The 21st century was not kind to China, in particular, its people. Worsening relations with the rest of the globe has left China involuntarily isolated, forcing it to find resources within its own borders or coercing smaller nations into one-way relationships. Climate change wrecked havoc upon the coastal regions, the economic, political, and cultural arteries of the entire nation
. Environmental and political stresses pushed China deeper into authoritarianism; by the mid-21st century, few could disagree that mainland China was a dystopic state that made Airstrip One of 1984 look like heaven in comparison. Birth rate was tightly monitored and controlled, with every newborn barcoded. The advancements in biomedical technology allowed every civilian to be further marked in their bloodstreams, making privacy, any semblance of free speech and movement, a distant memory. Career paths were nearly predetermined as well, children practically working at a young age through laborious education. The exceptions, of course, were the politically powerful and the wealthy, who could afford expensive exemption fees that lifted them out of the complex web of rigid systems that controlled most of the populous.
The advent of widely available fusion power of the 2070’s, then the first successful, macroscopic utilization of FTL technology; sparked hopes and dreams of people of other nations. For those of China, the reality was extending their own controlled state beyond the surface of Earth
. Basic supplies of air and water were tightly controlled by loyalists in stations from Luna
, to Ceres
. As sparsely populated stations continued to dot the Sol system
, it wasn’t unheard of for one or two stations to go offline, publicly announced as accidents, but in reality were efforts to silence whispers of independence. Meanwhile, the situation on Earth remained perilous. As China’s coast continues to be flooded by rising sea waters, massive arcologies rose up with the majority of the population moved into them, both as a way to consolidate resources and reduce consumption, and as a far more convenient method to tighten the iron grip on the populace. This is no better seen than in the Beijing megalopolis, a hive of multiple arcologies embedded into the Northwestern mountains and steppes that has become the beating political and economic heart of the entire PRC in the Sol system.
The dynamics shifted in 2117, when the PRC built its own SLE system as a statite of Sol at its south pole, then the first steps on habitable planets of the Shen Zhou system
by 2118. In an effort to alleviate the high population stress on Earth, and questionably in conflict with other PRC motives, a mass emigration program was launched where tens of millions of people annually were moved off of Earth into the Shen Zhou system. By the 2030’s, a sizable minority of China’s population was now extrasolar. Anticipating a workforce shortage in the Sol system, those in power released a controversial, biological program even by their standards in 2132: the Zhuli
, mass produced sentient
beings akin to slaves who mature faster and seemingly more easily controlled compared to normal humans.
Colonization of the Shen Zhou system ran into issues with native sentient life, primarily the Aos Si. Upon discovery and conflict, their presence was painstakingly removed around human
colonies, and information of their existence suppressed, to remove additional uncertainty that they introduced into the PRC systems. To prevent this incident from occurring again, the Zhuli were deployed into the Li Ming system before it was colonized in 2154 to silence the native population as much as possible first.
Both the emigration and the Zhuli program expanded as the PRC expanded its presence in its two extrasolar systems. Rich in living space and resources, control of the two systems made the PRC extremely wealthy and powerful, rivaling the American Union
in terms of fleet size. By 2179, between migration and encouragement of high birth rates, nearly half of the PRC’s population were spread between the Shen Zhou and Li Ming systems, with the Zhuli now taking up a tangible minority in the Sol system, assisting administration, science, engineering, and military tasks.
However, perhaps predictably, the Zhuli were not blind to their slavery. To modern day, it still wasn’t clear how long they planned their rebellion, but in 2199, the unthinkable happened: Zhuli across the PRC’s territories struck at their owners: high ranking politicians, scientists, engineers, and military officers; with animalistic violence, killing most, now referred to as the “Zhongzhi
” event. Such rebellion was not unexpected by the rest of the human community, but no one anticipated this level of coordination, brutality, or scale. As if in an instant, centuries of dominance by the CCP was beheaded.
The ramifications both internally and externally were swift. Political power struggles, riots, and general pandemonium spread quickly, while the Zhuli attempted to escape to the freshly colonized Tian Tang system, eventually becoming the Daqin Empire
. Meanwhile, AU and GDW forces descended upon mainland China, conducting Operation Heavy Chorus where its maritime borders were blockaded and major military installations were either occupied or destroyed. Meanwhile, Operation Distant Flock
blocked any interaction between the Sol, Li Ming, and Shen Zhou systems to contain the ensuing chaos within PRC territories. Collectively, these two operations kick started the 2nd Century of Humiliation where China was once again embroiled in internal conflict while the foreign nations gripped the country.
While effective at minimizing damage through the entire human community, civil wars sprang up in the old PRC territories, especially mainland China. Around 2220’s, an entire generation reached adulthood, scarred physically and mentally by gang warfare, economic depression, and anarchy, appropriately called “The Scarred Generation”. By the late 2260’s, the Chinese population in the Sol system would’ve lost a tenth of its population to warfare, starvation, suicide, and emigration. The authoritarian control now seemed preferable.
In this darkest hour, however, there seemed to be sparks of hope. Without the existence of the central authority, the Shen Zhou system was the first to form its own political party, the National Defense Party, in 2200, due to its proximity to Daqin
occupied Tian Tang system, rallying what remained of the local space command fleet. In 2205, the Unity Party formed in the Li Ming system, condemning AU and GDW for keeping the Chinese territories disunified and weak. The shake up finally made some semblance of democracy feasible, albeit the new local governments were still aristocratic in nature. In 2221, the Traditionalist Party formed in the smoldering Beijing megalopolis, promising a return to strength and old cultural values, without the weight of totalitarianism.
As the chaos dwindled after decades of civil war, the American Union loosened its grip on the Chinese territories, allowing travel to resume between systems. During the strife, however, Chinese civilians of the Sol system, Shen Zhou system, and Li Ming system all developed their own independent cultures and governments. In 2232, the Unity Party demanded the Traditionalists and National Defense Party to fall under their leadership, threatening use of force. In retaliation, the American Union intervened by striking into the Li Ming system and destroying four cruisers as part of Operation Distant Flock. Begrudgingly, the Unity Party relented and retracted its demands. After two more decades of negotiations, the three parties came together in orbit of Zhuque of the Li Ming system, signing the Vermillion Bird Promises in 2253, the official formation of the Heaven Forged Republic
. Beijing was deemed too brain-drained and dilapidated to represent the capital of the new nation; instead, for the first time in three centuries, the capital was moved, this time extrasolar, to the less populated but economically stronger and technologically superior Yunwang city on Zhuque.
As part of the compromise, the three parties retained mostly independent control over their systems. While new challengers sprouted up through the upcoming decades, these three parties retained control over their respective territories, becoming the de-facto three states of the HFR. Up to modern day, the HFR’s military is split between three states, united by necessity to repel the threats of the Daqin, the AU, and the GDW. The American Union to this day still has heavy surveillance on the HFR states, maintaining a continuous tension between the two superstates. Political tensions between the three states are hot and regular, each with their own system of government and ideological outlook. It remains unclear how long the HFR will remain in this state before it is completely exploited by either the AU or Daqin. For now, the Chinese people breathe more easily than their ancestors, with authoritarian suppression mostly behind them.