Climbing Mount Everest isn't something that can be taken lightly. George Mallory's body wouldn't even be discovered until 1999. I'd hate for Wells to miss dying in a helicopter crash only to die and become one of Everest's collection of bodies.
Sure, Everest is dangerous, but the death rate has been about 1-2% since the Eighties. It's not like Wells wanted to do K2 or anything (that's 30%).
 
section 31 is quite different from SI, section 31 is almost the devils advocate and also the last line of defence. they are tasked with developing methods and tech that are far beyond the ethics of even SI.
and only to be used in cases of utmost urgency. section 31 shares that with an otl organisation like Gladio
i did like how in discovery Emperor Philippa Georgiou from the mirror universe, stranded in the trek timeline became part of section 31, giving them the ultimate different perspective.

Well Section 31 was intended as an agency so secret and with method so different from the general outlook of the federation that officially don't even exist, even the Tal'shiar know just rumors about her and there is no confirmation of her existence...naturally Discovery changed all that.:closedtongue:
Hell, their agents destroy their own brain in case of capture so nothing can be discovered, this mean a level of fanatism on par of the Romulan and Cardassian and the general outlook of Section is: The end justify the mean
 

wietze

Kicked
Well Section 31 was intended as an agency so secret and with method so different from the general outlook of the federation that officially don't even exist, even the Tal'shiar know just rumors about her and there is no confirmation of her existence...naturally Discovery changed all that.:closedtongue:
Hell, their agents destroy their own brain in case of capture so nothing can be discovered, this mean a level of fanatism on par of the Romulan and Cardassian and the general outlook of Section is: The end justify the mean
needs a nice latin motto then "exitus ācta probat"
 
I swear to Almighty God and all the saints, if somebody offered me a Trek-themed history eraser button, I would gladly nuke Deep Space Nine out of existence, eliminating hundreds of hours of quality television (and also "Profit and Lace" :v ) from the timeline if it meant that Section 31 and all it's edgelord meme bullshit would never find root in the franchise. I mean, if your best argument for the genocidal failson parade is "well the other guys have a brutal secret police that can do anything they want to anyone they want with no consequences or even oversight, so we need one too" then maybe you should take a nice long look in the mirror and see if you like what's there.
 
I'm just gonna say that I want Frank Wells to survive here.
I also want him to survive, but he could theoretically be lucky and survive Everest, with him becoming a politician in the future. Just putting it out there, though keeping him busy with Disney or politics is a surefire of making him survive well into the 2020s.

On Starfleet Intelligence, now I am picturing a work that's a James Bond Sci-Fi movie (no, not you, Moonraker) set in Star Trek's universe? That's novel for the HITHOM's audience. I suppose at least someone at Triad or Paramount would dig it.
I'd dig it as a spinoff. Maybe involving a character similar to Dr. Bashir.

I swear to Almighty God and all the saints, if somebody offered me a Trek-themed history eraser button, I would gladly nuke Deep Space Nine out of existence, eliminating hundreds of hours of quality television (and also "Profit and Lace" :v ) from the timeline if it meant that Section 31 and all it's edgelord meme bullshit would never find root in the franchise. I mean, if your best argument for the genocidal failson parade is "well the other guys have a brutal secret police that can do anything they want to anyone they want with no consequences or even oversight, so we need one too" then maybe you should take a nice long look in the mirror and see if you like what's there.
Well that's a bit extreme.

I do think they're going to make some dark intelligence agency regardless in the sequel series, either through Section 31 or Starfleet Intelligence, since the writers like Ronald D. Moore and Ira Behr are probably playing around with that concept. Heck, it might even be seen as inevitable considering the wartime decisions and political aftermath could make Intelligence or Section 31 be more unscrupulous for the Federation's interests. At least it'll be less jarring compared to DS9 where it was literally like "Surprise! We're a ultra secret rogue agency that no one knows about."
 
Canadian television is a topic that this timeline has failed to cover thus far. Would it be possible to cover it in a future update?
Probably because I honestly don't know anything about Canadian TV and have no idea where to start. There are a couple of mentions of Canadian shows (e.g. the Little House reframe, Nelvana cartoons) at least. I can try to put together a "Top Ten" or something if I get the time to research it, but I'm already stretched super-thin. If you or anyone has ideas please PM me. Same for Australian TV or Japanese TV or European TV or Indian TV or whatever.
 
Rising Dragon, Hidden Monkey
Generation 5 and the Cultural Awakening (1980-1995)
From Painting with Light: A History of Chinese Cinema


In 1984, Chinese cinema was about to take a great leap forward, as it were, and with lasting changes to Chinese art and international diplomacy. And the impetus of this change would be from the strangest of sources: an American adventure film.

Mask of the Monkey King was a watershed moment for us,” said Chinese filmmaker Chen Kaige. “For many, it was the first Hollywood film that they had ever seen. Visually it was far beyond what was being done domestically at the time. It had the grand cinematography of Xie Jin, but there was a dynamism in movement and editing that had long since been taken for granted in the West, but new to us. To see the magic of the special effects, the emotion of Spielberg’s subjective camera work, and the excitement of the action was something completely new for China.

“But the other side of the coin, of course, is that the story was so, well, wrong,” he continued. “The classic story of the Monkey King was butchered, of course, and many of us laughed at moments where we were not supposed to. Scandalously, many laughed, or at least suppressed laughter, at the Mao scenes! And yet Mr. Spielberg still made you care about these dumb Westerners even as they desecrated ancient temples. There was so much humanity to the characters, and many Chinese kids saw themselves in the young orphan boy Wu Li [Willy]. And one could not help but ask, why cannot China make such films?[1]”

Steven Spielberg’s Mask of the Monkey King: An Indiana Jones Adventure, was the first major American film made in the People’s Republic of China, and it was made with the guarded support of the Communist Party. The Party required edits for the domestic Chinese cut, which removed the supernatural elements and further demonized the Kuomintang and Japanese. Even so, the government was shocked at the popularity of the foreign film with Chinese audiences, which set off an internal debate on whether to allow such a thing ever again. Conservatives like Li Peng saw the film as a threat to Maoist values, even with the scenes that lionized Mao, while reformists like Hu Qili advocated opening up the country to more Western films, properly edited to remove reactionary content. In what is rumored to have been a very tight vote, it was decided to experiment with more Western films.

The obvious first choice was Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones adventure. The enemies being Fascists appealed to the Party. However, the graphic violence and overt religious elements appalled the dedicated Maoists. The resulting editing to remove these unwanted elements led to some very awkward jumps and plot holes and required a specially filmed sequence be added featuring “Russian soldiers” (all obviously Han actors) supposedly running in to save Indy and Marion in the end, since the climactic opening of the ark scene was cut.

This in turn led, naturally, to that other Lucasfilm series Star Wars. On the surface the overtly democratic “rebellion” and mystical “Force” elements presented a problem, at least until director and producer George Lucas explained that the film was a parable about the Vietnam war, with the Rebellion being the North Vietnamese and the Empire the Nixonian United States[2]. The government realized that with some simple dialog changes and a custom opening crawl that openly described this as a fictional fable based upon socialist struggles against imperialism rather than anything “real” (to cover for the Force elements), that the film made an excellent Maoist parable of a small group of dedicated communists overcoming a reactionary imperialist army. Star Wars and its sequels did quite well thanks to the jaw-dropping special effects and clever twists, and opened the door to further western films, including Disney animation[3].

The success of the edited Western films, and the apparent success of the government in coopting them into Maoist parables teaching Maoist values, led to even more such Western films being admitted over the years, properly edited to remove any reactionary content, of course.

But even the edited versions of the Western films struck many viewers with some of the implicit things in the screenplay. And these implicit ideas led to certain ideologically unorthodox thinking.

“I was twenty when [Mask of the Monkey King] came out,” said director Zhang Yuan. “And of course I saw the official Party cut. But even then I could sense that Spielberg had slipped in something subtle and yet ironic. Like he was pointing out the flawlessness of Mao and his soldiers to the point of absurdity, an empty icon rather than a man. I was too old to identify with Wu Li, who I found to be a little brat, but I loved Hoú and I knew that he was magical. He was overtly presented as the ‘dumb muscle’ trope, but always there was a cleverness to him such that I quickly surmised that he must be the true Monkey King and I quivered with anticipation that he’d get the mask and reveal his true form in the end.

“I was very upset with Mr. Spielberg when Hoú was shown to be a madman and the mask powerless. It was only later when I saw the director’s cut that I finally got to see the transformation that I’d dreamed of, even if the eating of the heart-peach was a rather…bizarre interpretation of the story to say the least. And yet even censored, I could feel the magic in the story. The Party had made Mr. Spielberg cut out the magical aspects because they were afraid that it would suggest that Mao was concealing a truth of religion and the supernatural in opposition to Marxist atheist and humanist principles, but the implicit magic was still there. I learned to use such clever subtext over the years in my own films to slip some rather radical ideas past the state censors.”

The early 1980s were a transformative time in Chinese cinema with those now known as the “Fifth Generation” of Chinese filmmakers graduating from the Beijing Film Academy in 1982. They had grown up in a world defined by the Cultural Revolution and been educated in its aftermath. “Scar films” depicting the post-traumatic reactions of a culture coming-to-terms with a devastating period in its history were common. It was a time where the perpetual pendulum of Chinese artistic expression was swinging back from the heavily repressive towards the more freely expressive, with many of Generation 5 interested in openly exploring subjects that would have been taboo a few years earlier. Tian Zhuangzhuang, for example, would release his On the Hunting Ground in 1985 and The Horse Thief the very next year, both films that explored the complex lives of Chinese ethnic minority communities. This latter film, which explored the life of the titular ethnic Tibetan thief, would be discovered by a Hollywood location scout and see an “arthouse” distribution by Orion Films, ultimately becoming the first Chinese film nominated for a Best Foreign Language Academy Award in 1987. Martin Scorsese declared it one of the best films ever made[4].

220px-The_Horse_Thief_%281986%29_Film_Poster.jpg


Despite their popularity in the West, Tian’s films were attracting the ire of the Party authorities and traditionalists, who saw them as “elitist”. And yet the popularity of the film abroad and the ironic positivity its warm reception brought to the people and culture of China itself were openly accepted by Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping, who saw it as a useful tool in his plans for opening China to the wider world after two generations of isolation. This international acclaim came on the heels of the shocking impact of the Western films cleared for release on the Chinese people, and would soon be followed by the massive global success of Japanese animation, in particular My Neighbor Totoro. These facts combined made the potential power of Chinese films as cultural exports obvious to Deng and his advisors.

It was around this time that Deng’s reforms took on a symbolic new name: the Lotus Model, so named for a speech Deng gave to the Chinese Communist Party that some attribute to Zhang Yimou, though he denied authorship. Deng compared the plan to “the glorious opening of a lotus flower in the morning sun” for all to see and appreciate, even as its roots spread through the lakebed. The idea was that as the rest of the world marveled in China’s growth and beauty, the nation would quietly build its strength and implant itself into the world order, rooted too deeply to be easily ripped out.

The soft power potential of Chinese cinema became the newest and potentially most outwardly glorious aspect of the Lotus Plan. Deng and his advisors decided to take a three-way path on Chinese film. First, “Melody Drama” musicals would entertain the masses in the most theoretically harmless way possible. Second, the Fifth Generation dramatic filmmakers would be given a certain amount of freedom to pursue their own art, so long as it didn’t cross any specific red lines. And third, “Grand Adventure Films” featuring dynamic action, fantasy, science fiction, or historical elements would be pursued to compete with Western blockbusters. The Hong Kong martial arts tradition and traditional Wuxia stories and even the old revolutionary model operas would be used as a uniquely Chinese foundation for such Grand Adventure Films, though most borrowed heavily from Hollywood at first. These latter two categories would be made with an export market in mind, with international soft power influence being a central objective for the government.

“We graduated from the Beijing Film Institute with a mix of both excitement and trepidation,” said filmmaker Zhang Yimou, who became equally famous for both his emotional dramas and his Grand Adventure Films. “We had these glorious ideas on how to elevate Chinese filmmaking in a way that the world would be forced to take notice. And yet we knew all too well that a shift in priorities in Beijing could see a return to the tightly controlled days of our childhood. As such, we adopted a certain level of fatalism and largely chose to live in the moment.”

Deng’s government worked to actively recruit (some would say co-opt) the ambitious young filmmakers of Generation 5. Deng hoped to use the power of the art of film to charm and impress foreign leaders. When Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev came on a state visit in January of 1989 and George W. Bush came on a State Visit in February of 1989 both were treated to a Chinese film festival among other entertainments[5]. Films were also screened to local visitors at Chinese embassies and foreign missions. They became, along with displays of traditional and later popular music and theater, a standard arm of Chinese “hearts and minds” diplomacy.

Hai_zi_wang_%281987%29_Film_Poster.jpg


However, traditional hardliners within the government were nonplused by such “cultural excesses”. Many took open offense at some of the dramatic films of Generation 5 in particular. Many of these filmmakers were pushing the limits of their new creative freedom beyond the breaking point. This came to a head in the spring of 1989 when protests over the end of produce subsidies grew into larger pro-democracy and pro-free-speech demonstrations, the largest in Tiananmen Square. Hardliners, in particular Li Peng, were calling for a violent crackdown while reformists like Hu Qili were openly sympathizing with the protestors. Deng stayed aloof to it all, as did many high ranking officials like Qiao Shi and Jiang Zemin, who never tipped their hand on which option they supported.

And then young filmmaker Zhang Yuan, a senior at the Beijing Film Institute and member of the upcoming “Generation 6” of filmmakers, visited the protests and began making a documentary, reportedly with the tacit permission from one of his instructors. The very idea that one of the very filmmakers that Deng had controversially given a degree of freedom would be giving a wider voice to these “counterrevolutionary anarchists” became a point of strong debate between the hardline and reformist factions. General Secretary Zhao Ziyang imposed himself into the debate, seeking to shut down both sides and seek a unified message. He personally vetoed a plan by Li Peng to publish a strongly worded editorial in the People’s Daily which would have branded the protests as anti-government and anti-party, effectively declaring them outlaws[6].

_107211234_tiananmen_protest.jpg

(Image source BBC)

Zhang Yuan was called before the government and asked to show what he had filmed. Zhang gladly showed his footage, or at least the bits of it that he’d preselected for the meeting, and sold a story of young patriots who loved their country and just wanted an end to corruption and an opportunity to aid in the glory of the Middle Kingdom. To say that it was a strategic edit would be a monumental understatement, and even most of the assembled party officials recognized it as misleading, and yet it sewed enough doubt in the portrayal of the protestors by the hardliners as nothing but “counterrevolutionary anarchists” that Deng was willing to permit limited talks with the protest leaders, though with the Red Army activated and standing by just outside of the city.

Tianasquare.jpg


The talks are famous now, and the subject of a carefully edited official state documentary about the events along with several other outside documentaries, so I won’t fully recount them here. But between the “carrot” of a good-faith willingness to speak with the protestors and the “stick” of the Red Army just outside of the city limits, the protest leaders reached a handshake deal with the government in May of 1989. In the end, all but the most dedicated protestors (who were easily, though violently, rounded up by People’s Armed Police) went home in exchange for a promise from Deng himself to continue his anti-corruption campaigns, a continuation of his gradual loosening of free speech restrictions, and continued expansion of his “democratic” reforms (in reality an extension of his views on “democratic centralism”). The talks would see one of Deng's reforms, the selection of local leaders by direct election, implemented at intermediate levels of governance as well—so long as all candidates had all been properly vetted by the Party, or were Party members in good standing themselves, of course[7].

Many democracy advocates around the world celebrated this “bloodless revolution” in their naivete, heralding the moment as a “turning point” in Chinese freedom. It wasn’t, of course, for the party maintained its firm and uncontested control of the government and controls on speech and activity remained tight. The more radical of pro-democracy activists in China were upset at the “capitulation” to the central government. It also managed to infuriate the hardliners like Li, who feared that the “capitulation” to protestor demands, however insignificant, would lead to further troubles and who, more ominously, felt that their views were being increasingly shut out of the discussion.

For Deng, the bloodless end of the massive protests was a further boon to his “Lotus” model for global engagement. He spun the event as a sign of Chinese civilization as opposed to the barbarity of the outside world, in particular citing the chaos and violence often seen with protests in Western democracies. It played well with his soft power cultural blitz.

However, by late 1989 his term as Paramount Leader was coming to an end, to be replaced by Qiao Shi[8]. The Lotus had a long way to go before it was fully “open” and the roots had a long way to go before they were firmly entrenched. It would be up to his successor to keep the momentum going, or to reverse course entirely.



[1] Some reports say that Kung Fu Panda, of all things, had a similarly profound impact on Chinese cinematic and cultural perceptions.

[2] True, apparently. Read about it here.

[3] A Small World with its anticolonial themes will be highly promoted and widely beloved, but Mort and The Black Cauldron will be banned for being too overtly supernatural. After much debate, Where the Wild Things Are will be given a limited screening despite “promoting undesirable youth behavior”. Maus is shown, The Song of Susan is banned, and after one look at The Ballad of Edward Ford the Party had a “let’s never speak of this again” moment.

[4] As he did in our timeline when it reached the US in the 1990s. Here it arrived years earlier.

[5] Gorbachev’s visit was moved up a few weeks to be done ahead of Bush’s visit, with Gorbachev rather concerned about the news coming out of Yugoslavia (the shifting politics of Federation vs. Nationalism in the late 1980s) and is growingly suspicious of the CIA’s intentions there. The critical part of this change is that Gorbachev will not be visiting China during the Tiananmen Square protests as he did in our timeline, which caused great embarrassment for China and greatly raised the stakes…and the ire of the hardliners.

[6] In our timeline Zhao left for North Korea on an already scheduled meeting and Li published the letter on April 26th. The protestors took it as a threat and rather than be scared into submission as Li hoped, were outraged, turning the protests overtly anti-government and setting the stage for a massacre. In this timeline all the accumulated changes have meant that Zhao was on hand to quell Li’s editorial and instead maintain the neutral front.

[7] Special hat-tip to David Wostyn, author of the Superpower Empire timeline and book series, starting at With Iron and Fire, for help in determining the China butterflies for this timeline.

[8] Qiao was the odds-on favorite to take over from Deng in our timeline, but for reasons that aren’t particularly clear (behind the scenes deals?) a relatively unknown and undistinguished bureaucrat named Jiang Zemin took the job. Here, Qiao managed to play his hand well during the Tiananmen Crisis and narrowly won the job as a compromise candidate between the hardline and reformist factions. Here his law & order experience and reputation combined with a relatively benign view from the student protestors (Tiananmen leader and activist Wang Dan said “Although Qiao Shi is a master of illusions, it's possible that he could lead China toward more enlightened rule.”) makes him acceptable to all sides, though his mercurial reputation makes him a bit of a worrying mystery for some.
 
Steven Spielberg’s Mask of the Monkey King: An Indiana Jones Adventure, - well score one for Spielberg there.

Edited Star Wars in China? Wonder how much the toy sales where worth....

The Lotus Plan is quite genius in its own way. Like other such plans, spreading your tentacles through the world and taking root. Nasty and usually successful.

Round of applause to Zhang Yuan for ingenious thinking there!

Tiananmen Square protests end on a handshake rather than a massacre- that sounds like a good deal, esp if some genuine reform came of it, even if it is a long way from democracy. One wonder what effect this will have on Hong Kong?

Interesting chapter indeed @Geekhis Khan
 
The minute I saw China, I knew Tiananmen was going to be involved, I'm just glad it was averted, and I agree with Ogre in that I hope it leads to democracy. Can't wait to see how its movies start affecting things under the Lotus Plan.

Hopefully China's government can realise having magic in moves doesn't give truth to religion.
 
“But the other side of the coin, of course, is that the story was so, well, wrong,” he continued. “The classic story of the Monkey King was butchered, of course, and many of us laughed at moments where we were not supposed to. Scandalously, many laughed, or at least suppressed laughter, at the Mao scenes! And yet Mr. Spielberg still made you care about these dumb Westerners even as they desecrated ancient temples. There was so much humanity to the characters, and many Chinese kids saw themselves in the young orphan boy Wu Li [Willy]. And one could not help but ask, why cannot China make such films?[1]”



[1] Some reports say that Kung Fu Panda, of all things, had a similarly profound impact on Chinese cinematic and cultural perceptions.
On what exactly that question regarding Kung Fu Panda meant, varies from Chinese to Chinese, but two videos I'd heartily recommend everyone are those by Accented Cinema and Xiran Jay Zhao, giving their own differing takes on the matter, on the why and the when. Because, as the quote hints at, it ultimately isn't about the accuracy of the Chinese culture at display, but rather something more... intrinsic.
 
Well this is interesting. Not only has China slowly begun to reform itself economically but also culturally with the Lotus Model. Acceptance of Western media (albeit censored) and encouraging the next generation of filmmakers to create new Chinese films will surely accelerate both its exposure to the outside world and the soft power of its own entertainment industry. Very similar to South Korea's own plans for soft power expansion so we could easily see them as very competitive rivals for the 90s and the 00s.

While I can see Chinese live action films be considered to be critically acclaimed right of the gate, Chinese animation is going to have a much harder time trying to catch up with Japan and America, as was OTL. The Cultural Revolution practically decimated the industry and it doesn't seem like Deng is interested in investing the resources to revive it. So I can easily see it stay silent for much of the TL as Mainland China gets awards and recognition for its live action films, at least until someone like Disney creates a critically successful animated film.

As for Tiananmen Square, I'm glad that Deng Xiaoping and the rest of the Communist Party managed to defuse the situation instead of leading it to violence, but I have my doubts on whether China will become even more democratic than OTL. I think it will require far more changes before I am convinced, but Qiao Shi could be the person that can transition China towards democratization.

[3] A Small World with its anticolonial themes will be highly promoted and widely beloved, but Mort and The Black Cauldron will be banned for being too overtly supernatural. After much debate, Where the Wild Things Are will be given a limited screening despite “promoting undesirable youth behavior”. Maus is shown, The Song of Susan is banned, and after one look at The Ballad of Edward Ford the Party had a “let’s never speak of this again” moment.
It'll be interesting to see how Disney is going to expand into the Chinese market, despite its more progressive leanings compared to its OTL counterpart, especially when it comes to LGBTQ rights. I don't think it will be as bad as it is OTL, but I won't be surprised if Disney turns the other cheek when the CCP censors LGBTQ content from some or all of their films.
 
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It'll be interesting to see how Disney is going to expand into the Chinese market, despite its more progressive leanings compared to its OTL counterpart, especially when it comes to LGBTQ rights. I don't think it will be as bad as it is OTL, but I won't be surprised if Disney turns the other cheek when the CCP censors LGBTQ content from some or all of their films.
Or, Disney decides not to reward China for its bigotry and opts to not release any of its films there.

On a less controversial note, just now I thought Triad, instead of having separate animation divisions for Paramount and 20th Century and/or Fox, instead creates a Triad Animation for all its 2D productions, maybe even incorporating Filmation (which 20th Century owns) into it.
 
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