AHC: Institutional Continuity with Imperial China in Modern China

OTL's China in 2020 has essentially no institutional continuity with those of China pre-1912. Multiple revolutions, purges, wars, etc. since that time have made it so that the current government of the People's Republic of China is essentially a distinct entity from that of earlier imperial times. This is quite different from the older dynastic changes, where in many cases, much of the instruments and institutions used in the governing of China were conserved when a new regime established itself.

Modern China's government is broadly Western in structure, and even though it is not a Liberal Democracy, it has bodies like the National Peoples' Congress that are copied from or influenced by Western government structures. Of course, the PRC was also founded as a Marxist regime, and adopting a Western political ideology as the fundamental governing ideology of the nation is a large break from the Imperial government. Even though you could make a fair argument that it is less Marxist today, the political ideologies and ideas motivating modern Chinese political actors generally come from Western political science and social theories, and not any type Confucianism.

The challenge here is to conserve as much of late Imperial China's institutions as you deem possible in 2020 China- the Imperial Exam/Scholar-Gentry, The Administrative Structure, State Support for Confucianism, The Emperor/Imperial Rites, and others. The POD can't be earlier than 1600 or outside of East Asia.
 
Have Yuan Shikai be more effective after he declared himself emperor, and have him or his heir defeat the KMT. He institutes some reforms, but keeps a lot of the old structure. (Of course, this is a post-1900 POD, so may not be what you are looking for).
 
Have Yuan Shikai be more effective after he declared himself emperor, and have him or his heir defeat the KMT. He institutes some reforms, but keeps a lot of the old structure. (Of course, this is a post-1900 POD, so may not be what you are looking for).

I just thought it would be too ASB at that point because the movement for major reform was already so large, and OTL he was so unsuccessful.
 
I just thought it would be too ASB at that point because the movement for major reform was already so large, and OTL he was so unsuccessful.
How about he restores the imperial institution without declaring himself an emperor? He passes the presidency to his son like many modern dictators.

With enough time, he and his successors should be able to purge local warlords.
 
How about he restores the imperial institution without declaring himself an emperor? He passes the presidency to his son like many modern dictators.

With enough time, he and his successors should be able to purge local warlords.
The question is why would he do this?
OTL he called himself and emperor and didn't even restore the imperial structure. Even as he declared himself emperor OTL, he introduced legal modernizations.
There was a massive break in institutional memory when the Qing dynasty ended and was replaced by the KMT and its new-quasi democratic government, with cabinets and parliaments and presidents.
Yuan himself helped cause, and maybe even was one of the primary causes of the warlord problem OTL by appointing provincial military governors- these men were not the scholar-gentry.
For evidence pointing to the massive philosophical and institutional break between Yuan and the men of his political generation and the imperial government, consider how Yuan declared himself emperor: he convened a "Representative Assembly" which voted to offer him the throne unanimously. Sure, it was all show, but it was the wrong kind of show, and it spoke to the spirit of the age. It tacitly denies the doctrine of the mandate of Heaven, indeed of Confucianism as a whole- do children vote to confirm their parents?

The idea of passing the "presidency" to his son is also totally fraught- OTL his sons fought over the succession.

And that is all ignoring the fact that Yuan was so hated, both by the Chinese and by other countries, it is a massive wank to even have him succeed.

Basically, by 1912, the social and political institutions of imperial China were destroyed. The Chinese themselves no longer supported them, and the new political class of the age came from a totally different mindset towards politics, a very non-Imperial one. Yuan had every opportunity to re-institute the three departments and six ministries or whatever, or at least try to even before he was 'emperor', but he didn't because he was never going to be the man to do that, and the China in which that would have happened had already died, people just didn't realize it until the tottering Qing finally fell. That is why I posted in before 1900; by the late Qing, it is far, far too late to save the Imperial system excluding extreme ASB/wank- by 1912? Forget it.
 
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The Chinese themselves no longer supported them, and the new political class of the age came from a totally different mindset towards politics, a very non-Imperial one.
I agree with most of your statements with exception to that one. I don't believe the support for imperial institution was dead in the early republic. Yuan was a failure because he lack credibility. He was the one who destroyed the old system, (abolishment of imperial exam in 1905). These, who supported him, were supporters of the new republic. He should not have counted on these supporters.

Back to the original question, I believe if the hundred day's reform had been more successful, the institution could have been preserved. For example if the reform was headed by Zhang Zhidong, the pace of the reform would be much slower. There would be more supporters.
 
I agree with most of your statements with exception to that one. I don't believe the support for imperial institution was dead in the early republic. Yuan was a failure because he lack credibility. He was the one who destroyed the old system, (abolishment of imperial exam in 1905). These, who supported him, were supporters of the new republic. He should not have counted on these supporters.

Back to the original question, I believe if the hundred day's reform had been more successful, the institution could have been preserved. For example if the reform was headed by Zhang Zhidong, the pace of the reform would be much slower. There would be more supporters.

But wasn't one of the 100 day reform demands to abolish the Imperial Examination? To me, the Imperial Examination is just as important of a part of (post-Sui) Imperial China as the Emperor (c.f. my introductory post). If the ATL ends with the Imperial Examination going away but the emperor staying, it would be even more of a failure than counterfactual proposal of the Emperor going away but the exam staying- at least that would keep the Confucian bureaucracy alive. The expansion of the exam to cover other topics like Western mathematics and science, or the addition of these topics as subsections to qualify for newly created posts to advanced Chinese industry isn't out of the question, but since I believe many of the 100 day reform supporters, including Zhang Zhidong wanted to do away with the exams entirely, their success would surely prove fatal to the entire enterprise.
 
Doubtful about premise of this thread. Similarity between scholar-gentry class and communist cadre system had been noted by many. China is still heavily bureaucratic state, strong local government, and very secular (antireligious) culture. All characteristics inherited from Imperial China.
 
Doubtful about premise of this thread. Similarity between scholar-gentry class and communist cadre system had been noted by many. China is still heavily bureaucratic state, strong local government, and very secular (antireligious) culture. All characteristics inherited from Imperial China.
If that were the case, then we can argue that modern-day France has characteristics inherited from Louis XIV, and modern-day Russia has characteristics inherited from the Czars. I'm not denying it, but it's a stretch either way.
 
Doubtful about premise of this thread. Similarity between scholar-gentry class and communist cadre system had been noted by many. China is still heavily bureaucratic state, strong local government, and very secular (antireligious) culture. All characteristics inherited from Imperial China.
Equating a Confucianist moralistic order with a Western import that actively fought to destroy that system (see: the entire history of China from 1950 to 1976) is silly. The only similarity is that they are both two orders of ideologically-based, authoritarian, ruling classes. That isn't very special. Any system capable of generating such a strong philosophical or ideological movement could have done the same. Also important to note is that we see the same type of Communist system occur with little difference in the Soviet Union- more proof that this "similarity" is a mere function of the two classes having a similar role in their respective society, and not deep, institutional heritage which was the point of this prompt.

Secondly, the US is a heavily bureaucratic state. All modern nations with few exceptions are heavily bureaucratic states, due to the challenges of running countries in a relatively centralized manner. The Chinese, being one of the first nations in history to face this challenge, developed a bureaucracy very early. Simply having a bureaucracy, again, is not evidence of institutional continuity. Zhang Zhidong, previously mentioned in this thread, had his grave desecrated by Red Guards. I doubt that they viewed themselves as carrying on the legacy of Imperial China. To suggest so either misunderstands to prompt or is absurd.

The 2nd Reich, Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany and West/East Germany had extensive bureaucracies- is this evidence for significant institutional memory and continuity between these governments??

Finally, to call Imperial China "secular" is to stretch the meaning of the term excessively. Imperial China had a Ministry of Rites, some its duties were giving ritual offerings. Just because they don't follow an Abrahamic Religion and had a moralistic philosophy concerned with living your life virtuously in this world, doesn't make it secular, and it certainly doesn't make it "antireligious".

The entire concept of secularity is a Communist import from the Western world- what official church was there to separate from the state in Imperial China? Besides Confucianism which is 1. not a church in the Western sense and 2. was incorporated into its government?

Calling Imperial China antireligious is absolutely absurd- occasionally it laicized Buddhist monks and confiscated monasteries, but those actions were taken primarily for pragmatic reasons. Imperial China tolerated Islam, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, and many others within its borders- Catholic Jesuit priests even had the ear of late Ming/ early Qing emperors, more so than their own Grand Secretaries in some cases! Christians were proselytizing in China, and until the final Conservative spasms of the dying Qing and after a certain lunatic had used a very warped version of Christianity to instigate one of the most violent conflicts in human history, very little was done about it so long as it didn't interfere with public order.

The entire concept of anti-religious doesn't make sense in the context of Imperial China given the fact that it was not a post-Enlightenment Christian European country in which those concepts of secularism etc. were created, and again, if anything Imperial China was a deeply religious society, with a number of important rituals, traditions, folk beliefs, deities and bodhisattvas, popular philosophies- all suppressed later on in Modern China! How can a country that legitimized its rulers by claiming a mandate from Heaven, who ritually prayed at an altar annually for good harvests be seriously entertained as some secular, anti-religious society in the mold of a modern socialist nation? Any Chinese Communist could have told you that!

In short, rather than being doubtful about the premise of this thread, I am seriously doubtful about the core premises of your objections to it, and I think that most reasonable people would conclude the same.
 
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