I came across an entry for “chung kuo” on Wikipedia:
> _Chung Kuo_ is a series of science fiction novels written by David Wingrove. The novels present a future history of an Earth dominated by China.
> _Chung Kuo_ is primarily set 200 years in the future in mile-high, continent-spanning cities made of a super-plastic called ‘ice’. Housing a global population of 40 billion, the cities are divided into 300 levels and success and prestige is measured by how far above the ground one lives. Some – in the Above – live in great comfort. Others – in the Lowers – live in squalor, whilst at the bottom of the pile is ‘Below the Net’, a place where the criminal element is exiled and left to rot. Beneath the cities lie the ruins of old Earth – the Clay – a lightless, stygian hell in which, astonishingly, humans still exist. These divisions are known as ‘the world of levels’.
Fascinating. The idea of buildings that rise up from some sort of post-apocalyptic landscape, and within which one quite literally moves up, is found in Robert Silverberg’s _The World Inside_ (1972). That an undergirding layer is criminal in nature is from Dick’s _Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?_ (1968). The layering on of a historical dimension, that the American century gives way to a Chinese one, is really interesting.
I am making a note to myself to try the first book in the series at some point in the near future.