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China’s western frontier is a powder keg. Its Buddhist and Muslim subjects are about to light the fuse.

Michael Brannigan and the People’s Republic of China are concluding a triumphant week. The PRC’s top energy consultant has fallen in love with Australian geophysicist Kylie Ryan while traveling in Xinjiang Province. President Lao Ming is in Beijing hosting a game-changing summit with the United States. CNN is broadcasting the new reality: the Communist juggernaut has surpassed the US.

Brannigan’s train is retracing Marco Polo’s historic journey. When the Silk Road Express reaches the Far East’s Far West, his team of engineers will assist the Chinese in developing the world’s richest oil fields. As Brannigan heads deeper into the Taklamakan Desert, President Lao’s motorcade is approaching the end of its parade route. In a few hours, he will celebrate his victory at the Hall of Purple Light.

All that changes in two blinks of an eye. China’s Young Turks and Fighting Monks
rock the country. Caught up in the violence, Brannigan’s love affair meets a tragic end. The Reds and rebels engage in an escalating cycle of provocations and reprisals. In the midst of the turmoil, Brannigan returns to China for a hush-hush assignment at Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric facility. There he overcomes his demons and finds lasting happiness. Everything is coming up aces.

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Until the unthinkable happens

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