On the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Americas, I wrote up a little booklet of alternate history. Here, it was not Christopher Columbus who "sailed the ocean blue." Here, it was a seafaring explorer from China, named Meng Ling-ch'u. "Published for the Crown by the Government Publishing House of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland, and Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, 1992."
Six Hundred Years in the New World
A fleet of small ships, sailing day after day through uncharted seas-- sailing to find new trading routes-- sailing beyond the bounds of the known world. And in the forecastle stands the navigator, taking readings with his instruments while day by day his ships sail farther and farther east...
Six hundred years ago, the course of history was forever changed. This year we observe the sexcentenary of those fateful voyages in which Old World met New World. Of those who commemorate this event, some-- such as our neighbors, the mighty Iroquois Confederacy-- predate that discovery, while others-- such as our own people-- are latecomers to the drama. Yet, from the hills of the fabled city of K'uanking on the western bay, to the Iroquois steel forges of Monongahela, to our own humble fishing banks, the course of history has been forever changed. Changed-- by a navigator who set forth on a voyage of discovery one day, six hundred years past.
The Voyages of Meng Ling-ch'u
The great Chinese scholar and navigator Meng Ling-ch'u (1352-1423) began his career as a sailor trading with Annam, Burma, and India. One journey carried him as far west as the island of Zanzibar.
Returning to the Ming Imperial Court at Nanking, Meng studied geographical treatises and met aged courtiers who had known the traveller from distant Frankistan, Marco Polo. Here he also perfected inventions dating from the Sung dynasty: the magnetic needle became Meng's bronze compass bowl, in which the needle floated on a cork in water, over the inscribed signs of the Chinese zodiac. The Sung astronomical clock became, under Meng's superior skill, the world's first chronometer.
Finally, Meng discovered a Persian globe of the world which had belonged to Kublai Khan. This globe suggested the possibility of an eastward trade route to Frankistan, where the Holy Roman Emperor held sway over a vast barbarian empire.
The Ming emperor Chu Yüan-chang granted Meng Ling-ch'u a fleet of junks, which set sail from Hangchow in 1386. Proceeding from island to island across the Great Ocean, Meng discovered in 1387 the islands of Hawai'i, which were brought under the suzerainty of the Dragon Throne. Leaving a garrison of soldiers, Meng returned to China. In 1389, his fleet retraced its route to Hawai'i, where it was restocked to press on to Frankistan.
The journey east was long and hard. Meng's "celestial clock" showed that the Chinese fleet had attained forty-three degrees east of Hawai'i when land was sighted. On Chinese New Year's Day of 1392, landfall was made on a cape of what is now known as the peninsula of Nanpantao [Baja California].
Meng guided his junks north along the inhospitable coast, reaching a good harbor at the present site of Fêngchiang [San Diego]. Here he established a base, and sent various expeditions exploring along the coast, as far north as the bay of K'uanking Kang [San Francisco Bay]. Meng returned with a portion of his junks by way of Hawai'i to China, where in 1394 he was received with great honor in the Imperial Court.
Meng Ling-ch'u returned across the Great Ocean in 1397, where he established a provincial capital at K'uanking [San Francisco]. From here he proceeded to extend Chinese claims over the vast, unknown regions of which the emperor Chu had appointed him governor. Three inland valleys, the Chun [Sacramento], P'ai [Fresno], and Hatsu [Imperial], proved fertile for farming, and within a few generations were yielding large crops of rice, cotton, sorghum, lentils, tea, oranges, and the New World crops of maize and the potatoe.
Under the turmoil following the death of his patron, the emperor Chu, Meng Ling-ch'u was recalled to to China and briefly imprisoned. But in 1402, the new Ming emperor, Yung Lo, restored to Meng his position, and sent him back to the New World with the first of many fleets of "treasure boats."
Meng Ling-ch'u himself often accompanied the Chinese sailors and soldiers on their journeys of exploration. Armed with cannon, the Chinese "treasure boats" exacted tribute from the natives of the New World in the name of the Emperor of China.
Meng's travels north along the temperate coast led to the discovery of the beautiful gorge of the T'ien Hô [Columbia River], or River of Heaven. Here, at the mouth of the tributary P'ei Hô [Willamette River], the city of P'eiheik'ou [Portland] grew up as an important port for fishing, agriculture, and timber. But the greatest Chinese fishing port was to be at P'eihoi [Seattle], in the great many-isled bay of P'eihoi Kang [Puget Sound] farther north. And Meng travelled also far north beyond P'eihoi, to the land of the Tlingit.
Inland exploration was soon stymied by range upon range of torrid deserts and impassible mountains. Journeying inland from K'uanking, Meng passed beyond the fertile valleys of the New World and up the first steep range of inland mountains, the P'ai Hsan [Sierra Madre]. He reached the lake of T'aho Chi [Lake Tahoe], and pressed onward into the rugged and arid wilderness beyond, which he named P'aop'enti, the Forbidden Basin [Nevada]. It was on the shore of T'aho Chi, in later generations, that the Chinese were to build a great fortress as a border outpost against incursions of the roving Hsohsonê and P'aiyüt'a.
Meng sailed in a "treasure boat" south beyond the tip of Nanpantao [Baja California], and crossed the entrance of the sea of Yung Lo Hai [Gulf of California] to the Aztec port of Mazatlan. Here, in a scene often portrayed in later artwork, Meng Ling-ch'u met with a representative of the Aztec emperor.
On a voyage which Meng led into the Yung Lo Hai and up the river Chun Hô [Colorado River] in 1417, the Chinese penetrated beyond the magnificent canyon of Ta Mun [Grand Canyon] to the land of the Hop'i and Nafêho.
Meng returned from this journey to the hills of K'uanking, where he spent his final years writing the T'ien Tao Ching, or Book of the Heavenly Way, a treatise on astronomy, geography, navigation, and philosophy, which eventually became the sixth classic of Chinese literature.
When word reached the new Imperial Court in Peking that Meng Ling-ch'u had died in 1423, the entire city was draped with white in mourning. The emperor Yung Lo issued a declaration that the new Chinese lands across the Great Ocean be named in honor of the great navigator who had discovered them: the land of Menglingch'u, or, as it has been corrupted in our English tongue, the land of America.
Chinese Expansion in America
For several generations, the Chinese provinces in America continued to grow slowly. Their growth was hampered by the fact that, even with a stopover in Hawai'i, the difficult passage of 17,000 li against the ocean current could take six to eight months.
In the 1460's, a northern passage to America was discovered, by way of what the Japanese called the Kure current. This roundabout course was a far quicker route, and from it one could detour northward to the land of the Aliüt'a [Aleuts]. Down the coast, at the limit of the temperate coastline, the Chinese established the fishing port of Fanwan [Anchorage], the northernmost outpost of the province of Menglingch'u.
"From foggy Fanwan in the north, to the new Nanking [La Paz, Baja California del Sur] at land's end in the south..." Except around K'uanking [San Francisco], and below the T'ehachapi mountains near Fêngchiang [San Diego] and Hatsu Kong [Los Angeles], Chinese settlement seldom strayed far inland, and through vast stretches toward its extremities the Chinese hold on the shoestring province was at best tenuous. For the Chinese, though willing colonists, tended to cluster, as in their native land, in the valleys and river gorges between the mountains.
As on any frontier, those who were outsiders at home came to be disproportionately represented. One group of Chinese settlers, following a revival of the ancient Mohist philosophy, found themselves beyond the pale even in this new outland province. Across the barren P'aop'enti they fled in 1448, and beyond to the inland dead sea of Tawan Hu [Great Salt Lake], where they settled and eked out a bare existence.
The Chinese were aware of the vast Aztec Empire on the opposite shore of their province's periphery. Friction arose from time to time, but the distance, and the gradual decline of the Ming dynasty at home, prevented more than the occasional and sporadic outbreak of warfare between the Chinese and the Aztecs from the mid-fifteenth to mid-seventeenth century.
Other Voyages to the New World
According to records, the Norseman Leif Erìksson landed in Vinland (the present-day Labrador coast) around the year 1000. But an awareness of the New World arrived in Europe only with the coming of the Ming "treasure boats" to Europe in 1424.
It was some time before Europeans ventured to act on this knowledge. In 1492, the Emir of Cordova dispatched a Genoese navigator named Cristobal Colón by way of the Azores to the present-day Bahamas, but nothing further came of this journey.
Another seaman from Genoa, John Cabot, was sent out by the King of England in 1497. Cabot discovered our island of Newfoundland. The English and the Franks fished off Newfoundland for many years, but it was only in 1583 that Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the island for the English crown. And only with the maritime struggles between England and the Holy Roman Empire in the mid-1700's did the English take a serious interest in Newfoundland as more than just a seasonal base for the codfisheries. (The tiny Frankish islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off our coast, are a relic of that struggle.)
The earliest attempts at the colonization of Newfoundland failed, occasional later attempts proceeded only very slowly: the permanent population of Newfoundland stood at only 120 in 1683, 12,000 in 1774, and 20,000 in 1804. From there on in, immigration proceeded more quickly. In 1832, Newfoundland (with the wilderness of Labrador) was incorporated into the United Kingdom, with its own bicameral parliament at St. John's.
However by that time, others had also come to the shores of the New World. The Cordovans came to the Bahamas in 1756. The nearby shores of the new continent they found already occupied by a well-armed and powerful native empire, the Cherokee. But beyond, in the Further Sea [Gulf of Mexico], they took and settled the large island of New Cordova [Cuba]. The mosque at Alhabana [Havana] dates from 1783. Further Cordovan advance was checked by the Chinese settlements on the islands of the Nearer Sea [Caribbean].
Farther to the south and east, the princes of the Mandingo crossed the Atlantic to the mouth of the River of Iron [Amazon], where the capital of the Afe kingdom at Mà Tombouctou [Belém] contains a mosque erected in 1820. Afe continued to spread inland through a vast river network of tropical rain forest; the Mandingo also fanned out across the Guiana coast and the islands of the Nearer Sea, while from the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's, Mandingo and Ashanti kingdoms such as the Kwa, the Jolo, and the Asiko spread southeast and then southwest down the coast of the land the Galician Cordovans had named Breasil.
The Early Ch'ing Era in America
With the fall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, the rebel neo-Mohist warlord in America proclaimed the inland Mohist kingdom of Tawanhukuo [Utah/S. Idaho]. The American governor in K'uanking [San Francisco], however, remained neutral; with the accession of the second Manchu emperor K'ang-hsi in 1661, he acknowledged the new Ch'ing dynasty. But America became, nonetheless, a refuge for many of the Chinese Triads when the Manchus crushed the final Chinese Cheng rebellion in Fukien and Formosa.
The Emperor K'ang-hsi pressed a policy of expansion in the New World, by peace and diplomacy where possible, by force of arms otherwise. The Chinese, armed with cavalry, muskets, cannon, and rockets, waged a series of hard-fought wars against the Aztecs. These came to an end with the defeat of the Aztecs in the Battle of Tenochtitlan (1718): the Aztec emperor Cuitláhuac Moctezuma was brought in chains to the court of K'ang-hsi in Peking, where he was received and feted as a vassal of the Dragon Throne.
With the accession of the Ch'ing emperor Ch'ien-lung in 1736, Chinese expansion continued. The Chinese managed to annex the fragmented states of the Maya by negotiation, and the Maya kingdom of the Yucatec peacefully except for the pitched battle of Mayapán. Down the Chinese continued across a slender thread of land, and found spread before them two horizons for expansion. These vistas hinted that the New World was even vaster than it had appeared.
The shoestring geography of the Chinese province of America had long suggested a vast continent, but extensive mountains made inland travel difficult if not impossible. Even east of Mohist Tawanhukuo, snow-capped mountains rose in range after impassible range. True, Mohist trappers had reported that eventually the mountains gave way to an immense plain; but no one knew the extent of this inaccessible wilderness, 3,000 li distant from the bay of K'uanking. And the land of the Aztecs was hemmed on west and east, by a wider or straiter span, by the sea. At their conquest, Chinese geographers speculated that the land of the Aztecs might constitute a vast southern peninsula.
But what the Chinese now found was that the continent of America was bound, by a slender isthmus [Panama], to a further vast land to the south [South America]. And beyond the isthmus, a sea opened to the east, flanked on the south by the northern coast of this new land, and round about by a ring of countless islands. This sea was named the Nearer Sea [Caribbean]; the water that opened to the north of it, beyond the Maya and east of the Aztec, the Further Sea [Gulf of Mexico]. And the coast to the south, with its fine bay at Nankong [Gulf of Maracaibo], became known as the Huang region-- what we call the Chinese Littoral [Venezuela and Colombia].
So Chinese expansion turned in two directions. To the south lay a vast domain, the Inca Empire of Tawantin-Suyu. Efforts to subjugate the land of the Inca continued for forty years, until in 1784 in his palace in Cuzco the aged Inca Pachacuti IV swore fealty, before the Chinese general Ho-shen, to the Emperor of China across the sea.
Across the Nearer Sea, the Chinese settlers colonized the Littoral, and many of the islands of the Chinese Main. These lands, known as the "sinkhole of America," were from the beginning bound only loosely to the provincial governor in K'uanking; here for generations the Triads were to base their clandestine trade with Africa and Europe.
To the north, the Chinese found their advance into the Further Sea hampered by the Cordovans. In 1795, when the Chinese were enmeshed in colonial adventure in Europe, Ho-shen faced a standoff against the navy and the artillery of the Moorish general Ibrahim ibn-Muhamad near Alhabana.
Attempts to penetrate the eastern American mainland also proved fruitless. Like the Cordovans before them, the Chinese found that the natives had long since obtained horses and firearms from Mohist Tawanhukuo; and weapon and mount passed east from tribe to tribe. When, in the mid-1700's, the Iroquois "pine tree chief" Redjacket travelled the breadth of a continent to learn from the Mohists the art of steelsmithing, the die was cast. By some time in the 1740's, the Iroquois Long House had set up a furnace and steel works at the mouth of the Monongahela River [Pittsburgh]. From what was to become the greatest center of steel manufactory in the world, a steady supply of native-made firearms flooded the eastern continent.
The end of an era of Chinese expansion in the New World came in 1799. In that year, the general Ho-shen was struggling to hold a beleagured Chinese fortress at the mouth of the river Misisip'i. Chinese rocketry was barely holding at bay the heavily armed cavalry of the emerging Cherokee empire. A Chinese junk arrived from Europe by way of the Nearer Sea, bearing to Ho-shen a new invention of the Manchu scholars in Peking: a fine wooden box, inlaid with gold and jade, and smelling of copper and acid and zinc.
In a split instant, invisible electric waves flashed from Peking to Misisip'i. From the box, a muffled but intelligible voice emerged, speaking in Mandarin. Ho-shen suspected ventriloquism, but then replied. The voice from halfway around the world responded instantly: the former emperor Ch'ien-lung was on his deathbed; the new emperor, Chia-ch'ing, was relieving the general of his command, and of the vast riches he had accumulated in a generation of conquest in the New World.
Ch'ing Decline, Chinese World Ascendancy
The death of Ch'ien-lung marked the beginning of Ch'ing weakness and decline. Yet, paradoxically, this was also the age when China was beginning to bear a wider and wider influence on world events.
Part of the explanation lies in the Chinese advance in artifice and natural philosophy.
The seminal work by Sung Ying-hsing, T'ien-kung k'ai-wu ("The Exploitation of the Works of Nature," 1637), led to a revitalized interest in natural philosophy. In America, discoveries by Chinese naturalists in the strange new world sparked the formation of the "K'uanking Circle," dedicated to the neo-Confucian Ch'eng-Chu virtue of ko-wu, or "the investigation of things." The Ch'eng-Chu philosopher Ch'eng I (1033-1107) had written: "Every blade of grass and every tree possesses principle. Therefore, all things should be investigated. One can investigate by studying inductively or deductively, by reading books, or by handling human affairs." This was the spirit which was to animate Chinese natural philosophy from the seventeenth century onward.
In 1742, at the age of nineteen, the mathematician Tai Chen was studying the calculation of trajectories in artillery. His breakthrough to i-suan, the "mathematics of change" or fluxions, was the masterstroke which enabled much of the technical advance that was to follow. Tai Chen's work yielded important theoretical results in optics and astronomy; it also led to the precision of measurement and control necessary for the practical development of reduplicative manufacture.
The art of reduplicative manufacture was already starting to develop at this time in Manchu China and in Moghul India. Our entire modern economy depends upon its reduplication of products by resigning the office of manufacture to tireless and unerring automation. With the new method of Tai Chen, the function of mechanism could be calculated mathematically with precision. Thus renovated, reduplicative manufacture swept within a generation from China and India through the Muslim world, from Baghdad and Oman to Ayyubid Cairo, west to the Maghreb and Cordova, and south to the Mandingo, the Ashanti, and the Fulani. Likewise, it crossed to Japan, where the Japanese in their isolation began to develop and refine the devices of modern manufacture.
And so the emissaries of Ch'ien-lung began to harass the distant lands of Europe, in which they had no technical peers save the Moors. The bulk of the continent of Europe, from the Pyrenees to the Baltic, from the Bay of Biscay to the River Vistula, from the Zuider Zee to the Two Sicilies, the Chinese found beneath the sway of the Holy Roman Empire. Serfs toiled by hand and behind oxen on the land, while feudal lords in their castles served the Frankish emperor. In his vast Gothic palace outside Paris, Louis XVI, heir to the ancient throne of Charlemagne, received his Chinese visitors. It was to be a fatal mistake: in dialectic, Louis' Scotistic doctors were a match for the Mandarin scholars; but his army, drawn though it was from an entire continent, was armed with only the crudest of cannon and arquebus.
The British proved a tougher nut for the Chinese to crack. Even before Admiral Francis Drake had defended the English coast from the Moorish Armada in 1583, the British had been in contact with the wider world. Just as they had with the Cordovans, so the British proved quick to learn from the Chinese, and imitate them. And the name of the British electrician and natural philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, was renowned even in far Peking. Franklin parallelled and even independently extended the Chinese work on electricity: until the Great War of this century, the British were the only other people, besides the Chinese, to have mastered the carefully-guarded secret of speaking to the ends of the earth via electric waves.
In 1789, while Chinese expansion in the New World was reaching its full extent, Chinese pressure on Europe for treaty ports broke out into open combat. The Chinese harried the coast; they shelled Paris; and the imperial family was taken captive. In 1793, an overzealous Chinese general had the Holy Roman Emperor and his family beheaded. Overnight, the continent threatened to dissolve in confusion. The Chinese army of the Green Standard advanced across Europe from the Atlantic coast to the Rhine.
The Corsican captain Napoleon Bonaparte retreated to the Mediterranean island of San Stefano where, after concluding a hasty alliance with the Emirate of Cordova, he returned to the turmoil in Europe. Here, in 1796, the feudal lords of the new government, the Directory, acclaimed him commander in chief. Following his 1799 enlistment of the aid of the House of Saladin in Cairo, Napoleon continued his European campaigns against the Manchu invaders.
In Notre Dame cathedral in 1804, the pope crowned him the Holy Roman Emperor Napoleon I. Chinese rockets lit the winter sky overhead. In response to rumors that he had planned to seize the crown from the pope's hands and crown himself, the emperor replied sardonically in the words of one of his ancient predecessors: "Paris vaut une messe."
But at home the Ch'ing dynasty was weakening. With material and technical aid from the Omayyids of Toledo and the Ayyubids of Cairo, the European armies under Napoleon repulsed the Chinese invaders. In 1815, a treaty of peace was signed at Waterloo. It was the first time that an emperor of China had ever consented to deal formally with another crowned head except as a bringer of tribute.
History recounts the rest of the nineteenth century-- up to the outbreak of the Great War-- as a relatively quiet time of progress in culture and natural philosophy. But we should not overlook the outbreaks of turmoil which did take place. Not all of these, like the American Gold Rush which swept K'uanking in 1849, were benign, nor were they, like the petty wars among the Chinese, Cordovan, and Mandingo islands in the Nearer Sea, but a tempest in a teacup.
The T'ai P'ing rebellion in southern China (1851-64) shook the Ch'ing dynasty to its roots. The appearance of Chinese airships in the skies over London in 1877 would have meant the subjugation of the British crown, had not a receiver in Westminster intercepted the military messages of the Chinese electricians. And renewed Chinese pressure on Europe, including the 1887 cession of the port of Amsterdam to Peking, led to the rise of resentment on the still only slowly modernizing continent. In 1900, the Frankish Société de Ste. Jeanne d'Arc, known as the "Boxers" from their use of the art of savaté or kick-boxing, rose up against the Chinese in the "Boxer rebellion" under the motto of "Protect the country, destroy the foreign devils."
But by this time, China had already been gravely wounded in the Chinese-Japanese War of 1894-95, a harbinger of the century to come.
The Great War
In February 1904, the Great War began with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Two industrial powerhouses of the modern world pummelled each other with weapons rendered more destructive by the research of modern natural philosophy. Chinese and Japanese airships duelled in the skies over the Sea of Japan. Steel warships assembled in the Iroquois shipyards of Manahattoe Island fired above while beneath the water enclosed ships preyed like sharks. On the battlefield, new guns fired a hundred rounds a minute.
Under the dowager empress Tz'u-hsi, the Ch'ing dynasty had clung precariously to life. But, as war with Japan continued on and off, China began to disintegrate under rival warlords. With the death of the emperor Yüan Shih-kai in 1916, the Manchu rule over China came to an end. There followed a "time of troubles."
Rival leaders such as Hsü Shih-ch'ang, Tuan Ch'i-jui, Chiang Kai-shek, and Sun Yat-sen failed to unite China. Even in the lulls of the conflict with Japan, these and other warlords fought with one another.
In 1926, the Chinese warlord of Manchuria, Chang Tso-lin, fled before an overwhelming Japanese advance and found his way across the ocean to the Chinese province of America. Here in K'uanking in 1928, Chang was proclaimed first emperor of the Chihli dynasty, ruler of Menglingch'u, a vast Chinese empire independent of China.
In 1932, Japan renewed its hostilities in China, and in Manchuria declared as puppet emperor the Manchu pretender, P'u-i.
In 1937 full conflict broke out between Japan and China. The latter was nominally united under the warlord Chiang Kai-shek, but the Chun faction, under Mao Tse-tung, came in the course of the war to hold sway over the mountains and plains of north China, and in the lower Yangtze valley. The Japanese experienced a rapid early advance in China, but the Chinese refused to yield, and the war was prolonged year after year.
Across the ocean, in America, there was little interest in getting involved with the Great War between China and Japan. Under Chihli reign, America was at as high a stage of industrial and technical development as any land on earth, and was herself occupied with gracefully relinquishing to the Triads the Chinese Main and the new kingdom of Huangkuo in the Chinese Littoral [Venezuela and Colombia]. At the same time, the Aztecs, the Maya, and the Incas were proving restive; their respective rulers sought to be free of a vassalage to the new emperor who ruled from the hills overlooking the Western Bay.
But on December 7, 1941, Japanese airships attacked the American naval base in Hawai'i. The American emperor Chang Tso-lin declared war against Japan, and America entered into an uneasy alliance with the China from whom she had so recently broken away. America was followed by Mohist Tawanhukuo, and by Huangkuo under the regent of the White Lotus Society.
Of the years of fierce fighting that ensued, a book would be needed to tell the tale. In 1945, Chinese troops from China, from the New World, and from the southern island-continent of Tanankuo [Australia], joined to invade the islands of Japan. In the three horrible years that it took to subdue the Land of the Rising Sun, a million Allied troops, and two and a half million Japanese, died. And then China itself erupted in a final bloody spasm, a civil war which ended with the rout of the warlord Chiang Kai-shek, who fled to the island of Formosa.
The Post-War World
In 1949, silence fell across a world exhausted by the climax of more than half a century of warfare. In Peking, a victorious Mao Tse-tung proclaimed himself first emperor of the Chun dynasty. In Formosa, Chiang Kai-shek reigned over a rump kingdom of T'aiwan; vast, empty Tanankuo to the south proclaimed its own royal house; and in America, in 1952, Chang Hsüeh-liang became the second Chihli emperor. Meanwhile, Korea and then Annam began their generation-long wars to break away from Peking.
In Africa, the Mandingo, the Ashanti, and the Fulani eyed one another warily as they jockeyed to face the domains of the Sultan of Oman which extended down East Africa from Socotra to Malagasy, from Zanzibar inland to the Mountains of the Moon. And to the south, the Chinese of the Cape Colony, no longer simply a stopover between China and Frankistan, looked to their own share of the continent.
In Europe, Britain and Cordova vied for influence as the first steps were made to introduce reduplicative manufacture on a wide scale into the Holy Roman Empire. And both looked further eastward, to the domains of the Tsar of Russia.
The Muslim world, which had developed in its own sphere while the rest of the world was at war, was strategically well placed to influence events across the Old World. And arts began to come out of the Islamic Crescent like tales from the Arabian nights: barbers who did surgery on patients that slept like Adam when Eve was made from his rib; alchemists who analyzed all physical matter into two-and-ninety jarring elements; algebraist-electricians from Cairo whose intricate electric abaci counted and figured and reckoned like a djinn in his bottle.
And in the New World, Chihli America grew wealthy and powerful, safe behind its barricade of mountains and its Great Ocean; though tensions with China were never far beneath the surface, with the American alliances with T'aiwan and Tanankuo. And high in the mountains, the remote Mohists remained an enigma. And in the Chinese Littoral and the islands of the Nearer Sea, illicit goods and illicit cash and illicit intrigue flowed by moonlight on furtive junks to and from the four winds of the earth, and the worldwide impact of the schemes and financial bubbles of the Societies were held in check only by the strong hand of the Cordovan Emir through his vice-regent in Alhabana.
In Tenochtitlan, sacrificial victims are still offered up to prevent the extinction of the last of the five suns; but the Aztec rites have long since become interspersed with phrases in Chinese. Likewise, the Maya nobles in Mayapán wear a pigtail which has long since gone out of style in the land of its origin. And the Inca in Cuzco reads the Analects of Confucius, and employs Confucian principles in the government of his empire.
And to his east, over the mountains, the Afe penetrate ever further, with steamboat and machete, into the still mysterious vast forest recesses of the River of Iron and its hundred flood-size tributaries; the canopy overhead occults the stars, so that often the compass must orient the remote traveller toward Mecca for his prayers.
And to the north, we English and Irish and Franks return from fishing to the harbor at St. John's, at Corner Brook, at Goose Bay. And below us on the mainland, the Iroquois Confederacy erects towers of concrete and steel on Manahattoe, taller than any other buildings on earth. And the Cherokee, following in the footsteps of their great grammarian Sequoyah, compile an encyclopedia vaster even than the thousands of volumes drawn up in China under Ch'ien-lung. And these two mighty empires are kept from expanding across the river Misisip'i mainly by the preparations each much make, against a further bloody outbreak of their two centuries' rivalry.
This last February, on Chinese New Year's Day, the crowned heads of the world flashed their congratulations to the Chihli Emperor of America, Chang Hsüeh-liang, on the fortieth anniversary of his reign, and the six hundredth anniversary of Meng Ling-ch'u's voyage of discovery to the New World. The twenty-first century bids fair to bring even greater change than these six which have preceeded it. Who could venture to imagine what America, and the world, will be like on the septemcentenary of Meng Ling-ch'u?