May 16th, 2059 is a day now known as C-Day. It is considered one of the greatest tragedies of the modern age.
One of the worst aspects of C-Day is to this day is that no one party truly accepts responsibility for it happening. The official chain of events, according to historians in the Subcontinent and Vostoka, is that China had finally decided to acquiesce to global demands to relax its restrictive, statist policies towards corporations, but that Chinese ultra-nationalists within the military refused to accept that from their own government. These ultra-nationalists took control of China’s nuclear arsenal, and attempted to launch nuclear strikes on Russia, India, and the United States.
Those countries possessed nuclear arsenals of their own, but due to the events of the Scramble the control of those arsenals were in the hands of various parties and corporate interests. When the threat of China’s impending nuclear attack was detected, the decision among those individuals in control was unanimous; they had to strike first, and strike harder.
However, in the post-Scramble period known as the Regeneration, very few people involved in the decision to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on China were ever held accountable for that decision, or their authority to make that decision even questioned. In fact, some of the individuals involved in those decisions were never even located or identified. A mass diffusion of responsibility means that officially, while C-Day is widely regarded as a mistake and a global tragedy, nobody really accepts blame for any of it.
But on May 16th, millions died in seconds. The surviving population, which numbered in the billions, fled their now irradiated country in a mass diaspora. To this day, the majority of China is still isolated in a zone of exclusion that no-one may officially enter. It has become a dangerous nest of criminals, treasure hunters, nomads, and renegades who are willing to endure the brutal weather and risk of radiation.
As a result of C-Day, all around the world there has been a mass nuclear disarmament, and the very idea of nuclear weapons is publicly abhorrent. It has also led to the various Chinese languages (mostly forms of Mandarin) being second languages for a large portion of the world, and Chinatowns being a fixture in almost every city on Earth.