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I thought to myself: cover of OttoVonsud’s “Recent annexation of Mexico”…  or “Hundred Days”… ?

Why not both?

OTL, as usual, means Our Timeline, the world we normally stumble around in.

In this world, the anti-reformist coup of 1898 fails to come off thanks to some greater luck in the way of allies for the Emperor, and the Qing Empire manages to reform, slowly and with difficulty, but enough to avoid the 1911 collapse. Japan still manages to bring Korea under its control, that China was not up to challenge them on this had been made clear in 1894-95, but at least the Russian sphere of influence in Manchuria was limited and further attacks on Chinese territorial integrity held off.

A *WWI still took place, Germany having gone too far down the path of Disruptive Overpowered Asshole under its Kaiser by that point to easily change course, and Russia still had a hard-left revolution, the basic doctrine and cast of characters being in place by 1898. The Allies managed to win the long, slow drawn-out slugging match without direct intervention by the US, but were too exhausted to do much about the Russian revolution (the Chinese managed to regain some of their lost territory while Whites and Reds were slugging it out) and the effort to break Germany up into several smaller states kept apart with the help of the Poles and Czechs didn’t go too well. The Chinese later fought a bloody war with the Japanese over Korea, which they didn’t entirely win, but made expensive enough for the Japanese that the peninsula became neutralized and the Japanese essentially accepted that any invasion of mainland China without allies was a losing proposition. The 30s proceeded without the hard-line militarists taking control of Japanese foreign policy (having lost a lot of face in Korea badly weakened their influence, and the public was in no mood for more military ventures)

Spain had an alt-civil war and nobody came. The successful Struggle for German Reunification (and the consequent failed French Coup) in the early 30s led to the War of German (and Hungarian, and Austrian…) Revenge in the mid-40s. The US was eventually drawn into the war in Europe by German attempts to choke the UK through unlimited submarine warfare, and the Chinese sent troops as well to demonstrate their arrival as an important player. Although the Germans still managed to overrun France, fought more intelligently in the East, and weren’t burdened with Italians (Italy sensibly sat out this round) they still went down, and with a relatively later US intervention the Soviets got a bit deeper into the Balkans and central Europe, with continental Greece going Red, although Serbia-Croatia ended up on the allied side of the line. 

Although the German nationalist dictatorship was quite exceedingly vicious, Hitler's rule had been butterflied (Hitler The Hideously Maimed War Vet never did break into politics except as an Exhibit A for French Evilness), and the Jews weren’t massacred in an organized way (if legally marginalized and often murdered for having disagreeably-cut jibs): the war in the east was mostly remembered for enthusiastic massacres of Slavs. Israel never became as _pressing_ an issue, and although Zionists still got a promise of a homeland during the First Great European War in exchange for supposedly getting the Jewish Conspiracy on side (the British upper classes, folks), the state of Israel was never as successful a project as OTL, and nowadays is largely a US protectorate (on the positive side, international image-wise, while it never had the Miraculous Creation of Holocaust Survivors vibe it long had OTL, it actually gets some underdog cred in 2015).

The Soviet Union was from the start even more paranoid and fearful than OTL, with a growing and quite Communism-unfriendly, still Imperial, China and a still militarily formidable Japan in the East plus a US-allied Europe to the west. Trying to keep up with the Joneses militarily both in the East and the West,  plus a more expensive space race than OTL led to bankruptcy by the 1980s and collapse of the regime, although the disintegration was slower and more partial, with Russia managing to maintain control of at least part of the old Soviet empire into the 21st century. 

Without the Warlord period, a war with Japan largely confined to Korea and a few coastal areas, and sans the crazier excesses of Maoism, China became a major economic power and a competitor for influence with the US by the 1960s, when US pundits and politicians recognized an almost inevitable long-term problem: if China did (as it seemed to be well en route to doing) converge economically with the US, it would, given its huge and increasing population (higher than OTL at the time) inevitably dwarf the US in the way the US was now dwarfing the individual states of Europe. While the Europeans could to some extent make up for this by moving together as they had begun to do, the US had no peer neighbors. What to do?

In some ways, the fears were exaggerated - China would eventually hit demographic transition long before the immigrant-friendly US stopped growing – but they spoke to US anxieties and old “yellow peril fears”, and China did not help things by starting to effectively challenge the US for leadership of the anti-Communist block almost from the same day China tested its first atomic bomb. The ancient Empire of China had bounced back, and wasn’t going to play Asian Houseboy to the upstart US. The so-called “Sino-American split” was never as bad as the Sino-Soviet split of OTL – there was no chance that either would join forces with the Soviets against the other [1] – but by the 70s there was a clear split in the anti-Communist alliance between a “Chinese block” mostly of right-wing juntas, traditional monarchies, and post-colonial states hostile to the West but not really happy with the idea of a Soviet alliance and the more developed and democratic block centered on the US and western Europe. The Soviets, meanwhile, looked contained if still dangerous – the US was successfully crushing leftists in Latin America, while Chinese influence had kept conservative regimes in power in SE Asia (the French are still annoyed at China taking Indochina “under protection” after the fall of mainland France), with the Soviet only achieving sporadic successes in the Middle East and Africa (leading to the very messy, if ultimately successful, US Congolese Intervention and some fine War is Bad movies re the same).

One way to deal with the demographic deficit was to open wide the gates of immigration, which did occur, but this was not seen as enough by many. A radical idea was proposed in the 1970s, and in the end would be supported: expand the USA. By peaceful means (and a certain amount of underhanded arm twisting and bribery, but let’s not mention that) other nations would be invited to join the US, at first as territories in the case of poorer states, but with a fast-track of government-funded modernization and convergence on US quality of life, while maintaining local language rights and certain other local privileges (until and unless the local population voted otherwise, of course). The US was going to export the Empire of Liberty. 

Over the last three and a half decades, the great program has moved forward, with occasional panics, reversals, and disappointments. Canada, Everyone's Favorite Annexation, has proven disappointingly mulish, and the Brits have been terribly skeptical, but in 2008 the US went for broke and negotiated the Big One, the Real Deal, whatever you want to call it, a project 20 years in the making, the integration of Mexico into the US. One might wonder if this had anything to do with a report in 2000 indicating China’s economy had already surpassed the US in overall size. 

Already richer than OTL thanks to careful US investment, Mexico still was an integration issue economically even more troublesome than East Germany in our world, and politically hairy enough that some compromises (the creation of some more US senators and representatives, the creation of two whole new states [2] and the reduction of the number of Mexican states) were needed: as it is, in 2015 only 3 Mexican states plus the Federal District have gone from Territorial to State status, nearly a quarter of the population of Mexico has moved north in search of (better) jobs, (leading to a pouring of illegal Central Americans across the southern Mexico border to fill their jobs) and the economy is struggling. US politicians are preaching keeping calm and staying the course, but some fear the US has bitten off more than it can chew: the Chinese frankly hope they will choke on it.

China doesn’t like the US expansion program, which it isn’t well placed to duplicate, although there have been rumors that it may try something similar in SE Asia, particularly in the Chinese-heavy states of Malaysia and Thailand. And wait, wasn’t Vietnam a part of China once? The government denies such rumors, but it is true that there has been something of a charm offensive in recent years emphasizing the close cultural, religious, racial, historical, etc., etc. ties between China, Korea, and continental SE Asia…

China has about 1.65 billion people, more than OTL due to the lack of civil war, Mao, invasion, more Mao, etc. and a lack of one child policy, but somewhat balanced by a demographic transition driven by increased prosperity. Indeed, as is normally the case in conservative, sexist societies once women get regular access to birth control and jobs, birth rates have plummeted, leading to a bit of a moral panic and an energetic effort to economically encourage larger families combined with a more pro-immigration stance (admittedly with a special emphasis on the Chinese diaspora[3]). 

China still has an emperor, although he’s been largely marginalized by the nationalist political party union which has controlled politics for decades and whose only real challenger is the vast and eternal grey eminence of the permanent bureaucracy. The state is in some ways like OTLs China – nationalist, modernization-focused, authoritarian – but the elites are generally more cultured and sophisticated than the rather nouveau-anything rulers of the modern PRC, and are usually well up on their Confucian classics, although they have even less respect for the views of Laowai than their OTL counterparts. Foreign policy is generally pragmatic and strictly national-interests centered, although support may be given to nations with otherwise no real use just to add to the list of “tributaries.” Of late, there have been efforts to kiss and make up with the Russians, and even get the Europeans onside against the “mindlessly expansionist” Americans.

Japan, which includes Taiwan, has been historically a bit more immigrant-friendly and had a somewhat later demographic transition without US occupation (women didn’t get the vote until the late 60s), has over 180 million people, and has since the 1960s considered itself a fourth “great power,” the “great neutral” and occasional honest broker alongside the quarreling powers of China, the Soviet Union, and the USA. However, as satisfying as the Soviet Union’s relative decline may have been to the Japanese right, 180 million looks increasingly inadequate compared to 1.65 billion Chinese and 440 million – and growing – Americans, and some feel Japan needs to make a choice between the giants and pick an ally. China would make more cultural and economic sense, but the Japanese generally get along better with the Americans. There is even one weirdo politician, a perpetual fourth-party candidate for prime minister, who argues for political union with the US to create a trans-pacific power that would RULE THE WORLD, but nobody takes Parliamentary member Kamina too seriously, no matter how cool his sunglasses are.

Creating its own political block doesn’t look like an option – China has the local neighborhood pretty much sewn up, although there is unrest with the status quo in Indonesia - the “takeover” of Malaysia by the Chinese creeps out Indonesians, who have their own large and powerful Chinese minority, whose safety the Chinese government has come to take a strong interest in, of the send-an-atomic-armed-aircraft-carrier-into-your-main-port type. This of course leads to rumors of a planned Chinese takeover of the nation, and although Chinese corporations dominate, there is a strong push by the government for increased US investment, in hopes of creating some sort of counterbalance, although now some Indonesians are starting to worry about the possibility of an American takeover. 

India, whose move to independence took a somewhat different course than OTL, is still unified although a bit more decentralized even not counting the almost de facto independent areas such as Bengal and Baluchistan. Constant low-level feuding between Hindu and Muslim hardliners in the Punjab is a perpetual headache, but the population is too mixed to think of partition without it becoming a human disaster, or so Delhi says. Although better off than OTL, _relatively_ speaking it’s one of this more developed world’s losers, still essentially third-world and considered by many in the west as a land of backwards, unworldly mysticism, while the Chinese regard them with what can best be described as benevolent condescension, all of which is highly annoying to Indian elites. 

The Middle East is generally a bit more secular, less of the energy of Arab nationalism having exhausted itself in failed battles with Israel or military disasters around the Tigris and Euphrates. As OTL, monarchy hasn’t done too well north of the Saudis, the success of China under an emperor not convincing anyone that their mostly British-puppet monarchs were worth much. Iraq is a near-first world industrial power – also a fairly ghastly tyranny under a guy with a big mustache, but at least he isn’t modeling himself after Hitler. An infusion of Chinese-type state-backed capitalism has helped out Egypt somewhat, but it remains a bit backwards and troubled by Islamicist types who find the presence of the heathen Chinese even less happy-making than that of Christians OTL. The Chinese and locals get along better in Iran, where under a luckier series of rulers than OTL the Shahdom of Iran remains a regional power with an advanced (peaceful, the Shah’s press secretary will assure you) nuclear power industry. The Maghreb is fairly closely tied to the European Confederation economically, and Tunisia is actually a working democracy. 

Afghanistan is a horrid dictatorship which has crushed insurgency through killing nearly a fifth of its own population. On the other hand, standards of living are better than they were under the Taliban OTL. 

Sub-Saharan Africa has benefitted from higher raw materials prices in a more industrialized world, as has Latin America, and Chinese investment on a large scale starting rather earlier than OTL. The various pro-Soviet dictatorships have generally changed their political postures with the fall of the Soviets, and the continent is generally wealthier than OTL, and further along towards demographic transition, although of late there has been a rumor of some nasty new disease, a “wasting illness” coming out of West Africa. Some parts of West Africa remain French, being less of a demographic hazard than Algeria, although a decision will have to be made soon about the Cote D’Ivoire, which has been stuck in Bureaucratic Hell waiting to be upgraded from “associate state” to “overseas province” for some decades now due to underdevelopment: the locals are pretty much fed up with it. South Africa is no longer a White Man’s country, but it’s not a Black Man’s either: it’s more “A White, Indian, Chinese, Colored and Rich Black Collaborator’s Country”, and some 90% of the blacks still are kept from voting by various dodges. Some black African countries are a bit uncomfortable about being allied to China while they are also on fine terms with South Africa, but as the Chinese Ambassador will point out, it’s just business: the Chinese do not hypocritically preach freedom while supporting its suppressors, and it’s not like they have a historical track record of keeping the black man down, like some countries they won’t mention?

Latin America has been something of a US success, with greater democratization and continued US economic cooperative efforts having largely pushed out the Chinese save for a few remaining dictatorships. It’s more closely economically integrated with the US than OTL, and also has a unified internal market, more or less. Central America is on the US’s long-term “to do” list, but South America looks unlikely to go down the US gullet, voluntarily or otherwise, anytime soon, and locals looking with interest on US expansionary efforts have been talking about maybe creating that ancient Bolivarian dream, a united states of South America. 

The US is generally a more socially liberal place than OTL, and has a political system which extends somewhat to the left of OTL, divided between roughly two and a half political parties, the Democrats taking up the social-democrat/lite socialism role which no longer exists OTL outside of a few eccentrics on the political margin plus the left half of OTLs Democrats, the Republicans taking up the right half of OTL’s democrats and the left half of the Republicans, and then there is the far-right American Independent Party [4], the marginal but regionally important party of rabid nationalism and conspiratorial ideas, the eternal enemy of the “expand America” program – except for absorbing Canada or other “white” countries, in which case they’re okedokee about it. (They’re also not hot at all on the Chinese, and get a lot of play from accusing everyone else of being weak on "creeping Chinese influence.”) In spite of the efforts of the AIP, East Asian culture is more widely influential (and, curiously, there is also more British cultural influence; it’s a world where Britain is more closely entangled economically with the US than with Europe). Religious hardliners are somewhat marginalized compared to OTL, although saying you are an atheist is probably still fatal to a Presidential run. 

Europe has unified more closely than in our world, sans Britain, although it's still a ways from a true United States of Europe. It has not pushed quite so far east, Russia never having looked as accommodating (and as feeble) as it did for much of the 90s OTL. Germany took even longer to digest an East Germany larger than ours, and the "ossie-wessie" division remains sharper than in our world. A France more populous than ours which fought on from its colonies in the Second Great European war is more confident, but also suffers from even worse racial issues with its very large African population. The Spanish Federation hasn't been a left-wing dictatorship for a while (the Right lost in this world's Civil War) and is doing well economically, but is still considered something for an oddball by the rest of western Europe.

Technologically this world is more advanced than OTL, with a lot more first-world and near first-world players pushing tech forward. (Still no fusion power or flying cars, though). Atomic power is rather more widely used, both due to higher fossil fuel costs in a more competitive market and less general paranoia about atomics (although there were still plenty of scary cold-war era movies, atomic bombs were never used in this world: they were developed early enough to have been used to finish off the Germans and shorten the war by a few months, but the President at the time wasn’t sure how all those roasted little white babies would play in Peoria after the fighting ended). Manned space exploration has gone further, with Chinese and US visits to Mars, multiple bases on the Moon, and various manned orbital stations, while robots are crawling all over and you could spend all day watching all the live [5] feeds coming from a dozen moons and planets. Biotech is more developed, as is computer science, medicine, and synthetics, increasingly important in a world facing increasing materials shortages. 

Indeed, this world may be a victim of its own success: oil is rapidly running low, cheaper methods of oil synthesis from shale and coal contribute to a global warming problem already more advanced than ours, and all sorts of rare industrial elements are increasingly in short supply in spite of the best efforts of both recyclers and ultra-deep miners (the Chinese are digging at depths some scary advanced cooling systems are needed: scary because if they fail, the miners will cook). It remains to be seen whether the faster progress of technology will provide new solutions faster than the problems it has created develop. 

[1] Although some of this world’s alt-historians suggest that might have transpired if the Soviets had survived into the 21st century

[2] (Guam and the district of Washington, D.C.: splitting California in two remains held up in committee)

[3] Larger than OTL: China may have had a nicer century than OTL, but greater wealth also meant it was easier to work and travel abroad, and in any event there was no Mao-era closing of borders. 

[4] Or the “national Id party”, as some refer to it.

[5] Well, live aside from that speed of light thing.
Add a Comment:
chaotic-nipple Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2016
OTL Wahabbis much prefer to be called "Salafis" ("Originalists", roughly). The "Wahabbi" label just smacks of apostasy to them, by implying they put Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab on the same level as the REAL Prophet Muhammad. If this timeline's Salafis have actually embraced the Wahabbi label, that implies potentially interesting things about their theology...
destructive-taco Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2015
What's "Peoria" from the second to last paragraph?
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2015
It's a town and an expression.…
ArmouredWarrior Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2015
This world is the first I've seen that you've made that isn't so depressing. 
Hayaba1 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2015
Are there any other political parties in China aside from the nationalist political party union? 
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2015
Marginal ones, which tend to get harassed if they show signs of becoming more successful.
daniusmaximus Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2015
This is my new favorite map of yours, and I say that as a huge fan of your stuff in general. You've done an excellent job of portraying a multipolar system without making things feel clichéd, or going overboard for one side or the other. Even from the map and writeup alone you can clearly tell there's a lot of extremely interesting internal politics and situations going on everywhere.

Also, if I may go into more pure nerd mode for a bit, I'm getting cyberpunk vibes with this world and a lot of "20 minutes into the future" vibes as well with the more advanced technology levels. (Then again a Sino-American world power system is something of a sci-fi trope in its own right, but you approached it from an interesting way.)

PS: Loved the Kamina reference, now I'm wondering who else is running around in this world...
menapia Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2015
Ireland is now part of the U.S Noooo!Waaaah! We'd end up like a bent Chicago run by the likes of Gerry Adams and the loony republicans
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2015
Well, at least you should get more support from the US government than you've gotten from the EU. :)
menapia Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2015
Weird thing is, I remember our history teacher saying that back in the 40's some guy who came over with the U.S. ambassador suggested statehood at some party.  De Valera our Prime Minister was negative about the idea despite him having U.S citizenship and being a born New Yorker.
eclipse-paladin Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015
"Imperial China survives and thrives" scenarios are always fun, this one being especially interesting. Do hope they get that resource issue sorted out soon though. 
TLhikan Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2015
Don't know if you've ever played Civilization 5, but this US's practice of letting nations/regions joining it reminds me of the way (in BNW) that cities will join your nation if you're influential enough over theirs. 
daniusmaximus Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2015
Clearly different ideologies in competition, multiple great powers with two big guys, resources all claimed/running out, and the tech tree is filled out into future tech. And scanning the map reveals a surprising amount of the BNW civs and city-states in play. (Even the Zulus! No Mongolia though.) This would actually make an awesome Civ V scenario if implemented right.
OneHellofaBird Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
I'd also add that OTL PRC was very natalist in the 50s (anyone for condoms got the beating-stick)--the One-Child Policy's the result of the Seven-Child Policy (ditto India, El Salvador, Mexico, and IIRC Tanzania)
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
True, but it was limited in effect: the Chinese increase from this "baby boom" was smaller than such countries as India or Nigeria which didn't have a pro-natalist policy. It seems to be harder to get people to have more kids than less kids, oddly enough: Romanian (under C-name) and Nazi German efforts to boost population growth weren't too successful. I suppose it's possible for the Chinese population to end up _lower_ than in our timeline, but a higher population strikes me as plausible enough that I didn't strike out that part of Otto's scenario. 
Twiggierjet Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
What does plotz mean?
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
From Yiddish, to fall down or faint from extreme excitement or horror/disgust.
OttoVonSuds Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
It still amazes me that you found a semi-plausible justification for annexing Mexico in the 2000s, even with a POD in 1898. My POD for the original recent annexation of mexico one was "lots of raw diamonds and coke being passed around", which wasn't technically ASB but...

This also gives me a reason to re-schedule getting the writeup done for Hundred Days 2.0.
Todyo1798 Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Well I guess that's the first semi-realistic US annexation of Ireland I've ever seen, still weird though.

Also I've seen a growing trend in adding Novorossiya like areas to the Russians rather than usual Don-Crimea split.
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