The Roman control over the Red Sea is questionable, and it will be even more tenuous the moment muslims in Egypt and the rest of the Empire understand what exactly a Crusade is. They'll need a sustained military operation in Arabia or seize control of Mesopotamia (thereby having control of the Persian Gulf ports) to actually have a stable trade route. The major investments in the area are actually very, very risky-they have yielded huge dividends so far, but it can go up in smoke fast. It is also much easier to evade taxes when it is trade and not land (they can't quite hide the land, but cooking the books on the other hand....) The Italians also have money to lobby Constantinople to take sides against problematic families (which may fit the Emperor's agenda) or pay Crusaders to ensure they get first dibs on any Mesopotamian ports and cut Egyptian trade out of the loop completely.Keeping the great families focused on trade is an excellent way of keeping the Empire focused on expansion and keeping those pesky Italian states out. Once they get a taste of the riches of the Indian/SEA spice trade will the Dynatoi even want to reclaim their estates over building more red sea ships?
The dynatoi may not want to reclaim their exact estates, but they will be buying land like anything once the land ceiling laws disappear (Basils II and III were strongly for these, Ioannes II was neutral, but Giorgios I and Alexandros IV are both firmly in the army faction and this is nowhere close to being the top law for them to enforce). There will be massive lobbying in Constantinople to allow large estates again should the trade routes suffer. The net trade deficit will also be troubling for the Empire, and they need to figure out how to stop specie from vanishing east.
The obvious solution of course is for the dynatoi to set up corporations that will own India/China/Spice Islands and pay the Roman Government to provide military muscle. Good luck with making that happen anytime soon.
I liked the AoM Heraklian Islands The Phillipines are an obvious base for dealing with China but the Romans are a long way off from that. I am also not letting the Angeloi anywhere close to the throne (that'll meet the dystopia criteria, but go in a direction I am a tad opposed to). Same with the Laskarids (unfortunately in this case). The Empire has internationalized beyond the old names, and the Makedonians may well be replaced by Suleiman Burji (I mean Solomon Bourtzes) or Roger (I mean, Rogerios) HautevilleI just have this image of the Phillipines being called the Laskarids or the Angelid Archiapeligo
Please, let this happen!
OK, the last bit was a bit excessive and tongue in cheek-but the possibilities are endless. Let's not forget Phillip is also a rather Greek name