by Max Barry

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Overview


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.T H E . . Z H E N . . D Y N A S T Y
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大震

The Zhen Dynasty (English)
大震帝國 (Chinese, Trad)
충격 제국 (Korean)
Шокын эзэнт гүрэн (Mongolian)
Poob Siab Tebchaws (Hmong)



Flag


Motto:
我是美好生活的守護者。
("I am the guardian of a beautiful life".)



Location


Population: 1,463,140,551 (1.46 billion)


Capital: Beijing
Largest City: Shanghai


Official Language: N/A


National Language: Standard Chinese


Spoken Languages: Mongolian, Dzungar, Tibetan, Zhuang, Manchu, Korean, and various others


Demonym: Zhen


Government:
- Empress: Kong Zixun (Era Name 'Shangwen')
- First Grand Secretariat: Vacant
- Second Grand Secretariat: Vacant


Legislature:
- Upper House: Imperial Cabinet
- Lower House: National Assembly
- Regional Houses: Provincial Assemblies


GDP:
- Nominal: $14.928 trillion USD
- Per Capita: $10,202 USD


Establishment:
-Imperial rule: established in 221 BC by Qin Shihuang
-New Republic: established in 1911 by Sun Yat-Sen
-Zhen Dynasty: established in 1919 by Emperor Taizu


Land Area: 9,596,961 km2
Water %: 2.8


Currency: Zhen Gold Dollar (ZGD)


The Zhen, officially the Zhen Dynasty, is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion in 2019. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, it is the world's third or fourth-largest country by area. The Zhen is a federal constitutional monarchy, and is one of the few existing states which have a monarch that is constitutionally guaranteed to practice absolute powers.

The Zhen emerged as one of the world's first civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, the country's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-mythical Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, the country has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In its imperial days, the country some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements. The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song (960–1127) completed the Four Great Inventions. From 1644 to 1912, the country was led by a foreign conquest dynasty (the Qing) - Qing rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution, when the Zhen Dynasty usurped the Qing Dynasty.

Since the introduction of economic reforms in the 1970s, the Zhen's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates consistently above 6 percent. According to the World Bank, the Zhen's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017. Since 2010, the Zhen has been the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP, and since 2014, the largest economy in the world by PPP. The Zhen is also the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. It is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army, the Zhen Imperial Military, and the second-largest defense budget. The Zhen is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and has been characterized as an emerging superpower due to a massive population, large and rapidly-growing economy, and powerful military.


Etymology

The name 'Zhen' comes from a section in the I Ching. The I Ching describes 64 hexagrams, which are mainly used for divination; Hexagram 51 is named 震 (zhčn), "Shake". Other variations include "the arousing (shock, thunder)" and "thunder". The name was selected due to its poetic nature, mainly attributed to the following quote by Napoleon Bonaparte:

    "[The Zhen] is a sleeping lion. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the world."

Indeed, the Zhen has shaken the world as it quickly became an emerging superpower in a span of 30 years.


History

Although the current ruling dynasty of the Zhen was founded in 1911, the nation has a deep and rich history dating back nearly 3,000 years, starting with various dynasties and civilizations.

Founding


1911: The Xinhai Revolution spreads to major cities across the country.

In the later years of the Guangxu Emperor's rule, the Emperor was guided by reformers like Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao for drastic reform in education, military and economy under the Hundred Days' Reform. However, a coup launched by the Conservative Empress Dowager Cixi ejects Liang and Kang out of the Forbidden City, and places Guangxu under house arrest. Liang and Kang subsequently form the Emperor Protection Society in 1899, in an attempt to foster constitutional reform by promoting the ideas of "Resisting the Qing and restoring the Ming" that had been around since the days of the Taiping Rebellion.

After suing for peace with the foreign powers following the Boxer Rebellion, the Qing court softened its resistance to constitutional reform, so the Reform Association's platform shifted to co-operating with the push for top-down reform. In 1906, the Qing government adopted the policy of establishing a constitutional monarchy by 1911. Kang Youwei declared that the Association's goals were accomplished, and in 1907 it changed its name to the "Empire Constitutionalist Association". In its new incarnation, the Association aligned itself with the Qing court and opposed the Republicans. It was later renamed to the "Friends of the Constitution Association".

In 1911, a nationwide political protest movement against the Qing government's plan to nationalize local railway development projects and transfer control to foreign banks turns violent, spurring the Wuchang Uprising. The New Army staged a mutiny against the Qing government, leading to the end of Qing rule. The brief civil war that ensued was ended through a political compromise between Yuan Shikai, the late Qing military strongman, and Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the Tongmenghui.

On 18 December, the North-South Conference was held in Shanghai to discuss the north and south issues. With the intervention of six foreign powers, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Russia, Japan, and France, Tang Shaoyi and Wu Tingfang began to negotiate a settlement at the British concession. Foreign businessman Edward Selby Little acted as the negotiator and facilitated the peace agreement. They agreed that Yuan Shikai would force the Qing emperor to abdicate in exchange for the southern provinces' support of Yuan as the president of the Republic. After considering the possibility that the new republic might be defeated in a civil war or by foreign invasion, Sun Yat-sen agreed to Yuan's proposal to unify China under Yuan Shikai's Beiyang government. On 29 December 1911, Sun Yat-sen was elected as the first provisional president. Zhang Jian drafted an abdication proposal for the abdication of Puyi. After being pressured by remaining Qing ministers, Puyi and Empress Dowager Longyu accepted Yuan's terms of abdication. The new Republic was formally proclaimed in January 1, 1912.

After the establishment of the Republic in 1912, some members of the aforementioned Association went on to form new political parties that participated in elections to the republican parliament, while Kang himself agitated for restoration of the monarchy. The bulk of the "Friends of the Constitution Association" merged into the Progressive Party in 1913. Some advocated that a Han person be made Emperor; the Duke Yansheng was proposed for replacing the Qing Emperor by Liang Qichao. Some other members of the Party, however - most notably a minor warlord named Zhao Kunlun - had wanted a restoration of the Song. Zhao, himself a descendent of the House of Zhao, was a main proponent of this, and had used his family's rich estates to buy the loyalties of more Party members. Being a favoured apprentice to Yuan Shikai, he was granted access to the massive Beiyang Army, which he also used to coerce and garner support.

By the end of 1913, the Progressive Party was split decisively into 2 poles: one which supported a restoration of the Duke Yansheng (led by Liang), and one which supported a Song restoration (led by Zhao). Liang's death at the hands of a "car accident" would unify the Progressive Party, as Zhao assumed control and ruled it with an iron fist. Dissenting members were expelled if lucky or simply made to disappear. Kang, who advocated for a Qing restoration, remained an outspoken critic, although nobody really took him seriously.

In 1915, Yuan Shikai - Zhao's superior - declared himself the Emperor. The new ruler tried to increase centralization by abolishing the provincial system; however, this move angered the gentry along with the provincial governors, who were usually military men. Many provinces declared independence and became warlord states. Increasingly unpopular and deserted by his supporters, Yuan abdicated in 1916 and died of natural causes shortly thereafter. Zhao seized control of the army as Yuan's second-in-command, and then gradually distanced himself from the previous Beiyang regime with a massive purge and denounced the disgraced warlord. He then used nationalist rhetoric to widen support for the Progressive Party. From that point onwards, the Progressive Party gradually took a populist-nationalist stance towards national issues, asserting that all the local peoples were a culturally and nationally united nation. Many at the time were still alive after witnessing the humiliations of the First Sino-Japanese War and the invasion and pillaging by the Eight-Nation Alliance. Large-scale military campaigns led by the Progressives against various provincial warlords and sharply reduced special privileges for foreigners helped further strengthen and aggrandize a sense of national identity. In the 1918 National Assembly elections, the Progressives won 58 seats in the Senate and 169 seats to the House of Representatives.

In 1917, rogue warlord Zhang Xun, in defiance of the Progressive Party, conspired with Kang Youwei to restore the Qing monarchy. This came after Kang started to endorse the idea of a Qing monarch, leading to his eventual expulsion from the Party and replacement as Grand Secretary by Cai E, Liang Qichao's former student. General Zhang Xun and his queue-wearing soldiers subsequently occupied Beijing, declaring a restoration of Emperor Puyi on July 1. He then battled with Zhao Kunlun's army, who seized a quick victory and held the city under siege. The local generals - led by Zhao - used their military power to intimidate the local government, and asked for a massive indemnity to "better further national defence". However, Sun attempted to resist Zhao's Beiyang government, and established a rival government in Guangzhou. This led to a schism between the two, before Zhao decided that he should seize the initiative.

The Northern Expedition was a military campaign launched by the new Republican government against Zhao's Beiyang government. Sun had sensed a need for urgency, as leaked communiques between the Beiyang commanders showed that Zhao was going to move south and invade Sun's holdings, prompting Sun to act. The Beiyang Military, which was vastly more effective than the nationalist forces, captured various northern cities and had advanced to the Yellow River by 1918. The Republic's humiliation once more by the Versailles Treaty of 1919 resulted in the May Fourth Movement, which developed into nationwide protests that saw a surge of nationalism. The Progressives asserted that the Republican government would turn a blind eye to the danger of Western influence replacing local traditional culture, and used such rhetoric to pin the Republicans as traitors to the people. Bolstered by nationalist support, Zhao's armies took on several lesser warlords' forces, such as Yan Xishan and Feng Yuxiang's, outmanoeuvring the nationalist forces as Zhao secured a series of decisive victories against them. As they approached Nanjing, Sun Yat-sen, leader of the Nationalist forces, announced that he would accept the authority of the new government. With the final piece of the country under Progressive control, the Northern Expedition was concluded successfully. Sun would later be arrested, but posthumously pardoned as a "misguided" founding father of the new state.

In December 19, 1919, Zhao proclaimed the founding of the Zhen Dynasty - aka the second Song - and named himself Emperor. In a series of purges, he exiled and murdered various warlords and politicians, thereby assuming direct control of the country on his own. Zhang Zuolin and his son Zhang Xueliang were appointed as the new Grand Secretaries, replacing Liang Qichao and Kang Youwei (both of whom were dead at this point).

Zhao's first move was to endorse the Rural Reconstruction Movement, spearheaded by James Yen, which massively improved the country's rural education, literacy, and public health programmes. His success in unifying the country also led to the prosperous 'Beiyang Decade', as the number of high schools and elementary schools increased from 373 and 66 respectively to 1,911 and 261 respectively by 1932. A substantial increase in factories also occurred, increasing from 245 to 2,695. The Zhen National Highways began construction, leading to the connection between Beijing and Shanghai by roads, and road connections to the capitals of all 16 provinces.

The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), a theater of World War II, led to an uneasy truce between the Tongmenghui and the Progressive Party, with Japanese forces committing numerous war atrocities against the civilian population; in all, as many as 20 million civilians died. An estimated 40,000 to 300,000 Zhen people were massacred in the city of Nanjing alone during the Japanese occupation. During the war, the Zhen, along with the UK, the US, and the Soviet Union, were referred to as "trusteeship of the powerful" and were recognized as the Allied "Big Four" in the Declaration by United Nations. Along with the other three great powers, it was one of the four major Allies of World War II, and was later considered one of the primary victors in the war. After the surrender of Japan in 1945, the Zhen emerged victorious but war-ravaged and financially drained.

In 1945, the Zhen formally regained possession of the island of Taiwan and the Pescadores from Japanese rule.

Tongmenghui forces continued to wage an insurgency in the southern Zhen from the 1910s till the 1950s, as the Zhen consolidated its popularity among the peasants through land reform and multiethnic harmony. The country developed an independent industrial system and its own nuclear weapons by the 1960s.

Modern Era

Since the conclusion of WW2, various chapters of the Worker's Party of North Korea - which has since become the WPK - have been carrying seditious activities in areas populated heavily by ethnic Koreans. Most of these acts were largely perpetrated by the late Yan'an faction during the 1940s, a group of Korean exiles which had lived in the Zhen for decades. They helped form the Korean People's Party, a radical political group that advocates for Korean independence within the Zhen. Many members of the KPP faction had fought in the War of Japanese Resistance with other communist parties such as the ORA or ZPWDP, and thus had close relations with some influential political figures in the legislature. This led to the formation of a pro-Korean volunteer group, comprised of nearly 500,000 Yan'an Koreans and communist veterans, which directly intervened in the Korean War. Following the conclusion of the Korean War, however, the communists in North Korea began to support a Korean separatist movement in the northwestern regions, leading to the chagrin of the Imperial Government. Both sides eventually fell out, but major economic activities between both countries continue through domestic communist parties. North Korean agents, masquerading as refugees or defectors, are suspected to have taken part in sowing dissent. This has flared up especially after a deterioration of ties with North Korea, with the 2014 execution of Jang Song-thaek, the 2013 ransom kidnapping of 16 Zhen fishing crew, the 2017 sanctions against the country, and 2015 North Korean border intrusions being major catalysts for antagonisation.

In the 1960s, massive ethnic strife occurred between the Dzungars and Manchu minorities in the Tianshan Beidao and Tianshan Nandao, over vengeance for the Dzungar breakup under the Qing. After the Qianlong Emperor led Qing forces to victory over the Dzungar Oirat (Western) Mongols in 1755, he originally was going to split the Dzungar Khanate into four tribes headed by four Khans, the Khoit tribe was to have the Dzungar leader Amursana as its Khan. Upon the breakup of the Dzungar nation, Qing Manchu Bannermen and Khalkha (Eastern) Mongols enslaved Dzungar women and children, and brought in Han, Hui, Uyghur, Xibe, and Kazakh colonists, displacing the native population. Historical discontent between the two groups reached a flashpoint, eventually culminating in race riots in the city of Khotan in 1962 when 5 Manchus were lynched. The 1962 riots, which occurred alongside the LinkZhen-Indian War, led to massive destabilization in the West. The Progressive-led government moved in to intervene, ending the massive race riots. However, continued hostility between the Dzungars and the Manchus is frequent. Race riots have occurred across Tianshan Nandao in 1964, 1966, 1968, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2012. The Dzungar-Manchu conflict has persisted for decades, in which a total of 1,000 have been killed on both sides.

Since reform and opening up, the Zhen space program has become one of the world's most active. In 1970, the Zhen launched its first satellite, Dong Fang Hong I, becoming the fifth country to do so independently. In 2003, Zhen became the third country to independently send humans into space, with Yang Liwei's spaceflight aboard Shenzhou 5; as of 2015, ten Zhen nationals have journeyed into space, including two women. In 2011, the Zhen's first space station module, Tiangong-1, was launched, marking the first step in a project to assemble a large manned station by the early 2020s. In 2013, the Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover were successfully landed onto the lunar surface. It later became the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon. As of right now, the Zhen is developing its own satellite navigation system, dubbed Beidou, which began offering commercial navigation services across Asia in 2012 and global services by the end of 2018. Now, the Zhen belongs to the elite group of three countries—US and Russia being the other two—that provide global satellite navigation.


Geography

The Dynasty's landscape is vast and diverse, ranging from the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts in the arid north to the subtropical forests in the wetter south. The Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Tian Shan mountain ranges separate China from much of South and Central Asia. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, the third- and sixth-longest in the world, respectively, run from the Tibetan Plateau to the densely populated eastern seaboard. The country's coastline along the Pacific Ocean is 14,500 kilometers long and is bounded by the Bohai, Yellow, East China and South China seas.

In the east, along the shores of the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, there are extensive and densely populated alluvial plains, while on the edges of the Inner Mongolian plateau in the north, broad grasslands predominate. The Southern Zhen is dominated by hills and low mountain ranges, while the central-east hosts the deltas of the Dynasty's two major rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. Other major rivers include the Xi, Mekong, Brahmaputra and Amur. To the west sit major mountain ranges, most notably the Himalayas. High plateaus feature among the more arid landscapes of the north, such as the Taklamakan and the Gobi Desert.

A major environmental issue in the Zhen is the continued expansion of its deserts, particularly the Gobi Desert. Although barrier tree lines planted since the 1970s have reduced the frequency of sandstorms, prolonged drought and poor agricultural practices have resulted in dust storms plaguing the country's north each spring, which then spread to other parts of East Asia, including Japan and Korea. The Zhen's environmental watchdog, ZEW, stated in 2007 that the country is losing 1,500 square miles of land per year to desertification. Water quality, erosion, and pollution control have become important issues in the Zhen's relations with other countries. Melting glaciers in the Himalayas could potentially lead to water shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Climate

The Zhen's climate is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons, which lead to pronounced temperature differences between winter and summer. In the winter, northern winds coming from high-latitude areas are cold and dry; in summer, southern winds from coastal areas at lower latitudes are warm and moist. The climate in the Zhen differs from region to region because of the country's highly complex topography.

The Zhen has a very agriculturally suitable climate and has been the largest producer of rice, wheat, tomatoes, brinjal, grapes, watermelon, spinach in the world.

Fauna

The Zhen is one of 17 megadiverse countries, lying in two of the world's major biogeographic realms: the Palearctic and the Indomalayan. By one measure, the Zhen has over 34,687 species of animals and vascular plants, making it the third-most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil and Colombia.

The Zhen is home to at least 551 species of mammals (the third-highest such number in the world), 1,221 species of birds (eighth), 424 species of reptiles (seventh), and 333 species of amphibians (seventh). Wildlife in the Zhen share habitats with and bear acute pressure from a massive population of humans. At least 840 animal species are threatened, vulnerable or in danger of local extinction in the Zhen, due mainly to human activity such as habitat destruction, pollution and poaching for food, fur and ingredients for traditional medicines.

Endangered wildlife is protected by law, and as of 2005, the country has over 2,349 nature reserves, covering a total area of 149.95 million hectares, 15% of the Zhen's total land area. The country signed the Rio de Janeiro Convention on Biological Diversity on 11 June 1992, and became a party to the convention on 5 January 1993. It later produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with one revision that was received by the convention on 21 September 2010.

The Zhen has over 32,000 species of vascular plants, and is home to a variety of forest types. Cold coniferous forests predominate in the north of the country, supporting animal species such as moose and Asian black bear, along with over 120 bird species. The understorey of moist conifer forests may contain thickets of bamboo. In higher montane stands of juniper and yew, the bamboo is replaced by rhododendrons. Subtropical forests, which are predominant in the central and southern Zhen, support as many as 146,000 species of flora. Tropical and seasonal rainforests, though confined to Yunnan and Hainan Island, contain a quarter of all the animal and plant species found in the Zhen. The country has over 10,000 recorded species of fungi, with nearly 6,000 considered as higher fungi.

Location Names

Under the Zhen, a variety of locations were renamed, with political motivation being the primary cause. For example, some places in the Empire were renamed to honour Emperor Taizu or Emperor Dongfeng. Sometimes, a geographical name reverts to its former, older form.

Name

Location (IRL)

Remarks

Jiangning

Nanjing

Under the Qing dynasty, the area was known as Jiangning and served as the seat of government for the Viceroy of Liangjiang.

Jiangzhou

Chongqing

Tradition associates the city with the ancient State of Ba. This new capital was first named Jiangzhou.

Xin'an

Hong Kong

During the Qing, the city was administered by Xin'an County. Its name eventually became a holdover from the past centuries.

Weihaiwei City

Weihai

Never renamed after 1949.

Shuntian

Beijing

Literally translated to 'Obedient to Heaven'. It was renamed by Yongle Emperor as he usurped and defeated the Mongol Yuan.

Dihua

Wushi/Urumqi

Neer renamed after 1954.

Guisui

Hohhot

In 1913, the government of the new Republic united the garrison town of Suiyuan and the old town of Guihua as Guisui.

Lin'an

Hangzhou

From 1138 to 1276, the city was the capital of the Southern Song dynasty and was known as Lin'an (臨安).
It was a center of trade and entertainment and the nexus of the main branches of the civil service. It was renamed in 1919 to commemorate the city's status as the center of Zhen civilization.

Xijing

Xi'an

The Ming name "Xi'an" was changed back to Xijing ("Western Capital") in 1930.

Shencheng

Shanghai

Shencheng ("Shen City") was an early name originating from Lord Chunshen, a 3rd-century BC nobleman
and prime minister of the state of Chu, whose fief included the city.

Taizu City

Zhongshan City

Until 1925, the city was known as Xiangshan ('Fragrant Mountain'). The city was renamed in honor
of the warlord Zhao Kunlun, who had adopted the era name of Taizu.

Xishan

Shanxi

Shanxi was controlled by the warlord Yan Xishan during the Republican era, who devoted himself to
modernizing the region and developing its resources during his reign over the province.
Yan was sincere about his attempts to modernize his fief, and achieved success in some regards.
He was possibly the warlord most committed to his province in his era, and as a result, the province
was renamed to Xishan in 1960 to commemorate his achievements.

Dawan City

Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Taizu City, Jiangmen, Huizhou, and Zhaoqing

Merged in 2020. The name "Dawan" stands for "Greater Bay", citing the new megacity's status as an integral part of the Greater Bay Area initiative.


Demographics

The Zhen is a diverse country, consisting of many religious and ethnic groups that are unified through a shared language and national identity. This 'national identity' is closely associated with the concept of the Zhonghua minzu, which is a key political term in modern Zhen nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnicity, and race in the Zhen nationality. This concept was established during the early Zhen (1912-1932) periods to include Han people and four major non-Han ethnic groups: the Manchus, Hui, Mongols, and Tibetans, under the notion of a union of five races.

Nowadays, it is symbolically representative of one multi-ethnic statehood based on a single Zhen nationality.

Population

The national census of 2010 recorded the population of the Zhen as approximately 1,370,536,875. About 16.60% of the population were 14 years old or younger, 70.14% were between 15 and 59 years old, and 13.26% were over 60 years old. The population growth rate for 2013 is estimated to be 0.46%. The Zhen used to make up much of the world's poor; now it makes up much of the world's middle class. Although a middle-income country by Western standards, the Zhen's rapid growth has pulled hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty since 1978. By 2013, less than 2% of the Zhen population lived below the international poverty line of US$1.9 per day, down from 88% in 1981. The country is on its way to eradicate national poverty completely by 2019.

The Zhen has urbanized significantly in recent decades. The percent of the country's population living in urban areas increased from 20% in 1980 to over 55% in 2016. It has over 160 cities with a population of over one million, including seven megacities (cities with a population of over 10 million). Shanghai is the Zhen's most populous urban area while Chongqing is its largest city proper in terms of area. By 2025, it is estimated that the country will be home to 221 cities with over a million inhabitants.


Government

govt

Foreign Relations

foreign relations

Military

The Imperial Armed Forces serve as the armed forces of the Dynasty. It consists of five professional service branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force. Units around the country are assigned to one of five theatre commands by geographical location. The IAF is the world's largest military force and constitutes the second-largest defence budget in the world. It is also one of the fastest modernising militaries in the world and has been termed as a potential military superpower, with significant regional power and rising global power projection capabilities.

Law Enforcement

The Zhen Legal System refers to the laws, regulations, and rules used in the Zhen from 1919, when the Zhen imperial dynasty was proclaimed. It is a continuation of Traditional legal customs, and has undergone continuous development since at least the 11th century BC. This legal tradition is distinct from the common law and civil law traditions of the West – as well as Islamic law and classical Hindu law – and to a great extent, incorporates elements of both Legalist and Confucian traditions of social order and governance.

Key Features

The most striking feature of the Zhen legal system is that it was an inquisitorial system where the judge, usually the district magistrate, conducts a public investigation of a crime, rather than an adversarial system where the judge decides between attorneys representing the prosecution and defence.

Two traditional terms approximate "law" in the modern Western sense. The first, fǎ (法), means primarily "norm" or "model". The second, lǜ (律), is usually rendered as "statute".

Leniencies

Leniency is applied according to the Eight Deliberations:

  • Relatives of the sovereign (included the relatives of the sovereign of the sixth degree of mourning and closer. In addition, the sovereign's paternal grandmother's and the sovereign's maternal relatives within the fifth or closer degree of mourning, the sovereign's consort's relatives within the fourth or closer degree of mourning were also considered)

  • Old acquaintances of the sovereign (those who had been in the sovereign's service for a long period of time and thereby merited this favor)

  • Individuals of great virtue (included worthy people whose speech and conduct was greatly virtuous and may be taken as a model for the country)

  • Individuals of great ability (included people of great talent, able to lead armies, manage the affairs of government, correct the course of the emperor, and serve as a model for human relationships)

  • Meritorious individuals (included those of great achievement and glory because of their capability of leading armies for a long distance or civilizing the multitudes)

  • High officials (included all active duty officials of the third rank and above, titular officials of the second rank and above, and persons with noble titles of the first rank)

  • Individuals exceptionally zealous at their government duties

  • Guests of the state/sovereign (descendants of previous dynasties were treated as guests of the state who could enjoy a legal privilege)

The Eight Deliberations were established by the Wei Dynasty during the Three Kingdoms period and originated from similar regulations in the Rites of Zhou. These suggested that criminals qualified under the aforementioned eight conditions could be considered for a commutation of sentence.

Since 1919, these regulations were amended to keep up with contemporary times. For instance, foreign diplomats or heads of state who committed a crime in the Zhen can be granted the Deliberation for Guests of the State/Sovereign, while the Deliberation for high officials was removed in 1920.

Varieties of law

Zhen Law can be divided into the "official" law and "unofficial law".

The "official law" emanates from the authority of the Sovereign. The doctrine of separation of powers was unknown in the Zhen until the 20th century. In particular, judicial and administrative functions were performed by magistrates rather than by separate persons. The Sovereign delegated many of his administrative and judicial powers to his officials while reserving for himself the legislative function.

Official law may itself be divided into two main components: penal law and administrative law. The former would prescribe punishments for certain behaviour, and the latter defined the duties of the officials.

By contrast, "unofficial" law was the customary law of the people, rules that developed in localities or in merchant guilds for the handling of matters of common concern.

Of these varieties, only penal law has been systematically studied by foreign scholars. The complexity of the Chinese administrative system has made it difficult for foreign students to acquire a general familiarity with the legal principles that govern it. The study of unofficial law has also been limited due in part to the fact that the data are contained in hard-to-access source materials, or among common customs.

Penal law

The centrepiece of the penal law is the "code of punishments" issued by each dynasty at its inception. The penal codes contain only rules that prescribe punishments for specific offences, rules that define generally the allocation of punishment, or those that establish principles of interpretation. Each offence was allocated a specific punishment. The task of the magistrate was to identify the proper name of the offence disclosed by the facts. Determination of the correct punishment automatically followed.

The penal code was seen as an indispensable part of government rules, yet punishments were still to be humane. The five regular punishments established by the Zhen code were, in descending order of severity: death, exile, penal servitude (forced labour), beating with a heavy stick, or beating with a light stick.

The penal codes were divided into a "General Principles" and a "Specific Offences" section. Consequently, to deal with the problem of changing circumstances, the Ming started the practice of adding substatutes to the code for more specific and detailed situations. Explanatory commentaries were added to the penal codes. In terms of penal rulings, one could argue that the system incorporated both civil and common legal traditions - rules and punishments were based on codified, prescribed statutes, but in cases where no ambiguous article or substatute could be invoked, previous decisions by the Board of Punishments can function as "precedents".

Administrative law

Administrative law was well developed in the Zhen, as most of its basic framework was laid down during the Zhou Dynasty. Under administrative law, the sovereign was supreme and hence above the law. The sovereign could make the law, override existing laws, and amend administrative decisions taken in his/her name. Although autocratic, the very existence of the complex bureaucratic machinery constituted a check on the arbitrary exercise of power. For instance, it is forbidden for a person to take government office in their native regions. This method was used as a means to reduce localist rebellion, favouritism, and corruption.

On occasion, the sovereign might modify a capital sentence referred to him/her by the Board of Justice for his/her approval, but it was always done so with reference to the facts of the particular case, and explained in an edict the reasons for the change made. If the change was not proper, remonstrances by officials would typically force the sovereign to accept that one had to act in conformity with the existing law.

Customary law

Customary law, dealt with what in the West is termed private law or civil law. In particular, it comprises rules governing matters of contract and property. In contrast with Western systems in which civil law preceded criminal law, in the Zhen legal system, the reverse was true. Magistrates could rule on civil cases from the provisions of the penal code directly if a matter was instated in the penal code. This typically included disputes regarding debt and usury, dealings with land, the borrowing and pledging of property, and the sale of goods in markets, and so on.

Typically, most of a magistrate's work involved the settlement of civil disputes. Scholars argue that the Zhen system of justice was fair, efficient, and frequently used in the settlement of disputes.

Land law

Use of property was divided into topsoil and subsoil rights. Landlords with subsoil rights had a permanent claim to the property if they paid taxes and received official seals from the government, but did not have rights to actively use the land. Instead, those with topsoil rights paid the subsoil landlord rent or a fee for land rights. These included the right to farm and live on the land, as well as the right to independently sell or lease the topsoil rights to another party. So as long as another party held topsoil rights, the party holding subsoil did not have the right to actively use the land or evict the topsoil owner.

Land, like other forms of property, was seen as being held collectively by the family and not individuals within the family.

Another concept in imperial property rights was the conditional sale of a property. These conditional sales allowed the seller (or his/her family) to buy back the seller's land at the original market price (without interest). The assumption was that land, having been held by a family for generations, should stay with the same family.

Criminal procedure

Suspects and criminals were arrested by the county police or the posthouse chiefs who were subordinate to the county chief of police. One important principle of traditional law was that a person could not be convicted of a crime without a confession. Because a confession was required for a conviction and sentence, judicial torture is legalized.

Typically, court summons are given through 'Paper Yamen Runners', which are pieces of paper on which a Yamen Runner is drawn. The paper is also inscribed with the acts of litigants, and an order for them to show up in the court or pay fines/taxes. Prefects and magistrates would issue Paper Yamen Runners as a means to compel people to go to court, or pay the government what it is owed.

Tradition dictated that the plaintiffs were responsible for taking litigants to the court first. Should the plaintiff fail this responsibility, a Paper Yamen Runner can be issued to compel the litigants to come to court. If both methods fail to bring the litigant to court, a Yamen Runner is sent to arrest the litigant. This way, people can be less bothered by Yamen Runners. However, this methodology is usually only used to deal with mild crimes - for serious crimes such as murder, theft, gambling, and fighting, Yamen Runners will be sent directly for arrest.

In principle all criminal cases, whatever their gravity, were heard first in the court of the district in which the facts occurred. The magistrate investigated the facts, determined guilt or innocence, and then proposed the sentence for the offence as prescribed by the criminal code. Whenever a sentence of greater severity than a beating was applicable, it was necessary to forward the case to the next superior court in the hierarchy, that of the prefecture's, for rehearing.

The prefect's decision was final only in cases of penal servitude. Cases of exile or death were automatically reviewed by the provincial governor. All homicide cases and all cases attracting the death sentence were sent to the capital for review by the highest judicial tribunal, the Board of Punishments. No sentence of death could be implemented, except in extreme circumstances, without express approval from the Sovereign.

Law Enforcement

Within a local yamen, the bureaucrat administered the government business of the town or region. Normal responsibilities of the bureaucrat includes local finance, capital works, judging of civil and criminal cases, and issuing decrees and policies. Yamens varied greatly in size depending on the level of government they administered, and the seniority of the bureaucrat's office. However, a yamen at a local level typically had similar features: a front gate, a courtyard and a hall (typically serving as a court of law); offices, prison cells and storerooms; and residences for bureaucrats and their staff.

Each Yamen functioned as a central police station, employing a group of law enforcement agents known as Yamen Runners. Yamen runners are further subdivided into 3 categories: the Zao, Zhuang, and Kuai. They worked as a bridge between the common people and the government.

The Zao serve as officials' bodyguards, typically following officials to guarantee their safety. Their duties include serving as court officers during trials, standing on both sides of the court to maintain order, questioning suspects in court, applying minor punishments (i.e: beatings), and performing the duty of escorting prisoners. They have their own unique black uniforms. The Zhuang are similar to contemporary beat cops, with their main duties covering street patrols. In contemporary times, they are outfitted and armed as such. Meanwhile, a Kuai will typically be responsible for summoning defendants and witnesses to the courts, perform trips for courts (if needed), and also as tax collectors for remote areas. Kuai personnel do not have their own uniform, but they are required to hang a badge on the waist belt to identify themselves.

Making the law

Where a new piece of legislation was being considered, care would be taken to assess its relationship to the existing law. Laws were made through the National Assembly, then shown to the sovereign to get the law formally implemented.

Other Characteristics

Equality before law was never officially accepted as a legal principle and as a legal practice. This is seen in instances such as the 'Eight Deliberations'.

Unlike in the West, where secular and religious powers co-existed and fostered a tradition of pluralism, the traditional Zhen legal system, as a tool of the sovereign, has never encountered strong counterparts, and therefore never tolerated the existence of any alien powers and legal rules other than those of the sovereign.

In contrast to many other peoples, the locals never attributed their laws to a divine lawgiver. The same is true for the rule which governed the whole of life, and which therefore might legitimately be called "laws"; no divine origin is found for traditional rules of correct behaviour either.

Outstanding Issues

Social, political, and environmental issues in the Zhen are wide-ranging, many being the combined result of economic reforms set in place in the late 1970s, the nation's political and cultural history, and an immense population. Due to the significant number of social problems that have existed throughout the country, the government has faced difficulty in trying to remedy the issues. Many of these issues are exposed by local media, leading some academics to assert that a fragile social balance and a bubble economy makes the Zhen unstable, while others argue local societal trends have created a balance to sustain itself.

Since the economic reforms in the Zhen began, income inequality has increased significantly. The GINI Coefficient, an income distribution gauge, has worsened from 0.3 back in 1986 to 0.42 in 2011, potentially becoming a source of social destabilization. The growing wealth gap can be seen as a byproduct of various economic and social development policies, which highlight social and political instability, discrimination in access to areas such as public health, education, pensions, and unequal opportunities for the people. Market income – mainly wages – has been the driving factor in shaping urban income inequality since the economic reforms in the country, while the widening rural-urban income gap is due to low salaries for employees and migrants in many companies coupled with rapidly growing profits for the management of State-owned enterprises, real estate developers and some private companies. The urban-to-rural income ratio stood at 3.33:1, and continues to widen.

Employment distribution has been an important issue since it began initiating reforms. The previous state-led system of employment has been restructured to accommodate the market economy, which has caused massive layoffs, sending many rural citizens to seek employment in the cities. These factors gave rise to the competitive labor force, but have also increased unemployment. The unemployment trend is attributed in part to the efforts of the Imperial Government to make its SOEs more efficient. Many heavily industrialized coastal areas and cities are experiencing an employment shortage due to the runaway growth of the economy, while some less industrialized inland regions suffer from unemployment.

There are also related social problems to unemployment. These include the fact that the country's social insurance system is considered within the primitive stage of development, exposing employees to further problems in cases when the government allows the companies they work for to be liquidated. Pensions are extremely limited in quantity and oftentimes not enough to sustain a living, especially for the rural elderly.

Tofu-dreg projects, meaning poorly built infrastructure, are also a major issue. Some projects are poorly executed, resulting in subpar structural integrity that formulates a hazard to public health.

Domestic and transnational criminal organizations carry out human trafficking in the country, luring women and children from Mongolia, Burma, North Korea, Russia, and Vietnam for forced labour and slavery.

There is also a lack of strong relationship between state-funded research and the private sector, seen through poor commercialization and technology transfer of university research, and a lack of critical scholarship and monitoring of research quality, which impedes academic efforts.

Bloated staffing in the civil service and redundant government agencies are also major problems in the Zhen.


Economy

In practice, the Empire takes a somewhat laissez-faire approach to the economy, as domestic trade was unregulated. With certain exceptions, the state set out specific parameters for economic activity, such as taxes or quotas for certain resources. The government also had a monopoly on the salt trade, requiring licenses for the transport of salt to, from, through, and across its territories. This was a source of revenue, alongside the Likin tax, which charged a 0.1% tariff on all sold goods. The tax would later be amended to a 3.5% tariff on foreign imports. Unlike other countries, the Dynasty hosts a vast continental market, with no legal impediments to the movement of goods across provincial boundaries, making internal trade efficient.

The Zhen is the world's largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods. It is also the world's fastest-growing consumer market and second-largest importer of goods. It is the largest trading nation in the world and plays a prominent role in international trade in recent years. The Zhen joined the WTO in 2001 and has free trade agreements with several nations, including ASEAN, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea and Switzerland. The provinces in the coastal regions tend to be more industrialized compared to regions in the hinterland. As the Zhen's economic importance has grown, so has attention to the structure and health of the economy. The Zhen's largest trading partners are the US, EU, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brazil. The Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange are one of the world's largest stock exchanges by market capitalization and trade volume. With 783 million workers, the Zhen labour force is the world's largest as of 2019. It ranks 31st on the Ease of doing business index and 28th on the Global Competitiveness Report.

The Board of Works has also endorsed strategies which are aimed at the relatively poorer regions in an attempt to prevent widening inequalities:

  • Zhen Western Development, designed to increase the economic situation of the western provinces through capital investment and development of natural resources. In 2020, the plan was amended to include this new Redevelopment Programme, on top of the ZWD's current projects.

  • Revitalize Northeast Zhen, to rejuvenate the industrial bases in the Northeast Zhen. It covers the three Northeast provinces, as well as Inner Mongolia.

  • Rise of Central China Plan, to accelerate the development of its central regions. It covers six regions: Shanxi, Henan, Liangjiang, and Huguang.

  • Third Front Movement, focused on the southwestern provinces.

    Currency

    The currency of the Empire is the Zhen Gold Dollar (ZGD), which was an umbrella term covering both copper and silver currency. Copper coins in smaller denominations (made of 1 part nickel, 3 parts copper, and 2 parts lead) were used for everyday, smaller transactions, whilst banknotes were used for larger transactions and for the payment of taxes. The Board of Revenue has in place a linked exchange rate system for the ZGD, which pegs it to silver at a fixed rate of 154 ZGD = 1 tael of silver.

    In this unique linked exchange rate system, the Board of Revenue authorises a number of banks to print banknotes and mint copper coinage provided that they deposit an equivalent value of silver taels with the Board of Revenues. The minting of silver remains a duty of the Board of Works. Only minted silver can be accepted as legal tender - unminted silver is accepted exclusively as a commodity.

    Under said licence, the following commercial banks are licensed to issue their own banknotes for general circulation in the Zhen:

  • Bank of the Board of Revenue (大震户部銀行)

  • Loong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (龍港上海匯豐銀行)

  • Bank of Communications (交通银行)

  • Agricultural Bank of the Zhen (大震农业银行)

  • Minsheng Bank (民生銀行)

  • Postal Savings Bank of the Zhen (大震郵政儲蓄銀行)

    These banks issue their own designs of banknotes in denominations of $10 ZGD, $20 ZGD, $50 ZGD, $100 ZGD, and occasionally, $500 ZGD and $1000 ZGD.

    In practice, the unique linked exchange rate system is strictly controlled by the Board of Revenue in the foreign exchange market, by controlling supply and demand of ZGD. By this arrangement, the Board guarantees the exchange of silver to ZGD and vice versa. When the market rate is below the defined rate, the banks will convert silver taels to ZGD from the Board of Revenue, increasing the ZGD supply and causing the rate to climb back. The same mechanism also works when the market rate is above the defined rate, wherein the banks will convert ZGD back to silver taels.

    The ZGD has now moved to a managed floating exchange rate based on market supply and demand with reference to a basket of foreign currencies. In July 2005, the daily trading price of the U.S. dollar against the ZGD in the inter-bank foreign exchange market was allowed to float within a narrow band of 0.3% around the central parity published by the Bank of the Board of Revenues; in a later announcement published on 18 May 2007, the band was extended to 0.5%. On 14 April 2012, the band was doubled. On 17 March 2014, the band was doubled again. The Board of Revenues has stated that the basket consists of the USD, EUR, JPY, KOW, GBP, RUB, baht, AUD, CAD, SGD, and NZD.


    Basic design template for banknotes.

    The banknotes printed by the banks are required to have security features to prevent counterfeiting. Although different banks have different designs, universal design features exist. These include the containing of the characters "鈔寶清大" (written from right to left) within 4 circles at the top of every banknote. Required approval stamps and seals by the Board of Revenue were in vermilion or orange, and were exactly 57x57 millimetres in size. Beneath the top inscription, it was required to have a rectangular border, with 2 dragons below the border striving for a pearl akin to the manner depicted on the Zhen flag. On the side frame, it was required to have circular medallions containing the characters "天下通行" ("To circulate under the heavens") on the right and the characters "巧平出入" ("Payable at face value") on the left. The reign title, year of circulation, terms of circulation, serial number, and denomination were also required features.

    Another required security feature of Zhen banknotes were thin hairlike brush strokes. These black ink strokes were premade prior to the cutting of the notes, and would overlap with the counterfoil that remained in the paper tallies (that the bills were cut out from). These tallies were kept by the issuing banks when the banknote was cut and later removed. As these brushstrokes contained hundreds of very small hairlines, each banknote would have its own distinct, random patterns, matched to a serial number. By comparing two halves and the serial number, the banknote could only be declared genuine if the patterns matched.

    On the terms of circulation, all banks' banknotes are required to include a line where bringing or informing counterfeiters in for arrest was rewardable.


    References
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