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This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Facade Dynasty: A collapse society scenario (2053)

Facade Dynasty:

A fresh coat of paint, and a cement based wall-patch can do wonders on architecture that is over a thousand years old. However, these techniques when applied to the thin layer of marble that enclosed a majority of Beijing's "boom-years" construction projects, just doesn't quite capture the same essence.

Between 1990 and 2014, urban growth ramped steadily in the People's Republic of China, and some of the world's largest human living centers were created in the mode and fashion of the times. Huge steel and concrete monoliths, glass encased domes and other architecture of the most cutting edge variety were to be found among China' s metropolitan areas. Brilliant reflections rippled across streets with every sunset, and light displays of the most intricate, and even interactive variety peppered skylines with advertisements. During the peak of this trend, Beijing, China's political center and a powerful economic base, was heralded the world over for it's brilliant hosting of the Olympic Games of 2008. The stunning architecture the city was displaying as the games, and the world's attention, rolled through town, captured the imagination of billions, and it amazing infrastructure was growing by the month.

But as the global economy began its disastrous downturn in early 2009, and the resource wars began to ramp up in intensity, the world that the PRC was so intent to gain the respect of began to avert their attention. As China plowed forward with its plans to out-build and out-"face" the globe, other nations were seen to be stripping down the results of industrial economics, and turning whole hearted attention to the stabilization of their societies. While Beijing, ChongQing, Macau, HongKong, and ShangHai continued to race towards "the future," the vision of that future was changing, and the availability of resources necessary to propel such a future dwindled rapidly.

Despite China's best efforts to secure stable trade relationships with Africa, South America, and Oceania, as the crunches for its potable water and oil needs, many of these nations began to stockpile whatever resources were available to them. Repealing international trade agreements and drastically raising the prices and taxes of exports, many of the nations responsible for exporting raw materials to China deemed the monetary profits of little advantage compared to keeping those resources at home. As public and private military units scoured the globe to leverage resources to their funding agencies, China's million man army was deployed to secure Asia, and whatever other assets it could.

Sadly, a rapid decline of potable water resulted in the majority of global military actions being short-lived. Logistical attacks carried out on military databases, and communications networks resulted in huge numbers of soldiers being stranded in the field, and subject to the environment in which they were stationed. As each year passes and news of another mass execution site comes through the moratorium channels, we are still realizing to extent to which military action by most nations failed, and humanity's "level" playing field was founded. For example, the camp of nearly 30,000 Chinese now living in northern Chile was initially deployed on a mission to secure lumber and possible precious metals. Encountering resistance from U.S.- and Colombian-backed private armies, and running dangerously low on supplies, the soldiers negotiated a truce, trading 80 percent of their weapons for the small pocket of forest that they now inhabit. Similar stories concerning ex-NATO coalition forces in Central Asia and the Saudi Peninsula also pepper the communication channels.

As regions continued to harbor their natural resources, and restrict their trade, the People's Republic of China brought new construction projects to a screeching halt. The highly centralized governance ordered strict prohibitions on urban development projects not imminently necessary for the maintenance of infrastructure and bare-bones housing. While the 14th five-year was aimed at de-urbanization and bolstering of security in the rural community, stemming the flow of the city-bound millions proved to be more difficult than anticipated. The thriving black markets of the city, and exploitable infrastructure for mass mobility and shelter continued to draw the rural workforces to the metropolitan areas. Those staying in the rural areas were generally members of the local Party, and worked for private gain and security. Provincial Army units were often swayed by the promises of the highest bidder, and modern warlords reigned in control of the resource wealthy areas of the PRC.

The unity and national identity that had been crucial to the forming of the People's Republic of China began to quickly unravel, and the dark under belly of the dragon-nation slowly emerged. On buildings, the crumbling stone facades began to slowly unhinge from the steel skeletons that held them. While main highways and thorough fares were well maintained initially, the rapid degradation of the cities' peripheral roadways spilled more congestion onto the main roads. As side alleys piled up with fuel-less cars, the pressures began to impede major waterworks throughout major urban centers. The "Wash" of Beijing 2028, a project aimed to clear the city's sewage system through heavy rain inducement, became a disaster of the profoundest magnitude. After the third day of deluge rains, the city's ailing water pump facilities gave out, spilling millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the underground passages of the city. The passages housed much of the electrical infrastructure for the metropolitan area, and weeks of standing water slowly brought darkness to nearly every city block in the inner three rings, and over half of the developments between the third and fourth rings.

Beijing's decent into chaos was only one example of urban disarray in the People's Republic of China and in other global super-cities. Capable urbanites fled to the city outskirts in an effort to cling to the lifestyles they had once dreamed about, where they were promptly confronted by the incoming masses in flight from the rural war zones. As groups clashed, and swaths of the cities were abandoned, the fragility of Beijing's "face" lay exposed to the people for whom it was once the key component of the term "better life."

The materials of buildings became re-cycled walls for temporary shelters. Glass plates that weren't laying shattered around streets or building floors was re-claimed for make shift water collection projects, and a variety of small scale greenhouses. Sheet metal was garnered by bands of wrench and crowbar wielding "urban recyclers," often selling the goods to resource hordes or using the materials for personal shelters, etc. The physical facade of Beijing -- the elegant gardens, the freshly painted historical monuments, the mammoth centers for sport, art, business, education, and culture-- were to become the symbols of broken hope, as time and necessity worked their way into slight, crooked gaps in the grout.

Perhaps more devastating was the collapse of the Cultural Facade that had pulled the PRC through such a radical transformation during the early 21st century. As the nation fell into disarray, the tenuous national pride and identity quickly turned itself inside out, resulting in the division of China's demographic landscape along regional, fiscal, ethnic and other distinction lines. The once powerful Party fell into vicious power cliques, and the infighting that ensued alienated nearly 60% of the representative members and nearly 80% of the provincial representation. This debasement of power forced the urban social elite to begin allocating a larger percentage of power to the resource rich rural representatives, and their new agenda. The generation gap between the middle-agers of a prosperous and growing China, the elderly who vastly outnumbered them, and the toughened-without-loyalties youth continued to be one of the largest problems the nation faced. The elderly, mainly forced to take care of themselves founded large communal installments in the outskirts of provincial urban centers. Their children, inheriting a nation on the skids, found themselves vastly outnumbered concerning the amount and type of work to be done, and the skills for which many of them had been trained. The youth, though small in number, represented a large portion of the able-bodied populous, and many, unwilling to be the caretakers for the huge number of elderly, were to be found in the ranks of private armies.

Unified China, the great anchor for the Asian continent, found itself acting more of the great hull of the necessary oil rigs that stopped coming -- sunk under the weight of plans, pirates, and need for petrol. Though China was not alone in the great global collapse that has occurred, this historian, chronicling the fall from grace in Beijing, can only offer these thoughts and shreds of information and insights. We hope that whoever is reading these, and whenever you find yourself, can find some solace in what was the dream that drove this once great nation. Like the phoenix that once symbolized this mighty nation, perhaps some flame for the future can be found in these passages.

Unknown, circa 2053

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