Chinese Zone of Alienation
Formal Name: Chinese Zone of Alienation
Also Known As: The Zone, China, the Wasteland
Major Corporations: None, although some Vostoka and Chaebol corporations do technically operate on the borders of the region, and Barova Industries has a significant presence in Ulan Bator
Geographic Regions: All of mainland China, as well as some of the islands such as Taiwan, and much of Mongolia that is not claimed by Vostoka
Chief Executive Officer: None, although Vostoka’s chief administrator for the region is Ganzorig Jalair of ZGK
Capital City: The closest thing the region has is Ulan Bator, Mongolia, which serves as Vostoka’s administrative capital for the region and the last permanent settlement before you formally enter the Zone.
The Zone isn’t a syndicracy at all, but is included because it is a significant geographic region that covers over 9.5 million square kilometers of Asia.
It has no legal government, no recognized authority, and no one power technically claims ownership over the area. Instead, it forms a sectioned off space that no-one may legally reside in, operate within, or do business inside of. These boundaries are supposed to be globally enforced, specifically by the Chaebol, the Subcontinental Commission, and Vostoka.
For the most part, the powers that control access to the Zone don’t try particularly hard to prevent people from entering it. It’s simply too difficult, to large an area of land to control this way. Instead, they try to prevent people and especially material from coming out of the Zone. Smuggled goods, much of which might be radioactive, is especially something that gets watched for. Scavenging the wasteland of China for valuables is still a big business for a certain sort of people, because even fifty years after the bombs fell there is still much to be taken.
China’s abundant natural resources are also dormant and unused, something that galls the relentless capitalists of other syndicracies. From time to time, illegal mines and other such activities are caught operating inside the Zone, apprehended usually by a different syndicracy than the one the corporation operating the effort belongs to. These scandals tend to be fairly minor, and result in a shutdown of that particular effort but little else. Covertly plundering China is something that Vostoka in particular is suspected of constantly doing, but it is often very difficult to prove unless materials show very specific radiological markers.
The Black Market
Black markets are everywhere in the world. Operating on a wide variety of cash, barter, trade, favors, and other systems of exchange, they are difficult to trace and basically impossible to stop. The black market on Chinese relics is especially frustrating for authorities in the syndicracies surrounding the Zone, because they have significant Chinese populations who long for parts of their homeland lost to them.
The Zone also makes a convenient place to move large quantities of illegal goods, especially if they’re moving from Vostoka to the Chaebol or vice versa. Banditry in the Zone is minimal, authorities to monitor such movements even more rare, and the borders large enough to break into smaller groups to move goods across.
Ulan Bator is a hive of illegal trade, even though it is supposed to be Vostoka’s administrative hub specifically to prevent access to the Zone. Notoriously corrupt, it is said if there’s something illegal in the world that you want, you can find it in Ulan Bator, or pay someone to bring it there.
The Zone isn’t supposed to be inhabited. The entire concept of it being a Zone of Alienation is to keep people out of it. Permanent settlements are forbidden, but that doesn’t stop illegal inhabitants from trying to live in the area. Most of these are Chinese refugees and their descendants trying to reclaim their homeland, and others are criminals and other stateless people fleeing whatever syndicracy they originally came from.
Even fifty years after C-Day, many parts of the region are still highly radioactive, especially around the major cities. Because of this, most settlements are still on the outliers of the former cities, surviving off of black market trade and brief forays into the irradiated urban centers for what meager supplies still remain decades later.
People of the Zone tend to be a hardy and insular lot, with many of them genetically modified former citizens of the Chaebol or heavily augmented individuals from Vostoka. They largely wish to be left alone, and banditry is minimal provided one stays away from what territories these small communities have claimed for themselves.
The wastelanders sometimes run afoul of scavengers and relic hunters who venture into the Zone, as well as illegal operations from foreign corporations. Because of this, they’ve learned to defend themselves, violently if they must. This has given them a reputation as dangerous radioactive mutant bandits, at least in Vostoka, although anyone with free Mesh access and an inquisitive mind can find that they’re mostly just stateless people trying to survive in literally the harshest place on Earth.