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October 10

In 1928, exactly twenty-four years after the Dogger Bank Incident brought Great Britain into the Russo-Japanese War, the beginnings of a functional Chinese state threatened the status quo in the Far East.

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek named director of the State CouncilBecause the fall of the Tsar had created an Anglo-Japanese hegemony, an unlikely alliance of two sea-faring island nations that permitted the Royal Navy to redeploy its resources elsewhere safe in the knowledge that British Colonial possessions were un-threatened. Part of that redeployment of armed forces would eventually be used to defend the home islands from the rise of nationalism in Europe. And of course this turn of events was somewhat iconic, given the emergence of a nationalist strongman in China - "Generalissimo" Chiang Kai-shek. A discipline of Dr Sun Yat-sen, he saw China as the natural regional great power, seeing long-term opportunity by stepping into the vacuum left by the Tsar.

Although they failed to grasp that China was a civilization rather than a nation, the imperial governments in London and Tokyo did realize that they had a serious problem on their hands. The tried and tested solution was of course sowing disunity inside China. By process of elimination, a review of possible options was short-listed down to just feasible one - clandestine support for the opposition. This was funnelled through a minor military official called Mao Zedong, a dynamic individual who eventually emerged as the most influential leader of the Communist Party of China.

But despite this development, Chiang launched the so-called Republican Era, pressing ahead with a rebuilding programme based upon the principles of military rule, political tutelage, and constitutional rule. Before too long, it became apparent that in Peking the dragon seeds of World War Two were being sown by the "Red General".