- CONFEDERATE ALLIANCE NEWS SERVICE
Liu Bang Faux Pas
Special Correspondent Lance Alger
NEW YORK – The Chinese government has lodged a formal complaint against the Earth Security Service after an awkward encounter with delegates from the Liu Bang Colony on the floor of the Confederate Alliance Assembly. The representatives from China’s largest interstellar colony were found sitting at their sponsor state’s assigned desk for approximately fifteen minutes before being removed by security.
“It’s absolutely disgraceful that they would attempt such a thing,” said Ambassador Zhang, “And even more disgraceful that the security services would allow them to enter in the first place!” Three Earth Security Service officers have been detained for questioning as a result of the faux pas, and an investigation is underway. Even so, several high-ranking members of the Neo-Communist Party have cited the incident as treason and called for the resignation of Chief of the E.S.S., Lindon Hamel. Though it is unlikely that Hamel will resign, the rancorous response marks a new high point in the ongoing tensions between China and its estranged colony.
“What we’re seeing is the latest move in a long and angry chess game between China and Liu Bang” says Professor James Zhe, Head of the Interstellar Political Science department at Harvard University. “Liu Bang wants a little more autonomy; while China wants a little more control – and both sides are going to greater and greater lengths to achieve their goals.”
Established in 2656, Liu Bang was originally conceived as a penal colony for political dissents and protesters. Ensconced on an Io-Class moon on the far side of the Orion Nebula, Chinese leaders at the time had hoped that the inhospitable environment would serve to further isolate the outpost and its vocal inhabitants. However, a hundred years after its founding, Liu Bang has since grown into one of the most successful colonies in the galaxy. Its constitution is still regarded as a standard model for frontier democracies, and its abundant metallic resources have transformed it into a leading industrial power. “Liu Bang could easily become one of the most economically powerful planets in the Confederate Alliance,” says Zhe. “The only problem is that China needs them too much.”
According to a recent Galactic Economist study, Liu Bang’s titanium industry alone could have easily accommodated every colony project undertaken over the last ten years. Unfortunately, China’s “Inspection Laws” have made it prohibitively expensive to transport materials anywhere except to the central kingdom. As a result, Liu Bang has been a somewhat unwilling accomplice to China’s centuries-long construction boom. “Basically, they’re so worried about building their empty skyscrapers that they’ve made it illegal for us to drop our goods at our own space stations,” explains Base Council Leader Cheng Friedman. “Everything that leaves the planet has to fly to Earth before anyone can use it.”
Of course, Liu Bang – ever resilient – has an array tricks up its sleeve. Virtually alone in one of the most poorly charted areas of space, smuggling in and around Liu Bang is rampant. According to the Galactic Economist, almost 75% of all goods that leave the surface do so illegally – usually dispersed to the surrounding settlements by proxy groups and unregistered colonies.
“So what we ultimately have is an arms race of sorts. China attempts to impose its mercantilist policies on Liu Bang. Liu Bang responds by ignoring the rules. China, then, strikes back by appealing to the Assembly,” says Zhe – referring to the Overwatch Security Resolution that passed through the Confederate Alliance Assembly almost two months ago. Most of the affirmative votes are believed to have come about under intense Chinese pressure. “The Overwatch Resolution doesn’t make any sense unless you’re China,” explains Zhe. “There’s nothing out there except Liu Bang, and yet a disproportionate percentage of the C.A. fleet is now being diverted there to look for pirates and terrorists.”
Liu Bang has attempted in the past to appeal its case directly to the Assembly, but those overtures are often ignored because of its status as a territory. “We may be light-years away, but the law books still say that we’re as much a part of China as Shanghai,” laments Friedman, “It’s ridiculous, and it’s about time that the colonists did something about it.”
The delegates were released after about an hour of questioning, despite loud complaints from the Chinese government. When asked for a comment, the leader of the group, Chenghan Hoff, left a characteristically short and cryptic message: “This is just a reminder.”
“They wanted to send a message,” says Zhe, “and sitting in China’s seat is probably the most threatening message they could have sent. They just demonstrated to the whole assembly that they could replace China and nobody would know the difference. That goes far beyond the ‘you can’t control us forever’ rhetoric that we’ve heard in the past. Now they’re saying, ‘We’re bigger than you.’”
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