The Mandarin Observer - A Chinese ATL

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So what's this timeline about?

This is basically a reboot of a timeline I made in the Writer's Forum called A Thousand Requests? No, Only A Single Threat. While I was writing that timeline, I realized that I was making things up as I go along in the framing device and I didn't want to complete a product that I deemed to be of inferior quality..

This timeline basically asks what if the Qing Dynasty never fell in 1912.

How is this TL going to be represented?

Basically, it's going to be in the form of newspaper clippings, taken from a in-universe Chiense newspaper that begins publication one year after the POD. I decided I wanted to introduce this story in a more detailed style than in the framing device I was using before.

How long is this timeline going to be?

I have no idea. It will depend on how long I'm invested in this project.
January 1900 - The Traitor Dowager Cixi is Dead
Today, the former empress Dowager Cixi was executed by firing squad for treason against the Guangxu Emperor.

The former Empress, after spending a year under house arrest in the Summer Palace, was dressed in rags and taken in a horse-drawn prisoner cage to her trial. She faced two charges. The first was attempting to stage a coup de'tat against the Emperor two years ago and most recently, for attempting to give support to a failed uprising in Shandong Province last year. This latter charge is believed to be what prompted the trial in the first place.

In the first trial-by-jury in our glorious history, the prosecutor, representing the Great Qing, showed numerous letters of support for the uprising written by the accused. The prosecutor proclaimed that the accused was guilty of trying to convince military officers to abandon the Emperor and support the rebellion, in an attempt to restore her position on the throne. During a cross-examination, the prosecutor asked the accused, who chose to represent herself. "Are you aware that because of the rebellion, eight nations were gathering to invade our Motherland and tear it asunder, like they have so many other times?" to which Cixi proclaimed "The Emperor has done worse",

The trial's star witness was Yuan Shiikai, General of the Newly Created Army. He admitted that in 1898, he was approached by individuals representing the EMpress in an attempt to turn him against the Emperor, but he remained loyal to the Emperor instead, leading to the coup's collapse.

The verdict was unanimous in confirming Cixi's guilt. She was executed at midnight last night. She was dressed in a black dress and she has been denied all burial rites, as she is to be cremated.

The death of the traitor is to be celebrated as a event marking the transition from our ancient past towards a bolder and more glorious future. China is ready to stand with the rest of the world as a equal partner, if only we are treated fairly.


The former Empress in the 1890s, just before her failed coup attempt
October 1911-Editorial: Sun-Yat-Sen should remain silent and keep his mad, genocidal hypocrisy to himself.
Sun Yat-Sen, popular agitator, has denounced a proposal by the Parliament to give provinces more autonomy in the management of their own railways. He called the proposal 'tantamount to ceding parcels of territory to foreigners'.

Sun Yat-Sen, of all people, should know better than to engge in hypocritical slander of a government who he has called to be overthrown. It should not be forgotten that Sun-Yat-Sen is a criminal, fleeing from justice and like a criminal, he has dishonestly sold himself as a man of virtue to foreigners in an attempt to earn foreign support for his numerous failed uprisings. He is a servant of foreigners, most prominently Japan and the United States. In particular, he has called for an American style government in The Motherland. Ignore for the moment that there has never been a legitimate republican movement in Chinese history (one that is not influenced by foreign powers), but does he really think a republic, a system where politicians are appointed by popular sovereignty and not by a supreme leader, could function in China? He has shown absolute loathing for our culture. An act of vandalism against a sacred shrine in Cuiheng resulted in his banishment to the British occupied territory of Hong Kong. While his villagers suffered in poverty, he lapped it up in Hong Kong and is continuing to enjoy prosperity in Japan and Hawaii, respectively.

While it is true that Cuiheng is poor, Guangdong Province as whole will benefit from this legislation. Imagine the prosperity that the province will receive as a result of new railways. While it may give foreigners control over parcels of Chinese soil, it is better for the country that the foreigners control small parcels of land, than the entire country as SUn-Yat-Sen would ensure. In the latest attempt to combat corruption, the companies that will be created from this legislation will not be commanded by the Government, but by boards of trustees appointed by the provinces. In a way, this legislation will allow the local governments to institute democracy within their jurisdictions. But, no, Sun doesn't want this. He wants foreigners paying him to overthrow Our Emperor and replace him with a meaningless 'presidency'.

Sun's poison is already spreading to the villages, which could benefit most from this legislation. THe flag of the 'Revive-China Society', has been spotted at unsanctioned gatherings, which were broken up by troops of the Imperial Chinese Army. These people are un-educated and lack the knowledge to see a snake oil salesman for what it is. Yes, technically, the flag of the Revive China Society is allowed under the 1899 Constitution, but by that same token, you are allowed to kill yourself under the law. Should we all just throw our heads into nooses and kick the bucket?

If Sun ever does achieve power in China, then he will no doubt, massacre the people who he feels have destroyed China, the Manchus. When he proclaimed his rebellion against the government, he said the following.

In order to restore our national independence, we must first restore the Chinese nation. In order to restore the Chinese nation, we must drive the barbarian Manchus back to the Changbai Mountains. In order to get rid of the barbarians, we must first overthrow the present tyrannical, dictatorial, ugly, and corrupt Qing government. Fellow countrymen, a revolution is the only means to overthrow the Qing government!
You read that correctly. In some delusional attempt to 'restore the Chinese nation', Sun threatened to exterminate an entire ethnic group of Chinese people. He is a madman in all respects and the fact that some people listen to him should be a cause for sadness and frustration.

It is the opinion of this newspaper that SUn-Yat-Sen is a conman, a traitor and a madman, all at once and as a result, he should be ignored, lest we jump into the abyss he has planned for country.
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Nice beginning and I like the style of the use of articles. I look forward to future posts about this Alt China.
26th August 1914 - The Great Qing declares war on the German Empire, signs treaty with Japan
Prime Minister Liang Qichao has formally declared war on the German Empire in a joint session of Parliament.

The declaration comes on the fall of the European continent into a general conflagration after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The Prime Minister made it clear that while he treasured Germany as a country, the great tides of the world pushed China into this position. Prime Minister Li then condemned those who thought China should side with the Central Powers, reminding the assembly that China is surrounded on all side by Entente powers or their colonies. He also reminded the assembly of the financial opportunities that war could give the country, highlighting the potential boon to the coal industry.

In the same speech, the Prime Minister also announced that a treaty of cooperation had been signed with Japan. Most of the terms have been made secret by order of the Emperor, with just two of the terms being revealed: Japanese troops shall be permitted to have a presence on Chinese soil. In exchange, Qingdao shall be returned to the Great Qing should it ever fall out of German control.

In other news, the Board of Defence has announced that unlike the other powers, The Great Qing would not be pursuing conscription as 'The Emperor has promised the Minister of War that no Chinese troops will see action in Europe'. There has been a flurry of activity at naval dockyards across the country, while the Government has kept the Navy's prospective operations behind closed doors


The Prime Minister acceding to the treaty with Japan


The Imperial Parliament in session.
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Guangxu trying and then executing Cixi openly does not take into account of how Chinese does things. Cixi is his aunt by birth and mother by adoption. An execution of Cixi would go against traditional teachings of filial piety and would most certainly legitimize calls for his overthrow. And by law, Cixi does indeed have the right to depose Guangxu if she does not see him fit.The better decision would have been to give Cixi a comfortable retirement and then have her die of a sudden illness a few years later.
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20th November 1914-Editorial: Japanese and Chinese people forget the past and work together for the future.
The people of Qingdao feared the consequences of Japanese troops entering their city after taking it from the Germans early this month and why shouldn't they have been scared? The Japanese tortured and brutalized hundreds of soldiers and civilians in the War of Jiawu.

Strangely, such scenes were not repeated when the Japanese took Qingdao. Far from it, as it turned out. The Japanese have been working with their Chinese brothers to bring order to this formerly occupied territory and there hasn't not been a single incident from either side.

"They are very well behaved", a shopkeeper can testify. "THey walk in and wait in line with the rest of the people. They then buy their goods like everyone else, rather than 'requstioninng' them.",

At the former German colonial headquarters, the Chinese and Japanese soldiers perform regular marching drills side by side, under each other's flags. The Chinese troops, dressed in their yellowish uniforms, and the Japanese, dressed in their khaki uniforms, treat each other as brothers in arms and they have mutual respect. On the hills outside of the town, they acquaint themselves with German weapons. They have a close affection towards the Maxim machine gun. One team has a Japanese soldier ohlding the ammunition while the Chinese soldiers disintegrate a target.

"These men are not their relatives. They are brothers in arms and they would die for each other", A Chinese officer said about his Japanese equals.
Soldiers from both sides also share the duty of registering the hundreds of prisoners of war which were captured at the end of the battle. The German prisoners are not particularly pleased over being held captive by non-Europeans.

The Minister of War, Yuan Shiikai, has vowed that cooperation between the Chinese and Japanese armies will continue. Today, the Minister of War visited a submarine base in Hainan Province where he made the pledge. He refused to answer questions about the Sino-Japanese Friendship Treaty signed in August, only saying “It is none of the press’s business what goes on inside the government”,

As the Minister of War spoke, a sign of friendship was seen by the journalists as in naval tradition, a visiting Japanese ship was seen dipping it’s flag in respect to the Chinese ship next to it. The Chinese ship repeated the gesture.

In the villages, Japanese soldiers are seen helping their cousins construct a railway between Shandong and Liaoning provinces, the construction of which was ordered at the beginning of last year and is 30% complete, according to government estimates. The railway is expected to connect to the South Manchuria Railway.

The Mandarin Observer, as a representative of the Chinese government and His Majesty the Emperor, welcome our Japanese cousins and we wish our two countries nothing but the best.


Japanese soldiers during the siege of Qingdao.
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2nd December 1914-Editorial: Why we are not a industrialized nation yet
The annex to the South Manchurian Railway has had to put up with a series of social disturbances intent on either impeding or outright halting it's progress. Some of these people, when caught and interrogated, have claimed they are doing so in the name of family honour, since all provinces in which the annex is being built bought up all cemetaries in the way of the construction.

This, in the view of The Government, is one of the many reasons why industrialization has been slow since the beginning of the 19th Century. The 1898 Constitution proclaims the right of the citizens to believe in whatever faith system they wish, but such a freedom is not absolute. The people of the rural areas would have you believe their family spirits would begin to walk the Earth if their graves were disturbed. The Government only wants what's best for the people and superstitious rumours like this are not helping matters.

Another superstition is the belief that we have reached our pinnacle, that the Chinese can advance no further. The fact that we are laying down railways and that there are currently Royal Navy ships docked in Hainan should utterly destroy this belief. While the Government does not doubt the Chinese people are masters of their own destiny, we are not masters of the world. Britain is the epicentre of the world and Germany has been able to implement a stratocratic government, backed by a enormous army. We are not a superior nation. In fact, this belief should've been destroyed during the humiliations that were the Opium Wars.

This misocnception seems to only persisit among the un-educated peasants in rural areas. Those Chinese who have accumulated wealth are throwing their lot in with the slowly expanding railway network. As we chart a course for the future, we must bring the peasants into line and show them the benefits of industrialization and in some areas, Westernization. There is also no incentive for peasants to get off the farms and work in the larger cities. The United States is moving towards a new device called a 'tractor' which limits the amount of work their farmers must do. The Government should look into hiring someone such as Henry Ford to plan our agricultural revolution.

Another issue that needs to be brought to light is our stagnant population. In the early days of the Great Qing, the population expanded with the empire. With the empire having reached it's territorial limits, population growth has stagnated. While we must not encourage over-population, we must encourage Chinese families to expand their ranks, to produce new workers for the industrial age.

The industrial age must not include the existence of enterprises owned by The Government. Productivity is limited by people within the Government attempting to enrich themselves and not their country. The Government does not take any responsibility in the spread of the corruption, but it does acknowledge that it's ownership of enterprises is encouraging bad habits and selfishness among employers and business owners.

Another reason why we have not industrialized, however, is a reason that must be reinforced with all vigour, the fear of Western values. We have moved towards democratization. We have a legislature, a prime minister and provincial elections occurred in 1905, which created the provincial assemblies which we see today and a 1911 election which created the National Assembly, but this is where the Western influence must stop. We are not the Revive China Society. We are not tearing down a system that has lasted for millennia and replace it with a untested system that as far as The Government is concerned, is unsustainable when the minorities of our country are taken into account.

There are challenges ahead for our country and we are not going to pretend industrialization will come tomorrow or even next year, but if the people have faith in His Majesty the Emperor and the Great Qing, then industrialization is an attainable goal.
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IMO, if the initial premise seems implausible, just have Empress Dowager Cixi die of natural causes (like, say, a heart attack or stroke) before she launches her coup; that'll work quite nicely...

Good TL and premise, BTW...
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10th January 1915 - Russia repeals anti-Chinese laws, asks for Chinese Labour Corps
The Russian government has officially repealed all laws that previously banned Chinese citizens from working in Russia and has asked for a dedicated Chinese Labour Corps to perform non-combat duties.

The Board of Works made the announcement earlier day, though the repeal of the laws took place in December of last year. Russia makes the announcement as it slowly loses ground to the German behemoth after a disastrous defeat at Tannenberg.

The Minister of Works has sent out a call for workers, preferably one from poor backgrounds aged between 20-35, to sign up for the new Chinese Labour Corps. There are also plans for the Labour Corps to be sent to the Western Front to assist in duties such as unloading ships, filling sandbags and repairing infrastructure such as roads.

A social disturbance broke out not long after the announcement, with protestors denouncing the transportation of Chinese labour to Europe, when they could be of better use in the Motherland. The disturbance, which took place outside of the Forbidden City, was quickly broken up by the police. The Minsiter of Works has answered such criticisms by vowing to make inroads towards a program of industrialization. The Minister of Work also warned that if they can't find enough volunteers, then the Emperor has given the Board the authority to begin conscripting workers.
6 June 1916 - Yuan Shikai dies, Feng Guozheng to become Minister for War
Yuan Shikai, hero of the failed 1898 Cixi coup, has died of a embolism.

Minister Yuan reportedly died in his sleep while overseeing army drills in Manchuria. He was discovered by an aide who was sent to retrieve Yuan for a visit to the recently-completed South Manchurian Railway annex.

Millions of Chinese citizens are awash with grief over the news, with large gatherings taking place Beijing and other cities throughout the country.

In consideration of his loyal service as leader of the Beiyang Army, from which our modernized military has sprung, the Emperor has decreed that Yuan’s body will be laid in state within the epicentre of the Foribdden City, according to a decree published by the Imperial Cabinet.

In the same decree, the Emperor announced that Feng Guozheng, former military attache to Tokyo and Yuan’s second, will become the third Minister of War, being the third military officer from the Beiyang Army to achieve the post.


Taken in 1901, Yuan Shiikai (centre) stands with the officers who remained loyal to the Emperor during the 1898 coup attempt


Feng Guozhang
20th July 1916 - Banned anti-Qing Party disrupts Yuan funeral procession
A banned anti-Qing party deliberately disrupted the funeral procession for Yuan Shikai by staging a disturbance.

The party, called the National Enlightenment Party, wearing thin knee-deep tunics and chadors in supposed honour of the Mings, blockaded a area of the procession and chanting such slogans as ‘Hans shall rule Hans!’ and ‘Manchus are foreign devils!'

The police quickly beat them down and upon realizing the protestors had cut off their queues, arrested them for blocking a funeral procession, belonging to a banned group and not wearing proper dress.

The National Enlightenment Party is a band of miscreants and terrorists who attempted to run in the Jiangnan provincial election in 1905. They were banned as soon as their ‘platform’ was revealed:

  • Stregnthen the Qing Dynasty ‘by any means necessary’.
  • Nationalize all railways built within Chinese territory, including Manchuria. (Effectively picking a fight with Russia and Japan)
  • Seize all foreign concessions within Chinese territory (Bringing the rage of the European powers down on the Chinese nation)
  • Tax peasants according to how much grain they farm per month and use the tax revenue to buy farming machinery from overseas to encourage industrialization (Needless state control of the economy which will only lead to starvation)
  • Open schools in provinces dedicated to teaching peasants in the art of metallurgy, so they can contribute to the industrialization of the country. (Including areas where peasants are unable to read due to a lack of educational services)
  • Make the military the strongest arm of the state by encouraging industry to focus on war-style production targets and quotas. (It is already the strongest arm of the sta. Minister Yuan made it so)

By vowing to ‘strength’ the Qing Dynasty, the Party attempts to hide it’s agenda, which is tantamount to overthrowing the heavenly authority of the Emperor. Despite it’s ban, however, it has unfortunately grown something of a cult status among the peasants, particularly in Jiangnan province, the headquarters of the Taiping uprising against the Emperor in the 19th Century. The government in Beijing has sent orders to the provincial governors to immediately break up any and all activities being undertaken by this Party.


A small protest by the Party complaining about the Railway Provinces Act in 1911.


The Party's most popular flag, often seen during illegal rallies and at peasant communes.

(OOC: A big thank you to @Odinson for making this flag for me)
August 17th 1917-Illegal anti-Qing party spreads rumours of 'Nikoali Romanov extrication'
OOC: Sorry for the long pause in updates. I will attempt to make updates more regular on this thread.


The Great Qing, once and for all, denies allegations being spread by the National Enlightenment Party that it conducted a rescue mission to save the live of detested autocrat and bane of existence, Nikolai Romanov.

According to the rumours being spread, a special group of Chinese soldiers were detached to a special mission where they trekked along the Trans-Siberian Railway. The rumours state that Romanov was extracted from Tobolsk and taken back to Manchuria where he was spirited to Japan.

The Great Qing finds these mistruths to be not just incorrect, but repulsive to the Chinese character, as Tsar Nicholas II, despite fighting on the same side as us in this war, will always be one of the most hated European figures in Chinese history for his conquest of Manchuria. Any rumours which spread this mistruth will be harshly cracked down upon and the perpetrators will be arrested.

The idea that Chinese soldiers would ever risk their lives for a foreign monarch, especially a European monarch such as the ex-Tsar, is insulting to our national character and indeed if such a mission took place, it would be a blight on the souls of all Chinese who have ever lived. We stand in opposition to all forms of imperialism, especially imperialism being pushed by despotic autocrats who have rightly earned the wrath of their people.
20th September 1918 - Chinese and Entente forces enter Siberia
Chinese and Entente forces enter Siberia

Chinese forces have entered Russia in co-ordination with an offensive by the Entente powers.

The offensive has been announced to have the objectives of securing Allied weapon dumps in Russia and ensuring the safe return of the Czechoslovak Legion. With these objectives in mind, Chinese and Japanese forces have launched an offensive against Vladivostok and along the entire Manchurian border. The offensive began in August, but the Emperor has decreed it’s revelation now.

The Japanese and Chinese linked up with the Czehocoslovak Legion in September and the British, French and Italian armies linked up with the Legion a few days later.

The Japanese have deployed 70,000 troops in the offensive while the Minister of War has officially announced 40,000 Chinese troops are taking part. The Chinese troops are under the command of Zhang Zoulin, who regularly confers with his Japanese counterpart, Otani Kikuzo.

The areas east of Lake Baikal now belong to the Provisional Siberian Government of Pyotr Vologodsky, which the Emperor has recognized as the sole legitimate authority of the entire country of Russia. The Siberian Government was established due in no small part to the Czechoslovaks themselves in June of this year.


General Zhang Zoulin, commander of all Chinese forces in Manchuria.


General Otani Kikuzo visiting the troops on the 18th of September


Japanese troops marching through Vladivostok