Shangqing Tianguo is a theocratic revolutionary state founded by Zhang Tianran and his religious movement, I-Kuan Tao (The Path of Consistence). It is considered the spiritual successor of the Taiping Tianguo, the ill-fated rebellion against the Qing Empire in the 1850s-60s. The state is controlled by the Great Teacher, a position held by the Patriarch of the I-Kuan Tao. His wife, Sun Sunzhen serves as his second in command. The I-Kuan Tao is a monotheistic religion that borrows its core beliefs from Christianity and Islam, and the philosophical teachings of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.
The Tianguo was founded during a tumultuous period of civil unrest in the 1920s. China was divided by several competing warlord cliques, none of whom could adequately prove themselves worthy of the Mandate from Heaven. The disillusioned Chinese people were inspired by the charismatic demagogue and 17th Patriarch of the I-Kuan Tao cult, Lu Zhongyi. Lu spoke of a unified China, once again a great power; truly deserving of the name "Middle Kingdom." Most importantly, however, he proclaimed that China would be for the Chinese, and the foreign devils and their running dogs would be expelled once and for all! His words rallied all those who heard them to his cause, and within a few years' time, the ranks of his cult had grown to the point that it was able to compete with more established cliques.
In 1924, Lu Zhongyi successfully broke free of the unstable de jure government by seizing the Shaanxi province and proclaiming the mountains of central China to be the domain of the Shangqing Tianguo. Lu then set about establishing a benevolent theocracy with a modern, centralized bureaucracy. Although Lu's government was largely authoritarian, it was far more stable and (some argue) more enlightened than the German-backed Qing government to the East.
Lu would never see his dream of a unified China come to fruition. He passed away in 1925, leaving the position of Great Teacher to Zhang Tianran. Zhang understood that if he was to unify China under the I-Kuan Tao, he would have to stand up to the warlord cliques and possibly major foreign powers. To make this possible, he would have to modernize and industrialize the Shaanxi province. Over the next decade, Zhang ordered the construction of several roads, railways, and factories. He also founded the Millenarian Movement Army and appointed Fang Zhimin--a respected military commander and loyal student of the I-Kuan Tao--as his supreme commander.
Under Fang's watchful eye, the Millenarian Movement Army heavily fortified the mountains. The heavy fortifications combined with the natural defensive advantage of mountain ranges allowed the Millenarians to successfully repel a grand offensive by the German Expeditionary Force, securing Shangqing Tianguo's independence, at least for the time being. As a new year dawns upon the world, the modernization program of the Shangqing has born fruit, and Zhang is ready to declare a holy crusade against the non-believers and foreign intruders. Will the Pure Kingdom Under Heaven successfully unify all of China under one ruler? Will China belong once again to the Chinese? Will the Germans and Japanese, hungrily clinging to their ill-gotten gains, be driven out once and for all? Only time will tell.
Shangqing Tianguo's government resembles a modified form of centralized democracy, a concept first proposed by an ill-fated Russian idealist. Authority is organized in the form of a three-tiered pyramid. The first and highest tier is occupied by the Great Teacher himself, Ziang Tianran, and his wife. They handle the most important national matters, hear appeals and petitions, and have the power to make binding, arbitrary decisions over matters brought to them.
The second tier is occupied by a diverse array of bureaus, each specializing in a political matter (i.e. industry, agriculture). Every month, each bureau holds a meeting, assembling a panel of randomly-selected citizens to discuss day to day matters and address problems brought to their attention by the citizenry. They are also responsible for forwarding proposals and appeals to the Great Teacher. The third and lowest tier is occupied by the citizens themselves. Theoretically, the citizens have broad access to political participation; they brief their fellow citizens on lesser matters, create the petitions to be sent to the Great Teacher for consideration, and can allocate national funds to bureaus by popular vote.
In exchange for populist access to the government, citizens are expected to dedicate their lives to the I-kuan Tao and the future of the Shangqing Tianguo. This includes, but is not limited to, conscription of all able-bodied men and women in times of war (normally, this is not an issue, as the citizens of Shangqing Tianguo are fanatically loyal to the Great Teacher). Women enjoy much of the same privileges afforded to men, both as civilians and as soldiers, which makes the Shangqing Tianguo a unique faction among the Chinese states. Unlike the repressive Qing government, soldiers are permitted to wear their hair as they wish, instead of being restricted to the traditional Manchu hairstyle.
The Qingguo Tianjun (English: "Heavenly Host of the Pure Kingdom"), known colloquially as the Millenarian Movement Army, is rudimentary and obsolete both in equipment and tactics. Only a few professional soldiers form its ranks; the rest are poorly-trained, but fanatically loyal militias. Although they are armed with Weltkrieg-era small arms, and possess neither armor nor artillery, they are estimated to be better equipped than the Ma and Yunnan Cliques neighboring them. As of this writing, Shangqing Tianguo has no air force to speak of, due largely in part to their lack of the materials and facilities necessary to construct planes.
The Millenarian Movement Army is currently led by Commander Fang Zhimin, who earned much respect and prestige after leading the successful defense against the German-backed Qing during the civil war. Despite his army's small size and poor equipment, he knows how to use the devotion of his soldiers to full effect, enabling him to hold his own against a minor power.