People who've seen my original list of scenarios to release or read my original thread on CF may notice the change of plans and the conspicious lack of Spacenixon. Anyways, here's a scenario based on the anti-reformist coup of 1898 in China failing. as a result, China continues the 100 days of reform and the giant of the east starts slowly waking up.
This happens to be a scenario that's been on my PC for at least two years without me finishing it or producing a map. It started when the anti-reformist coup came up in a discussion between one of my friends and I which then escalated into spitballing. Some people may notice the (not coincidental) similarities to both Hendryk's Superpower Empire, along with John Reilly's own "New Dynasty in 1916" scenario, both of which influenced this world. I made a writeup of this, forgot about it and ended up burying the file deep in my archives before rediscovering it a few months ago.
Initially, the slow modernization of China means a similar world to our world but over time changes such as Korea's neutralization, the avoidance of the warlord period among others begin to start building up. World war one, the roaring 20s happen and the depression happen roughly on schedule, but even then there are differences beyond the superificial.
The first point of difference comes in the form of Japan, which never gained Korea and as a result doesn't have the success which emboldened militarist elements in our world. Once the rice riots of 1918, which happened in our timeline come around in this world there's a drastically different response. A Conservative government was already dealing with international complaints regarding Japanese intervention in Siberia and then had the army's repressive response led to a backlash. As a result, the special constitutional role of the military was reduced to nothing more than a token role. A less bold Japan faced an international environment where China may have had issues but was never weak enough to be pushed around by Japan to the extent of our world's warlord era. This led to a series of ineffective leaders of both right and left, but in the end Japan began to accept it's role as a secondary power whose influence comes from choosing the right international patron.
Much like in our world, the second world war happens on schedule. China, Japan and Korea all fight alongside the allies in Europe and North Africa. . The extra manpower from the east, combined with no pacific war meant that the second world war ended in december of 1944, with borders more to the west's liking -- More of germany being under allied occupation, Albania, Trieste remaining under western occupation, Austria being in the western zone. Secondly, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Czechslovakia were all neutralized and 'finlandized'. The only solid gains for the soviet union were the annexations of Finland, the baltics and Poland along with a puppet regime in Romania.
Another point of convergence is there being a cold war between capitalism and communism. The difference comes from the fact that the capitalist side had two factions: a democratic, more left-wing faction led by the United States while China led it's own group of reactionary monarchies and juntas. American opinion of China in the cold war was like our response to Pinochet or Mobutu -- "They're bastards, but they're bastards on our side". The twin factors of more economic and military muscle being deployed against communism along with the communist world being denied OTL's prestige of adding China to the ranks meant that containment was much more easily done. Besides, just being more geopolitically in the west's favor, the cold war was less expensive, which meant that the postwar boom was extended well into the 1980s. This politico-economic advantage in favor of the west led to communism crumbling a decade earlier than in our world. After all, it didn't take long for the initial burst of popular support at the Beria reforms to turn into disillusionment, which culminated in unrest. The fact that trying to do a mars mission was bankrupting the USSR really didn't help. In the late 1970s unrest turned into outright revolt, and by 1980 soldiers were shooting protestors in the street. THere were briefly two soviet governments based in Kiev and Moscow, but by spring of 1981 the red flag was taken down and the Russian Federation was delared, with 17 initial member republics. This went down to 13 within the week and dropping.
With the third player removed from the scene, the next two decades say a period of international cooperating resembling our world's 1990s in many ways. America was intervening around the world, China was relatively passive at the time, Russia was recovering and the third world was split between basketcases and economically integrating regions. This last period of western unipolarity began evaporating in the late 1990s, and was clearly over when China set up it's own moon base in 2000.
Now there are two. A China entering a third period of dynamism and modernization decided to flex it's muscle. America's habit of frequent intervention in the third world was rather quickly curtailed thanks to a more outward looking China deciding to veto it. Besides just reducing the number of 'humanitarian' interventions, China flexed it's muscles to force various third world conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestine or Congo war to be... resolved. It didn't necessarily matter if the outcome led to a chinese puppet state, the key was to try putting a lid on conflicts within or around resource-rich zones. This isn't a cold war, but instead two equal competitors coexisting. Instead of McWorld vs Jihad, it is McWorld and the Sinosphere dominating the world militarily, economically and culturally.
THE MOST HARMONIUS SPHERE OF THE QING AND ASSOCIATES
The Qing China that exists in 2012 is radically changed from the old empire of the 19th century. Yes, there is an emperor and the bureaucrats wear robes but in practice, China resembles our People's Republic of China in many different ways; the government is nationalistic, authoritarian, focused on economic modernization and is a party state complete with the secret police having fancy uniforms. Of course, it's not a pure clone of our People's Republic of China -- there are differences in detail like the promotion of traditional culture, elites being expected to memorize the confucian classics, the government's being more easygoing re: censorship along with substantial ones such as an economic policy focused more on internal development. Without the warlord period, one-child policy or pacific war the population of China is 1.7 billion instead of 1.2 billion. With both the higher population, and higher standards of living factored in, China's GDP is more than double OTL's china and is projected that it will equal the United States of America by 2015 or 2016. However, due to the development being more gradual the "feel" of China looks quite different. There's fewer glittering new cities, but instead better conditions in rural areas and lots more mixed semi-first world zones.
Most of rest of East and southeast asia is essentially in China's sphere. As a result, the populations of overseas Chinese are doing better than OTL and are all rather larger than OTL. The governments tend to be either monarchies or pro-chinese right-wing regimes. These governments usually range from 80s Korea or Franco's Spain to Singapore in terms of authoritarianism.
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are all monarchies copying the Chinese economic/social model to varying degrees of success. All are upper middle income. Vietnam's beaches are full of american tourists, including quite a few retired baby boomers who in OTL served there.
Thailand is low-end first world and has a more stable government. Stable, not democratic since the Thai royal family moved to a china-style party state and oligarchy instead of a government that's a shaky democracy with coups every few years. A richer Thailand, means that the prostitutes don't tend to be native thai, but instead 'guest workers' from Indonesia or Burma.
Malaysia has a secular government, is majority Chinese and nothing like the real world's "bumiputra" policies in place(Britain removes discrimination against chinese along with allows chinese immigration as a bribe to get China into WWII). Lee Kwan Yu was that nation's greatest prime minister and his successors still try copying him. As a result, it's poorer than OTL Singapore, but is edging into the lower tier of the first world these days. The Malay minority isn't overly happy, and there is a bit of a terrorism problem.
Korea, is essentially mini-China in many ways. It's got a mildly fascistic government, a royal family, cutthroat capitalistic economics and a standard of living on par with OTL's South Korea. Korea's leaders are flexible and looking to Sweden or Malaysia for ideas on how to keep a one-party state going in a wealthy nation with subtle measures or legal harassment instead of methods that get Korea bad press like shooting or jailing protestors. Korean internet censors are more vigorous than China's and occasionally have to be reined in by the government after even China notices how outrageous they are.
Indonesia is a right-wing oligarchy on the model of the current PRC or 80s south Korea and has double OTL's per capita GDP. It's a rather more secular nation than our Indonesia -- part of it is increased urbanization but the other part if China as a model. Indonesians resent having Beijing looking over to make sure they don't mistreat the Chinese or steal from chinese businessmen. This leads to Indonesians becoming very good at the arts of arrogant incompetence and bureaucratic harassment.
Burma is a corrupt right-wing military dictatorship that's edging into low-end middle income status thanks to Chinese modernization. Outside of being somewhat more prosperous, having a different flag and retaining a royal family it's unfortunately still similar to OTL in many ways.
The most recent addition to the Chinese sphere is the Phillippines. This nation recieved independence in 1944, and unlike in the real world didn't opt to sever economic ties with the US(THAT particular horrible decision gets butterflied out). The Phillippines is low-end first world(think Puerto Rico, Mississippi, greece or Portugal for level of development) and has twice the population of our world's Phillippines -- the arrival of economic modernization earlier on in the demographic transition meant that the number ended up being higher. Filipino democracy is more stable and corruption is less. Manila is as much of a spring break destination as Acapulco.
Outside of it's zone in east asia, China dominates a quite large percentage of the third world. It's allies tend to be reactionary or nationalist. Think OTL's pattern of both China and India investing in resource-rich regions and not being too concerned with the ideology of the locals.
The oil shiekdoms of the UAE, Iraq, Libya, Wahabi Arabia and Iran find their Chinese patrons to be better than OTL's status of being aligned with the United States. Iraq isn't first world yet, but it should get there soon. Wahabi Arabia is pretty much "The saudis" and other bedouin tribes and is at least slightly less bad than our Saudis -- they don't fund missionaries.
South Africa and Rhodesia let black people who are wealthy vote and Grand apartheid was ended but aren't still too popular with the west. THe fact that both are sources of valuable minerals mean that the Qing find them useful. The Chinese have kept international pressure down to South Africa having to let the 10% wealthiest blacks vote and remove petty segegationist laws), but the ANC is banned and both Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe ended up in front of a firing squad.
The Kingdom of Ethiopia is a poor, corrupt, authoritarian monarchy that only has a per capita GDP of $1,500.
Iran is still under the shah and is first world economically, even if the government of the Shah is only now moving to jailing protestors instead of shooting them on sight -- that bit of liberalization is probably coming because the islamist problem has gone from rural guerilla war to only the occasional car bombing. Women, intellectuals and religious minorities do better than OTL.
Turkey is fully first world and is almost as democratic as in our world. The exception, is that the military still bans political islam and the AKP ended up shut down. Turkey's government doesn't even bother trying for European Community admission these days. -- why bother when it's got a Chinese patron
Even with extra competition, the United States is still the same basic place and mostly recognizable to an offworld visitor. It's got the world's largest military, world's biggest economy(for the next 2-3 more years at least) and landed the first man on mars. The government is still a corrupt oligarchy, but has more rational and slightly more civil politics due to the existence of a second peer power to force Americans to be slightly more grounded in reality. Compared to our world, it's a more secular, if rather less cynical nation than our America -- no loss of east asia to create a second red scare, Vietnam War, watergate or dramatic communist success(in the form of Red China) to both scare Americans into voting for the right or entirely discredit the old social contract. Racial politics are slightly less tense. It's also a 20% richer nation, with that being better distributed thanks to less military spending, no energy crisis, having a functional healthcare system, retaining banking laws and of course an earlier expansion of trade with east asia.
Politically, America is significantly to the left of our world. There are certain differences from our world's left, though; The old left remains stronger and the "new left" remained confined to a few college campuses. This is a nation with more protectionism, extended vacation time, shorter work hours, a functional healthcare system and actual banking regulations. The "new left" not being influential means that OTL's bossy "health and safety" or "anti-racism"/"anti-sexism" nanny state types either don't exist or are less influential/came about later. Instead of our world's 2 party system, this world has a 2.5 party system with labor-dominated Democrats, centrist Republicans and the right-populist AIP. Despite the best efforts of the AIP to raise tensions(AIP senators interrupting the state of the union to call President Ford(D-TN) racial slurs don't help. Neither do the AIP politicians taking out venn diagrams showing how marihuana use correlates with percentage of negro blood in individuals.), the overall political spectrum is more staid and discussion more civil.
The stereotypes for democrats is that they're 1) black 2) a union member 3) from the south while Republicans are 1) Rich. Both the flashy noveaux riche and old money 2) kind of gay 3) 'chic' hipsters living off of family investments/trust funds, This is a world where Zangara's bullet didn't miss FDR, and the GOP saw people like Borah displacing the old rural wing. The American Independent Party's stereotypes are Alex Jones, Klansmen and survivalists/'preppers'.
Culturally, America is a more relaxed nation; As a result, there's no real "pro-life" movement, penalties for drug use are softer, even if only one state(Vermont) has outright legalized marijuana, the TV is dirtier(Regular Show has unconsensual sodomy instead of "punchies" and Adventure Time has Finn/Jake as a couple). Gun control is weaker. Suburbanization and the settlement of the sunbelt both never really happened without an intense cold war to scare Americans into deciding that it needed to redistribute the population into the countryside. As a result, America is a more urban and integrated nation and the settlement of the sunbelt and west was set back. One side effect was that despite higher population growth than OTL without the "baby bust" of the 70s, America is more homogenous since the reopning of immigration was timed a bit differently and involved a mix of skills and cultural compatibility(translation: being either white or east asian with the occasional rich latin. Muslims, hindus and africans in general need not apply).
America's foreign policy is a bit more humble and less imperial in a world where America has had real competition for longer than OTL -- post-soviet Russia didn't fall as hard as OTL, China is significantly bigger and Europe has had a decade more time in which to consolidate. This is a world where America is the greatest of the great powers and is not the lone hyperpower.
The United Kingdom and Ireland, along with both Australia and New Zealand decided to be in this world's version of NAFTA instead of being in the European Community. These states are all wealthier, less regulated and more nationalist than our world's versions. One side effect has been spread of British culture to the United States -- there was a second "British Invasion" of music in the 90s and 00s with ska and drum and bass and the "chav" subculture has spread to America's white working class. Chinese demand, retaining imperial trade links and of course the North Atlantic Free Trade Area mean that both Australia and New Zealand are upper first world, instead of our world's lag.
Latin America is more firmly in America's sphere of influence, but at least is a little luckier than OTL. China's participation in the world economy combined with fewer newly independent states following socialist policies meant more demand for minerals and food, which means the region overall is wealthier. The fact that they're able to play off both the United States and the Qing Empire to get better deals and more investment also helps. This is most visible in the first world southern cone, but even the central american disaster zones are all visibly better off. Cuba is still a partying place and an extra NAFTA member. Like Africa in our world since the 1990s, Latin America has populations of chinese immigrants who've come in since the 1970s.
Europe, from the baltics to Portugal rather resembles OTL with the exception of some relatively minor border changes and the lack of the UK's membership. With yugoslavia, bulgaria, czechslovakia and hungary all being neutral or free and available as sources of guest-workers, along with China sending out people combined with the soviet collapse happening when the USSR was somewhat more demographically healthy muslim immigration never really got going to demographically significant levels(a few bosniaks and albanians and that was pretty much it). As a result, right-wing SF or "thriller" writers need to find a new way to wreck Europe. They mostly choose the old trope of German Revanchism. With the cold war ending in the early 1980s, Europe has had another decade to consolidate and distance itself from the United States.
Japan faces the choice: align with the west or choose a more appealing path: alliance with China. Unlike the rest of east Asia, japan has the economic strength to have a more independent foreign policy. Without a rabid militarist interlude, Japan enjoys a better reputation in the region even if the Chinese are still slightly annoyed over Taiwan. Without a pacific front, Japan retained it's pre-1931 borders minus Korea. A combination of no pacific front, a more pro-natalist government and a less racist Japan being willing to let in immigrants mean that there's 260 million Japanese living in the Home Islands -- The North of Japan is far more settled than OTL. Japanese popular culture is if anything even more strange and decadent than OTL, without the US occupation to affect mores. Incidently, this means rather less tentacle porn(The tentacle trope was created as a means to get around US-occupation authority imposed, and still not repealed legislation about showing genitalia). However, in recent decades, Japanese have begun to question decades-old anglo-saxon ties and started moving towards China's sphere.
Russia still includes a larger chunk of the former soviet union. It is similar to our world's Russian Federation except 20% richer(saner economics, combined with more time to recover from communism) and demographically healthier. Unfortunately, it's still corrupt and dominated by the United Russia party but you can't win them all.
Israel sulks and would like it's territory back, but can't do anything about it. Following the peace with it's neighbors, Israel has become even more polarized between Orthodox and secular jews than in OTL, and there is as much of a domestic terrorist problem as OTL's external arab problem. The fact that Israel is actually likely to make it to 2048 unlike our world is small compensation.
India narrowly avoided partition and is more decentralized than OTL, but isn't too different. It's got a muslim terror problem on par with it's OTL Naxalite troubles. India also has extensive autonomous areas like Rajahstan and Bengal which are de facto independent. This compromise has kept secessionist agitation down to "rural terrorism", and not the guerilla warfare of the 1950s.
Compared to OTL, the muslim world is much more secular. More of the middle east has looked to the chinese model of secular reactionary nationalism, and much less to the Islamists. THe opposition to dictators or monarchs tend to be more generic right-wing authoritarians rather than fundamentalists.
Culturally, the world is a different place thanks to the sino-western bipolarity. 2-6% of westerners, depending on the country have converted to either some form of chinese traditional religion, Taoism or Buddhism with Shinto managing to recieve a few converts. Post-60s "new age" movements and Wicca absorb more buddhist tropes/ideas and less Indian. As stated before, various forms of east asian animation/comics are more popular in the west. This translates to a stronger US comics industry as comics are more acceptable. Japanese animination was the biggest thing in the west from the 1980s until about 2000, since then Korean and Chinese comics have started doing better. Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other east asian foods are more widespread. East Asian immigrants to the west since the 1950s and 60s have helped push these cultural changes along.
With a more multipolar environment in the capitalist world, Hollywood and New York's publishing houses get less of they wants with trade treaties and "intellectual property" protection laws are at least slightly weaker. The public domain is now up to the early 1940s in the US, DRM services imploded messily with results like the buyout of apple by Ciarog Software inc. back in 2003 after a series of lawsuits and customer "direct action" involving the death of Jobs, Wozniak and their families and Gabe Newell's suicide in 2004 after losing a lawsuit related to Steam's DRM and the idea is generally regarded as not worth the trouble. There is no DLC for games and media playing software has DVD ripping as a standard option. Yet another side effect of this weaker enforcement is there being no. There is no DMCA, which means you can actually find shows on youtube without needing to deal with gimmicks like reversing the video left to right.
Colonialism fell much like in our world, and for much the same reasons. However, without the pacific war the exact process was altered and a few minor bits have been retained -- Belize remains British, Puerto Rico is a US state, Taiwan and microneisa were integrated into the Japanese metropole, Portugal retains Cape Verde and a few minor bits of West Africa remain French.
Also, this is somewhat a more rational and pro-scientific world without the post-modernism/various anti-rational memes that got big in the 60s/70s, combined with a stronger space race. Movements such as islamism or the post-1970s christian right have been less influential. A less stagnant US political system means fewer conspiracy theorists, which has spread to the rest of the west(New world order, holocaust denial, UFOlogy are all even more fringe).
Politically, having a functional political and economic model that's an alternative to the stock western democracy plus some level of welfare state is a big change. The combination of state capitalism, traditionalism and oligarchical authoritarianism appeals to many third world nationalists. This is part of why the world economy is significantly bigger than OTL
Technologically, the world lagged OTL by a few years into the middle of the 1950s(No a-bomb being used in WWII) but since then has advanced further in part due to a larger capitalist world with the other part being due to a continuing space race. Depending on the area, this world ranges from five to fifteen years ahead of OTL. The least advanced area is military technology besides aerospace and the most advanced areas are alternate energy, biotechnology, medicine, synthetics and aerospace. By now, the US, Russia, Japan and China both have moonbases, there are orbital hotels and Hilton is discussing a lunar hotel.
Adding China to the capitalist world economy in 1945 instead of in the 1980s produced rather more economic growth than OTL. This has had the downside of causing energy prices to start rising faster than OTL -- while there was no 1970s oil crisis, the early and middle 1980s saw visible price rises. The slowly rising cost of energy and minerals has led to vast investments in nuclear power and other forms of energy including even orbital solar power(Now provides 15% of first world power needs, and 7% of total world power needs) along with investments in 'ersatz' replacements for scarce materials. A milder and less dangerous cold war made nuclear power seem like a safer option, so more nations use it extensively besides France and Japan.
Like our world, there are 7 billion people but this world's population is somewhat differently distributed. THere are more people in east asia, indochina, the phillippines and Japan with less people in Africa. The demographic transition is a bit further ahead than OTL in India and Africa. Our world is expected to top out at 9-10 billion, but this world is more likely to be around 8 billion by the time it tops out.