Tiandi

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Overview

An interstellar nation of human origin, Tiandi is one of the eighty member states of SolGov. At once both highly conservative and highly progressive in different respects, this interstellar state with roots in Earthly Asia has recently begun to increase its influence on the rest of SolGov through a combination of leveraging their historic cultural assets and, somewhat paradoxically, encouraging emigration from its borders. Despite only controlling an interstellar territory of moderate size at best, Tiandi has historically boasted the highest population of the SolGov nation states owing to the sheer numbers of people who lived throughout the Asian continent long ago. This style of influencing its citizens to leave it for other member states of SolGov to increase its cultural reach and political power is a strategy perhaps only available to Tiandi, and its effectiveness has sometimes left the more conservative citizens of other nations wary of immigrants of Asiatic descent. Tiandi is governed jointly by a Neo-Ruist philosopher king who serves as the heart of the nation, and an overwhelmingly powerful AI which serves as its mind, composed of a neural network of an uncountable number of human brains donated by the state’s deceased citizens. Together, they delegate titles and feudal territories with a careful eye for both merit and tradition.

Few members of Tiandi care to immigrate to the United Colonies of Predstrasza, which is both highly hostile to foreigners and generally provides little political value to their ancestral nation. Techno-Russia tends to embrace immigrants from Tiandi, engaging in cultural and technological exchange that serves both nations well. The opinions of members of the Oberth Republic concerning Tiandi are divided on the same lines as the rest of its society; the insular and xenophobic half tend to be deeply distrustful of immigrants, but also admire and envy the continuing imperial rule of Tiandi itself, and the progressive half welcomes and celebrates the cultural exchange brought by the foreigners. As for the Core Worlds, they continue to dispute Tiandi’s claim to the entire continent of Asia.

History

The Asian continent was, unsurprisingly, the first part of the world to suffer from such intense overpopulation that interstellar colonization and conquest became less a matter of luxury and more a matter of incredibly urgent need, such that even as early as the founding of Neu-Königsberg in 2140, the terrestrial Asian countries were sending their citizens on bluespace journeys to colonize portions of deep space. China and India were the first of the Earthly Asian nations to leave for the stars, their efforts spurred on by the successful colonization of Neu-Konigsberg, but in only a couple of decades, countries including Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines had all soon followed, galactic colonization efforts eased by the development of the first functional, portable bluespace drives. By around 2170, and the end of the First Contact War, most of the region that would come to be known as Stellar-Asia had been defined, and, for a short while, these new interstellar nations co-existed. Unfortunately, as the region of stars the Asian continent came to rest in were filled up, and came rubbing up against other interstellar nations, the situation began to rapidly change. Tensions rose; by 2291, the stellar descendent of terrestrial China, known colloquially as OneStar, dissolved into civil war, prompting many of the other stellar counterparts of various earthly Asian nations to join in on various sides.

Perhaps, if things had been different, the Asiatic region of space would have become little different from the Colonies of Predstrasza; but fortunately for many space-faring descendants of Asian origin, a solution (however brutal) would come from out of the region OneStar had settled in. From within that highly populated nation arose a highly ambitious and highly charismatic member of the SCCP. Successfully co-opting a significant chunk of the OneStar government, tech industries, spiritual institutions, and the military into co-operating with him, the first philosopher king of what would one day come to be known as Tiandi declared independence from OneStar, abolished the communist one-party republic, joined the nation states of SolGov and crowned himself as Di Shi, after the first Earthly emperor of China, in 2292. OneStar initially attempted to quell this recession from their state; they ultimately decided not to continue its retaliation as other parts of its government began to secede. Once SolGov approved Tiandi’s membership and independence, OneStar no longer found it feasible to reabsorb Tiandi, which would have drawn SolGov to fight against them in an already difficult war, as well as present a major vulnerability to the various other opportunistic Asian nation states.

That same year, and throughout the following year, Di Shi pontificated for the first time the precepts that would eventually formalize themselves into the school of thought of Neo-Ruism, including the necessity of rulers to work for the betterment of their people, the betterment of others, and the necessity of citizens to uphold and improve to the best of their abilities the State. Breakthroughs in the creation of AI made with the help of defector OneStar scientists, combined with an encouragement of citizens’ voluntary sacrifices, ultimately led to the completion of the first fully-functional iteration of TIAN in 2294, a super-AI neural network composed of billions of human brains that would become the basis of Tiandi’s ultimate success.

Guided by the moral principles and ideas of Di Shi, and the calculations of the super-AI TIAN, Di Shi sent delegates to each nation in the region of Stellar-Asia in 2295. Those which came under the wing of the duo voluntarily included the nation-descendants of Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. Those who resisted and were thereafter conquered via military force included the nation-descendants of Japan, Malaysia, India, and the Philippines, conquests made throughout the civil war in which OneStar was engulfed. When the civil war came to an end with OneStar’s total disappearance after the use of an unknown bluespace weapon, Tiandi moved quickly to complete subjugation of the other Stellar-Asian nation states, and thereafter to reclaim the territory which OneStar had left behind. Finally united as a single state in 2300 for the first time, Di Shi formally established the System of Heart and Mind, Heaven and Earth and renamed the united region “Tiandi”, meaning heaven and earth, and referencing the joint-rule of the human emperor, Di, and the hivemind super-AI TIAN. They have been ruled according to this system ever since. Currently, they remain a part of SolGov both out of a desire to spread their cultural influence and due to calculations by TIAN that remaining in SolGov is better for the state than leaving it. With the disappearance of OneStar and the conquest of the major Stellar-Asian ethnic nation states, Tiandi is now considered the monolithic representation of Stellar-Asia.

Society

Tiandi society involves a class-based society largely defined according to “ancestral social credit”. Which is to say, Tiandi society is based on formal and informal social castes which are largely determined by a person’s Earthly ancestral backgrounds. Chinese people, being the foundation of the nation state, tend to be of the highest class. While not all people of Chinese descent are feudal lords or governors, almost all such lords and governors are of Chinese descent, and the rest of those of Chinese descent are rarely of low status, except for those from families with serious criminal histories. As for other major ethnic groups composing the population, the average citizen of Korean descent is of the upper class due to having been the most co-operative with Tiandi unification efforts outside of the Chinese. Much of the Thai population, meanwhile, can also be found among the upper class for similar levels of co-operation.

A significant number of Thai-descended citizens, however, are found in the middle class despite their similar levels of co-operation due to some lineages’ historical involvements in much Stellar-Asiatic crime. Citizens of Vietnamese descent form the majority of the middle class. Although not especially associated with criminality, and although they did co-operate with Tiandi to some extent, their co-operation was typically lackluster and a little lukewarm. Some Filipino citizens also participate in the middle class, although just as many are of lower class; the former nation to which most Filipino citizens of Tiandi once belonged had offered a token resistance to Tiandi unification, but capitulated quickly for the sake of preventing undue casualties on both sides, for which the Di granted some clemencies and privileges compared to those national backgrounds which would be relegated almost entirely to the lower classes, and lower still, the Lowborn.

Citizens of Malaysian descent dominate Tiandi’s lower class, having resisted the conquest fiercely due to a prevalence of Neo-Islamic faith, historically persecuted in Chinese nations both stellar and Earthly. Although Neo-Islamic faith was ultimately allowed to continue to exist in the borders of Tiandi, it was allowed to exist only for as long as Neo-Ruist values ultimately would supercede the values and practices of its own beliefs. Many Malaysians remain practitioners of Neo-Islam, something which many believe is part of the reason they remain firmly in the lower class. Citizens of Indian descent also make up a significant portion of the lower class, for similar reasons to those of Malaysian descent; however, their resistance was further exacerbated by the numbers of their populace, which rivalled Stellar China’s own at the time. This resulted in unnecessarily large casualties, especially on the Indian side, and as such, Indian citizens possess only a small share of the population. Furthermore, a number of Indians were also relegated not merely to lower class, but designated as Lowborns.

The Japanese population technically constitutes the most varied mix of classes, but also form the largest share of the Lowborn population of Tiandi. The fact that much of the Japanese population ultimately found themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, and relegated to the seediest and cheapest parts of Tiandi, had less to do with the resistance they offered, and more ancestral gripes still remembered by those descendant from Earthly China. That isn’t to say they didn’t resist, but it wasn’t the primary reason much of Japan became the primary constituents of Tiandi’s lowest classes. Nevertheless, a significant minority of the Japanese have now managed to uplift their classes by leveraging cultural assets to the Tiandi cause, with some Japanese having managed to uplift their classes to the point of being equals with those of Korean descent.

The population of Tiandi are also split by language. The nation as a whole speaks a language known as “Taiwanese”, but this language itself is maintained via two main dialects, in a similar vein to Mandarin and Cantonese. The first dialect, used only by the upper-most classes of Tiandi, is called “High Taiwanese”, and descends from a fusion of the Korean and Chinese languages. The second dialect, which is used by almost everyone else, and is generally also spoken by the upper-classes when mingling with the lower classes, is called “Common Taiwanese”, and descends from a fusion of High Taiwanese with the languages of the lower-classes, particularly the Japanese and Thai languages.

Government

Tiandi is a feudal society ruled in tandem by a Neo-Ruist Philosopher King, titled “Di”, and a super-AI known as TIAN. Together, they form the System of Heart and Mind, Heaven and Earth, whereby Di, representing Heart and Earth, gives direction and moral guidance to TIAN and their nation, and TIAN, representing Mind and Heaven, calculates using a vast number of variables the best plans of action to achieve the goals directed by Di.

Feudal territories and responsibilities are jointly decided upon by this combination, including the inheritance of the title of “Di”; however, any of these allotments are strippable at any time for any reason by joint decision of TIAN and Di. Those who are chosen to inherit the title of Di are expected to renounce any former titles and names, and adopt the same system used by Di Shi; their name becomes a number, the latest in a line of Di. The first Di passed away just seven years after uniting Tiandi, in 2307, his body worn away by contact with TIAN, and his mind subsequently being unified with the TIAN mainframe. The current ruler is Di Èr, the second, but having ruled for 15 years, this Di is also expected to pass his title to a new Di soon, too, and do as Di Shi did before him.

TIAN, meanwhile, is a neural network composed of multiple generations of billions upon billions of human brains donated by deceased citizens which forms a single hivemind-like AI, giving TIAN a direct connection to the previous leaders and citizens of the nation. Most attempts by other nations to create something similar to TIAN have failed due to not being able to acquire the requisite number of human brains with unified motives and values to successfully synchronize it into a single functional AI, something made possible only by the unmatchably massive population of Tiandi, who furthermore devote their whole lives to the State on ideological principle. It is highly suspected by both laypersons and academics that the uncontrolled hiveminds which now plague much of space are the results of rival nations failing on a spectacular level to reverse-engineer the AI.

Military

Tiandi possesses a military whose rank-and-file are primarily human citizens, and have amassed a great number of troops with average skill and equipped with often subpar gear. Where Tiandi shines, however, is in how they put those troops to use. Tiandi lacks traditional generals; instead, drones linked to the TIAN main frame are used to assess battlefields both terrestrial and celestial and strategies are generated according to any variables that TIAN can identify and predict. Although the strategies generated are rarely implemented flawlessly due to human idiosyncrasies on either side of the conflict, the sheer power of a super-AI calculating thousands of variables any one human is incapable of taking into account has led them to be able to more-or-less match other powerhouses within SolGov despite often inadequate equipment.

Religion

The primary “religion” of Tiandi is Neo-Ruism, an atheistic philosophy derived from a combination of the works of Kong Fuzi, Karl Marx, and the thought of the historical CCP. Although atheistic, as with classic Confucianism, Neo-Ruism nevertheless incorporates the religious rituals of many classically Asiatic faiths. Neo-Ruism is paradoxically both highly hostile and highly syncretic with other religious beliefs and practices; on the one hand, diversion from its precepts is considered a threat to the State and thus highly persecuted, but simultaneously, continued practice of ancestral religious practices and values is considered highly desirable for creating bonds within and between communities. Scholars of the Neo-Ruism ideology frequently claim that the Church of Mekhane branched from this element of their faith, given their similar use of spiritualized rituals to operate technological marvels. The Church of Mekhane tends to dispute this idea - at least, in the sense that they are primarily a heterodoxy of Neo-Ruistic philosophy.

Reverence towards persons of great authority is common; prayers are offered to ancestors and respected, acclaimed individuals from across different fields and industries, despite there being no actual belief in continued life after death. Instead, much like the newer Church of Mekhane, these prayers and religious rituals originally rooted in myth and superstition are instead understood by adherents of the philosophy to unite, orient, and focus their minds on their goals. Most of all, though, adherents of Neo-Ruism worship the state itself; the state comes above all, before all, and must rule all. Everything else, from individual pursuits, to community pursuits, to sapient rights, are all irrelevant compared to the good of the state itself. This extends to and past the point of death, where every firm adherent of Neo-Ruism offers their brains to join with the literal hivemind that forms the basis of Tiandi governance, a fairly typical element of Tiandi funerary rites.