position, it took Wutai many years to entirely secure the Southern Ming territories; taking back what Shun and Xi had taken during the interregnum. At the same time he did as other Emperors had done before; pardoning bandits and rebels in return for service, and issuing much-needed land and taxation reforms. Through these means, he sought to build support not only among the peasantry, but among the merchants; whom he valued not only for the money they could bring in, but for their usefulness as covers for espionage and information-gathering, both in China and beyond. Like his rivals, Wutai used merchant contacts to negotiate with foreign powers, gaining not only trade, but advice and assistance in developing his armed forces.

The Zhou army saw significant reform in this period. Wutai had relatively few cavalry at his disposal; most of China's horse-breeding regions being located in the north, far from his territory. Those he had he trained either as elite armoured lancers or light cavalry armed mostly with dao sabers; used primarily for scouting and pursuit. The infantry consisted of spearmen - who wore armour if it was available - and musketeers armed with matchlock muskets; in a proportion of about fifty:fifty during Wutai's reign. Wutai paid particular attention to his artillery, which he needed in order to overcome the archers and cavalry of his enemies. Aside from its efficient organisation and sheer numbers, its only noteworthy feature - compared to his rivals - was the use of light, horse-drawn artillery in support of his cavalry units; a concept common in European armies of the period.

A further complication was the need to pay and feed the soldiers; a problem for all the factions. Faced with the damage wrought by decades of conflict, Wutai was forced to limit the size of his armies; maintaining a small professional army, and allowing the peasants to form militias for their own defence. This was a risky move, but it allowed him to defend his territory without the tax increases a larger army would require. While this limited Wutai's military glory - he was able to take Jinan in the north and advance as far as the Yangtze River - it gave his lands vital time to recover and develop. Meanwhile, his defensive fighting sapped the strength of both the Shun and the Xi, setting the stage for their downfall.

Wutai died in 1678, a revered and successful Emperor. His son and successor took the name Longwu, meaning 'plentiful and martial', and sought to advance where his father had begun. To do so, he would need to secure his flanks and expand his armies further; preferably without excessive tax rises. One solution presented itself to both problems; the Tungning Kingdom. In the decades since its conquest by Koxinga, Tungning had grown into a self-sufficient island fortress; in which every male peasant provided compulsory military service in return for land. The two-hundred-strong Tungning fleet prowled the neighbouring seas, raiding the Chinese coast, any merchant ships they happened to encounter, and as far afield as Tokugawa Japan; providing a regular stream of treasure to pay for a breakneck programme of public works and military buildup.

For Longwu, the reasons to take down Tunging were piling up. A quite different character to his father, he had been more influenced by Confucian scholar-officials during his childhood. But even they favoured action against Tungning, if only for the sake of peace. But to attack Tungning would be no small matter, not least because Longwu had inherited only a small navy; most of his father's military budget having gone on the army and fortresses. Longwu's chance finally came in 1681, with the death of Tungning's ruler; Prince Zheng Jing. A power struggle ensued, which culminated in the enthronement of Koxinga twelve-year-old grandson, Zheng Keshuang. Longwu saw his chance, and in 1683 unleashed his revamped navy against Tungning. In a ferocious battle amid the islands of Penghu, the Tungning fleet was routed with heavy casualties, and the Penghu islands fell. Within days, the Tungning court surrendered to Longwu, and the island of Taiwan became a jewel in the Zhou crown.

The Northward March[]

Flushed with success, Longwu was quick to turn his attention to what remained of Great Xi. In 1685, his forces captured Chengdu; bringing the short-lived rebel state to an end, and allowing Longwu to turn his attentions to the Shun. But although his armies had defeated both Xi and Shun armies in his conquest of Xi, Shun itself would not fall so easily. Like its Zhou counterpart, the Shun military system had been forced to evolve by decades of war; and gained much in the evolution. Shun armies had originally been organised into combined-arms units of around two hundred and fifty; usually fifty cavalry, one hundred and fifty infantry, and up to forty servants. By the 1690s, these units had doubled in size, and remained the basis of Shun military organisation; though they had adopted the practice of removing and combining the cavalry into larger formations during major engagements. Being stronger in cavalry than their southern foes, the Shun were less concerned with protecting their infantry; instead arming them primarily with muskets, along with small numbers of shock troops armed with swords and Rattan shields. Furthermore, repeated wars on multiple fronts had left the Shun army with a legacy of combat experience, passed down from one generation of officers to the next.

But for all that, the Shun were vulnerable. Being caught between two major opponents, the Shun could not so easily secure their flanks, and as such did not have the option of reducing their military commitments. Worse, the vast fortunes Li Zicheng had planned to loot from the Ming elite in Beijing had turned out not to exist; leaving his regime with a cash-flow problem. As a result, the Shun were forced to squeeze the peasants with high taxes in order to maintain their armies. To make matters worse, the Shun and Qing had secured their respective regimesl by coming to terms with the scholar-bureaucrats; whose Neo-Confucian ideology held commerce and the military professions in contempt. As a result, they had nothing like the mercantile base to match what the Zhou had built; thus weakening their overall economy and limiting their taxation options. While Zhou society was also under serious pressure; the Shun simply crumbled faster.

Longwu's strategy late in his reign was to push into the old Shun heartlands in central China; especially the city of Xi'an. Though Zhou armies tended to defeat Shun armies in the field, and were skilled siege engineers, the chaos of war had led to a proliferation of fortifications; as towns and cities sought to defend themselves in any way they could. The sheer number of sieges invariably slowed the Zhou advance, and gave the Shun opportunity to rally and strike back. Thus, although the Zhou captured Wan and Kuizhou, and pushed substantially into Shaanxi province; by the time Longwu died in 1704, Xi'an remained in Shun hands.

It fell to Longwu's heir to finally settle the matter. His regnal name of Hongwu, meaning 'vastly martial', was chosen both to honour the Ming dynasty and to indicate his intentions. Having like his grandfather endured a life of violence, Hongwu vowed that he would end the wars and reunite China once and for all. Desperate for any sort of advantage, Hongwu not only accelerated the importation and production of flintlock muskets, but equipped his troops with the Socket Bayonet; a weapon that allowed a soldier to double as musketeer and spearman, thus resolving a conundrum that had tormented both European and Chinese armies for generations. This was a radical move by Chinese standards, and its effects should not be overestimated. By Hongwu's multi-pronged assault into Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in 1710 was a resounding success, with Xi'an falling in 1711.

The Endgame[]

With the fall of Xi'an, it was clear that Shun power was crumbling. With Zhou armies massing for a northward push against Beijing, the Shun Emperor Tianfu did the hitherto unthinkable. The Great Wall west of Shanxi was all but stripped, with tens of thousands of troops transferred to shore up the defences in Shanxi, and those who remained left to face the Qing alone. The Qing, under the Kangxi Emperor, took full advantage, breaching the Great Wall and pouring into northern Gansu and Ningxia. This may have been the intent of Tianfu; to distract Hongwu with a Qing assault and buy him valuable time. At first the ploy seemed to work, as Hongwu was forced to turn his armies north against the Qing; defeating their invasion in a series of costly battles. But the abandonment of Gansu and Ningxia left Shun troops demoralized, and war-weary civilians questioning whether the Shun were worthy of their loyalty. Hongwu saw his chance, and ordered his forces defending the Shandong border to advance north. Shun resistance crumbled before them, and Jinan was taken in late 1714.

Tianfu's decision would haunt him further, as Qing forces turned their attention to the Shun defences. Using Yulin as a base, they attacked from the west, rolling up the Great Wall and taking Datong and Xuanfu before a major force could enter from the north. This done, in 1715, the Qing marched on Beijing and sacked the city in, killing or capturing the Imperial family and wiping out much of the Shun leadership. The remaining Shun armies made their own choices; either going over to the Qing or Zhou, or simply dispersing. Either way, the Shun dynasty was over.

In response, Hongwu reasserted his claim to be Emperor of all China by establishing a new capital at Luoyang. Crossing the Yellow River in force, he faced the Qing armies, under the command of Prince Zhi, near Taiyuan. The battle that followed was brutal even by the standards of those times; with heavy casualties on both sides. Most significantly of all, the Qing cavalry - including the elite Manchu bannermen - was shattered, and could not easily be replaced. Fearing for his life after such a defeat, Prince Zhi led his battered army back to Liaodong, and attempted to assassinate his father. He failed, and paid with his life, but the resulting confusion gave the Zhou forces time to advance north, take the Shanhai pass, and begin shoring up the Great Wall.

Desperate, Kangxi offered peace; offering to surrender Liaodong and all his other Chinese holdings, and even to give up his Imperial claim, in return for being allowed to keep what he had taken elsewhere. Hongwu was initially unwilling, but reports of unrest across the empire, and shortages of money to pay the troops, convinced him to call a halt and accept Kangxi's terms. The war was, for the moment, finally over.

More to come

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