Chung Kuo means ‘Middle Kingdom’, and since 221 bc, when the first emperor Ch’in Shih Huang Ti, unified the seven Warring States, it is what the Han, or Chinese, have called their great country.

For them Chung Kuo was the whole world; a world bounded by insurmountable mountain chains to the north and west, by the sea to east and south. Beyond lay only desert and barbarism.

And so it was for two thousand years, through sixteen great dynasties.

But then, from the far west came young, aggressive nations with superior weaponry and an unshakable belief in progress and change. It was, to the surprise of the Han, an unequal contest and China’s myth of supreme strength and self-sufficiency was shattered.

By the early twentieth century, China was the sick old man of the East, the future, it was assumed, belonged to the West. But from the disastrous ravages of the century grew a giant of a nation, capable of competing with the West from a position of incomparable strength.

The twenty-first century, ‘the Pacific Century’ as it was known even before it began, saw China become once more a world unto itself, but this time its only boundary was space.

This is the story of what happens next...

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