沒有國民黨就沒有中國, Without the Kuomintang there would be no China, A Republic of China Story

From the looks of it my hopes for a democratic China-US bromance are once again sadly dashed :pensive:

Nevertheless, that was a great update. Always look forward to reading anything from this TL.
一百一十六, Hong Kong
Today we enter a new era in our history.

-Lien Chan, June 10, 1997

Hong Kong was an important city throughout the 19th and 20th centuries up to today. It was once a fishing village, and it was ceded to Britain in 1841. The British made the city into a major financial center. In 1898, Britain singed a 99-year lease of the New Territories, which extended how much land was included as part of Hong Kong. British colonial rule provided stability in a time that China was very unstable. This meant that it was a safe place for business, and the British authorities enacted pro-business policies. Hong Kong grew in size and prosperity. It was a cultural powerhouse in Asia until the late 20th century. Much of the movies and music consumed by Chinese speakers worldwide was from Hong Kong.

While Hong Kong was under British administration, it was closer (both culturally and geographically) to China. The vast majority of its inhabitants were Han Chinese. Many of them resented British colonial rule. In the 50s and 60s there was some concern that China would just march troops into the city, but that never happened. China was willing to wait. China would, however, demand that Britain treat the Chinese people in Hong Kong well. The Kuomintang had a long history in Hong Kong going back to Sun Yat-sen and the party was active in the city. The Hong Kong chapter of the KMT would present itself as the organization dedicated to fight for the Chinese people in Hong Kong. They would stage protests when they felt that the rights of Chinese people were being violated or when Nanking wanted them to.

The Hong Kong KMT would have its enemies, however. The British colonial authorities were not too fond of them. There were Chinese who didn’t like them either. Some of these anti-KMT Chinese were those who had fled from the mainland, including many Communists. KMT members would sometimes violently clash with them. In 1962, there were violent clashes between pro-KMT gang members and pro-Li Zongren demonstrators. This tarnished the party’s image in Hong Kong for the next few years, though it eventually recovered. During the 60s and 70s, the Hong Kong branch of the KMT was led by former general and football coach Lee Wai-tong. After Lee’s death in 1979, the party would be led by union leader Pang Chun-hoi.


(Lee Wai-tong)

During this time, Hong Kong became a cultural powerhouse in Asia. The music and film industries were more profitable than their mainland counterparts for a long time. Many mainland actors and singers went to Hong Kong. While Hong Kong films were mostly popular in the Chinese speaking world, Kung Fu films were popular worldwide. The two actors most associated with this genre were Bruce Lee and Chan Kong-sang [1]. These two men added to the fame of the city. Part of the success of Hong Kong in the mid to late 20th century can be explained by its freedom relative to mainland China. Censorship was much more relaxed. This would remain the case up until Li Ao became president of China.


(Chan Kong-sang)

A form of representative government came to Hong Kong in 1983. Three major parties contested elections there; the KMT, the Hong Kong Democratic Party, and the Socialist Party. The KMT won the 1983 elections, while the Democrats and Socialists formed a coalition in 1987. The Hong Kong Democrats won an outright majority in 1991, but the Hong Kong KMT returned to power in 1995. Chan Kong-sang helped organize for the Hong Kong Democrats, though he drifted towards the KMT later in life. Democracy in Hong Kong helped inspire democratic reforms in mainland China in the late 80s and early 90s. During the 1980s, Chinese President Chiang Ching-kuo entered into negotiations with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher about the fate of Hong Kong in 1997. The UK affirmed that it would hand over Hong Kong when the 99-year lease ended. Hong Kong would be given some limited autonomy within China, like Macau.

By 1997, Margaret Thatcher was no longer prime minister and Chiang Ching-kuo was dead. Elizabeth II was still the queen, and Charles was still the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles would attend the handover ceremony, as would Prime Minister Neil Kinnock and Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten. China would be represented by President Lien Chan, Premier Chiang Hsiao-wu, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Yuan Jiansheng. At 11:00 PM on June 9, Prince Charles read a farewell speech to the people of Hong Kong. God Save the Queen played as the Union Jack and the colonial flag of Hong Kong were lowered slowly right before midnight. Then, Sanmin Zhuyi played while the ROC Flag was raised. Lien Chan gave his speech. At 12 am on June 10, 1997, Hong Kong was transferred to China. The Chinese took great care to make sure that the ceremony would be reflective of friendship, not rivalry, between the United Kingdom and the Republic of China.


(Prince Charles and Chris Patten witness the handover of Hong Kong)

This event is regarded by many as the end of the British Empire. 97% of the population of Britain’s overseas territories lived in Hong Kong in 1997. It was also the last major population center to be returned to Chinese sovereignty. For young people in both Britain and China, the handover had less significance than it had for their grandparents, who had grown up in a very different world. In 1997 there were still people who were alive when the 99-year lease had been signed. Among them was Soong Mei-ling, widow of Chiang Kai-shek. She was just a three-month old baby when the lease was signed. During her early life, Britain was the most powerful country in the world. Even after America took Britain’s place, China was still far behind. Now, at 99, she was informed that Hong Kong had been returned to China. The century of humiliation was in the past. The world was entering a new era, one that would increasingly be defined by China.
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結語, Epilogue
小 小 的 蝴 蝶在某 個地 方拍 一下 翅膀,可能會有很大的影響。

A little butterfly flapping its wings can have a big impact.

-Ancient Chinese Proverb

If 1997 can be considered the end of the British Empire, then the empire where the sun never set ended not with a bang, but a whimper. Even if the British Empire was a thing of the past, Britain itself certainly was not. The United Kingdom would continue to be a power in its own right, even if most of its colonial holdings were gone. The same could be said for France, which kept more of its colonial empire (though only a fraction of what it controlled at the beginning of the century. Germany, newly reunified and having lost all its colonies 80 years earlier, continued to be an economic powerhouse.

On the other side of Europe, things were very different. The British Empire outlived the Soviet Union. In 1996, attempts were made to keep the USSR together. In most of the Republics, separatists won the elections, and in Russia, non-Communist candidates generally defeated reformist Communist candidates. By the Summer of 1996, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Armenia had seceded. Azerbaijan soon followed. There was still some hope that Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova might be able to stay unified, however. Ukraine and Kazakhstan would both declare independence in September, dealing a major blow to those who wanted to see the Soviet Union survive. Moldova declared independence, though there would be conflict with the newly declared Republic of Transnistria. By the end of 1996, the Russian and Belarussian SSRs formed a treaty to replace the USSR with the RBFR, Russian and Belarussian Federal Republic.

Though the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1996, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union continued to function in the post-Soviet states. The remaining Communist governments would fall too. North and South Yemen reunified in 1996, and North Korea’s regime was destroyed by Chinese and South Korean forces. By 1997, The People’s Revolutionary Party of Mongolia had moved away from Communism. The party would lose power to an explicitly anti-Communist party in 2002. Somalia’s Communist government fell. The Communist government in Mozambique was overthrown in 1998. The Iranian government moderated its version of Communism, which led to a failed coup in 1997. Tehran fell to US-backed Islamists in 1999 and the final Communist pockets surrendered in 2000. 1999 also saw the fall of Albania’s Communist government. In 2005, Angola became the final country to abandon Communism.

America declared victory in the Cold War. It was a major accomplishment for the right. This was a major factor in Jack Kemp and Bob Dole’s victory over Bill Clinton and Joe Biden in 1996. The Republican Party had won its fourth presidential victory in a row. The Democrats would make a comeback in the 1998 midterms and the 2000 presidential election. America would enter the 21st century as the undisputed military and economic power in the world, though it was uncertain how long this would continue.

In the third world, China was surpassing America as the top trade partner. At the same time, most of these countries saw and increasing standard of living. The demand for Chinese products would only increase. However, the Chinese standard of living would increase too, and Chinese wages would rise. Other countries would take advantage of this. The rise of China would cause fears worldwide of a future dominated by China. Time would tell if these fears were reasonable or not.

In China itself, Lien Chan had won the 1996 election, but not by much. An unpopular incumbent who had received less than 30% in the first round had come close to winning. The KMT looked at these results and determined to work hard to repair the party’s image. The Lien Chan administration, while not universally popular, cemented the KMT as a permanent fixture in Chinese politics. The KMT would be one of many parties competing for the votes of Chinese people.

October 31, 1997 was Chiang Kai-shek’s 110th birthday. Though he was no longer living, his grandson Chiang Hsiao-wu was. Chiang gave an interview in the Central Daily Magazine, where he talked about his grandfather. This is an excerpt from the interview:

Because my grandfather was present for so many of the great events in Chinese and world history, I’ve heard people speculate about how the world would be today if he had never taken power, or if he had done things differently while in power. This is my opinion of course, but I don’t think that any other political figure during the 1920s could have unified China. Chiang also understood what many back then did not. He knew that Communism was dangerous. He said that the Communists are a disease of the heart, and that the Japanese are a disease of the skin. He was referring the old Imperial Japan of course, not the modern Japan we know and love. Even Sun Yat-sen was fooled by the reds.

If Chiang Kai-shek had failed in repelling the Japanese, we’d live in a very dark world. Imagine the Rape of Nanking, but in every major city in China. And then there was the Civil War. I don’t know which outcome would have been worse; Japanese victory or Communist victory. If China had gone Communist, then there would be nothing to stop the spread of that deadly ideology throughout Asia. The Communists would destroy Chinese culture just like they did in Mongolia, North Korea, and Russia. Though I can’t say that it was only my family that prevented such great evils from befalling China and the world. I have to give credit to the Chinese soldiers who fought invaders and traitors. After the Civil War, Chiang was a unifying figure, who put China on its path back into greatness. Without him, China is in a worse place.

But I don’t know what would have happened, there’s no way of finding out.


(Chiang Hsiao-wu)

Others had different things to say about the former Chinese leader. They pointed out the authoritarianism and human rights abuses. China is still grappling with what to make of the legacy of Chiang Kai-shek. It’s a debate that continues to divide China, and one that is unlikely to end any time soon.

Premier Chiang Hsiao-wu would evade questions about a possible future presidential run. The question would soon be irrelevant as he died of congestive heart failure in 1998. He was survived by Chiang Ching-kuo’s two remaining children; his sister Chiang Hsiao-chang and his half-brother Chiang Hsiao-yen, who are still alive today. Chiang Kai-shek’s adopted son Chiang Wei-kuo died of kidney failure in 1997, only a few months after the transfer of Hong Kong. Soong Mei-ling would live to be 105, dying in 2003.

Soong Mei-ling was one of a shrinking number of people alive during the 21st century who were born during the Qing Dynasty. Chen Lifu was also among them, dying in 2001 at the age of 100. Some have said that Chen Lifu broke the Soviet Union by supporting Islamic anti-Communism worldwide. Another former president, Wang Sheng, would die in 2006. Former Vice President Lin Yang-kang took over the China Youth Party and died in 2013. Former President Li Ao would continue to be involved in politics, telling the media what he would be doing differently if he was in charge. He made no secret of his intentions to run for president in 2002. He died in 2018. Finally, Lien Chan is still alive, though he is no longer the president. He is currently enjoying his retirement in Shenyang. He occasionally gives interviews to the press.

As the Chinese Civil War grows more and more distant, its easy to forget about it. Every year, there are less and less living veterans. No one who fought in the early years of the war is still alive, though some who fought during the later years are. But it’s important to remember that their sacrifices helped make the world what it is today. As the ancient Chinese proverb says about the flaps of a butterfly’s wings, one event leads other events. History is full of such “What if?” moments. Who knows, if a Nationalist military offensive in Northeastern China in 1946 had gone differently, the world might be a very different place.


末尾 - THE END
So this is the end of the TL, sort of. I hope to eventually return to it.

I had been wanting to write about this back in 2017 but I realized that I didn't know enough about the subject to write a TL on it. So I went with William Jennings Bryan winning in 1896. Near the end of last year I finally came up with a good post-WWII PoD for a Nationalist victory and started messing around with rough drafts for chapters. I thought up a general trajectory for China and the world, and what the major events would be. I just filled in the details and got 116 chapters out of it. I planned this out to 1997 and thus I don't have very many ideas going forward. When I come up with a good idea for what to write going into the 21st century, I'll come back to this TL. Starting in December I am going to be very busy with work and thus I will be taking a long break from writing TLs (several months at least). I might start my fourth TL some time next year, though it will likely be much slower paced.

Thank you very much for everyone who has read and commented. In addition to the words of encouragement, your comments reminded me to cover certain countries and topics I might otherwise forget about. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Aw, sad to see this timeline end. Kinda curious how this China would react to the War on Terror (assuming it still happens ITTL).

Anyway, interesting choice to have Russia and Belarus stay unified post-Soviet collapse, and very interesting to see Communism completely wiped out as a political force of any significance anywhere.
Aw, sad to see this timeline end. Kinda curious how this China would react to the War on Terror (assuming it still happens ITTL).

Anyway, interesting choice to have Russia and Belarus stay unified post-Soviet collapse, and very interesting to see Communism completely wiped out as a political force of any significance anywhere.
There will be a War on Terror, and China will be affected, though I'm not sure what China will do in it.
Nice. I'm going to miss this TL but it had to end sometime. I would love to see something on China's military of the late 90's-early 2000's. What kind of equipment and are they using foreign stuff or are they going for homegrown designs. That sort of thing.

There will be a War on Terror, and China will be affected, though I'm not sure what China will do in it.
Perhaps getting involved by hitting to drug trade and illegal arms trade or anything that supports terrorist organizations.