Saturday, February 2, 2013

So here is the last bit about The Last Emperor:

Two days before she died, Empress Dowager Cixi ordered that Puyi be brought to her. Puyi was the nephew of the Guangxu Emperor, born to the emperor's younger half-brother ("the third Prince Chun"). His father, the "third prince Chun", was an easily upset, weak-willed, emotional, indecisive man. But he was one of the few Chinese royals who had actually been outside the country and met a foreign ruler. (He had traveled via ship to Germany to apologize to Kaiser Wilhelm II for the murder of the German ambassador during the Boxer Rebellion.) Puyi's mother was Youlan, the daughter of General Ronglu (who had betrayed the Boxers). Cixi married Youlan into the royal family as a reward for Ronglu's continued loyalty. As was common among Chinese nobility, Puyi's mother did not nurse her own child. Instead, a wet nurse, Wen-Chao Wang, was hired to feed the boy breastmilk. She came from a merchant family which had fallen on hard times, and had a two-year-old child herself. (She never saw her child again. She would learn of her daughter's death at a young age only decades later.) Puyi screamed and cried when his father attempted to take him away to the palace. The wet nurse was sent with him to keep him quiet. Puyi did not see his mother for seven years, even though she lived just minutes away outside the Forbidden City.

The Guangxu Emperor died on November 14, 1908. Dowager Empress Cixi died the following day. Forensics tests in 2008 showed that the Guangxu Emperor died of massive arsenic poisoning. Many historians believe that Cixi, knowing her death was near, killed her own son so that he could not resume leadership over China.

Puyi was two years old. His pre-enthronement ceremony occurred on December 2, 1908, and lasted most of the day. "The third Prince Chun" was appointed regent over his son. At first, he attempted to rule alone. Puyi's coronation was held in 1909. Puyi nursed until he was eight years old. Although it was uncommon but not rare for a child to nurse until he was three or four, Puyi's breastfeeding was considered abnormal. But Wen-Chao Wang was the only person who could control the willful and temperamental child, so her presence (and the breastfeeding) were tolerated. Since the eunuchs were forbidden to correct or discipline him, his wet nurse would gently make suggestions that he consider another person's feelings or consider the outcome of his cruelty. (Once, he tried to make a eunuch bit into a cake filled with iron pellets. She told Puyi that this would break the man's teeth. Puyi persisted. So she advised that he use hard beans instead -- which would be just as funny, but not ruin the man's teeth. Puyi agreed.) Finally, Wen-Chao Wang was sent away in 1914 as part of a general purge of servants by the dowagers. However, she and Puyi remained in touch, even occasionally seeing one another after he married. They remained friends until the end of her life.

According to Chinese tradition, the emperor was the only person capable of communicating with heaven. Treated as a demi-god, he could not be addressed by his given name (Puyi) or by his regal name (Xuantong Emperor, or "Sublime At-Oneness"), only as "Your Holy Highness" or similar titles. Anyone coming into his presence had to kneel and press their forehead against the floor nine times to acknowledge his holiness. Upper-level officials could avert their eyes and kowtow (bend at the waist until the torso was horizontal) when he passed by, but others had to kneel and physically turn away. A Buddhist priest preceeded him everywhere, bleating like a sheep to make people aware of emperor's presence.

Each day was filled with ritual. The boy would rise at 4:00 A.M., be dressed, and have a light breakfast of preserved vegetables, eggs, and congee (rice porridge). He would then walk through the Forbidden City to the Palace of Tranquil Longevity to present himself to the dowagers, who make formal, ritualized greetings to him in return. (Other than this, he saw them only once or twice a week, and then for only brief periods of time.) After playing, he would have a series of lessons: reading, writing, calligraphy, poetry. (His education began when he was five years old, and lasted only from 7 to 9 A.M. When he was 8, three other students were provided to study with him as classmates and his study hours were 8 to 11 A.M. When he was 13, English lessons were added, and the hours of 1 to 2 P.M. added to his study hours.) If he went anywhere within the Forbidden City, a huge retinue of eunuchs would follow him, carrying a chair (should he wish to sit), umbrellas (for rain, snow, and sun), changes of clothes, food (up to 25 dishes), tea (including cases of cakes and pastries, various kinds of tea, and a tea service), boxes of medications and potions, and a sedan chair. The afternoons were full of Buddhist religious sacrifices at various places in the palace, more lessons, more playtime.

Food was served whenever he wanted it. Food was always eaten in the Hall of Mental Cultivation. Seven dining tables would be set up (two or three for main dishes, plus tables for soup, rice, preserves, pastries), and special silver dining dishes used (because it was believed silver would turn black in the presence of poison). As a child, Puyi had about 25 dishes each time, but as an adult there would be more than 100. The food was produced a day ahead of time, and kept warm in the imperial ovens so it could be produced at any time. And all this food was just for show! This ceremonial food would be brought out again and again until rotting, for nothing the emperor was presented with was to be wasted. The emperor's real meals were made in the kitchens of the dowager empress or consort, and consisted of about 25 dishes for each meal, prepared each day. There were also extremely high-cost special dishes made each day in honor of festivals or anniversaries. Most of these dishes were never eaten, either. Due to the way eunchs and tutors manipulated him, his average meal consisted of rice and meat, with vegetables. He wore a different set of clothes every day, and hundreds of seamstresses were kept busy making him garments of silk. He could not be disciplined, could not be struck, and could not be told he was wrong.

As soon as dark fell, the Forbidden City became ghostly quiet. All women were required to leave the grounds (except for the dowagers, empress, and consort). All activity ended, and everyone went to bed. As night fell, the eunuchs would begin softly calling out to one another: "Push home the bolts! Lock the doors! Watch the fires and candles!" These chants were intended to keep the eunuchs awake and alert at night, but made the Forbidden City eerie.

 More behind here...

Puyi was a brat. He played cruel practical jokes on people, and often threw rocks at his attendants. Once he learned that the eunuchs in the Forbidden City had to do whatever he commanded, he often ordered them to eat dirt, drink ink, or perform other humiliating tasks. He often had his attendants whipped for the slightest infraction. When the Forbidden City was wired for telephones, he made prank calls to local restaurants -- ordering huge amounts of food to be delivered to empty lots, or harassing families on the phone with obscenities.

Since Puyi was a minor, the warlordism which affected China soon deprived him of almost all his military forces. In desperation, in April 1911 Prince Chun formed an actual government. This cabinet was ruled by himself as premier, and contained two vice-premiers. But since the cabinet members were all part of the royal family or members of the Aisin Gioro clan, it brought little calm to the city.

On October 10, 1911, the republican forces of Sun Yat-sen seized power in Beijing. Sun Yat-sen established the new capital of the Republic of China in Nanjing. This coup d'etat highly destabilized China, and many provinces announced that they were now independent nation-states. Prince Chun begged a local warlord, Yuan Shikai, to restore Puyi to power. Shikai was named prime minister and created his own cabinet. He then asked the Empress Dowager Longyu (the dead emperor's wife) to remove Prince Chun as regent. She agreed.

Yuan Shikai refused to do more than take over Beijing. Boht he and Sun Yat-sen wanted constitutional reform that would lead to economic improvements. Yuan entered into negotiations with Sun Yat-sen, and they agreed that a republic (not a constitutional monarchy) was needed. In exchange for this agreement, Shikai was named President of the Republic of China.

Dowager Empress Longyu, acting as regent for Puyi, announced the boy-emperor's abdication on February 12, 1912. To avoid any rebellion by monarchists, Sun Yat-sen and Yuan Shikai agreed that the dowager empresses, dowager consorts, and Puyi could continue to occupy the Forbidden City -- but they were largely forbidden to leave it. (It is untrue that they were prisoners within it. They often took drives around the city, and went into the countryside for picnics and sightseeing.) The royal family was restricted to the north half of the Forbidden City, but could occupy the Summer Palace (a collection of buildings in central Beijing located on top of and below Longevity Hill; a man-made lake, Kunming Lake, is adjacent to it and part of its grounds). An annual allowance of 4 million taels was given to support the royal family. In 1917, warlord Zhang Xun overthrew the republican government in Beijing. Puyi was restored to the throne on July 1. But 11 days later, the warlord Duan Qirui overthrew Zhang Xun and removed Puyi from the throne again.

In 1919, Scottish diplomat Reginald Johnston was appointed Puyi's tutor. Although Puyi showed little interest in geography, history, politics, or current affairs, he had a burning desire to know more about the outside world (since he was largely unable to visit it). Johnston was the first foreigner allowed inside the Forbidden City, and the first to be allowed in the Inner Court. He convinced Puyi to cut off his queue in 1920, and most of the eunuchs followed suit.

Puyi attempted to flee the Forbidden City in February 1922. Using his telephone, he conspired with his younger brother, Pujie, to have a large number of expensive households goods moved to the city of Tianjin under the pretense that Puyi had given them to Pujie. This was a ruse: The goal was to loot the imperial storehouses, sell the goods, and provide Puyi with an income once he fled the country. Puyi asked Johnston to rent a house for him in Beijing's foreign sector -- where warlords and republican troops would be unable to get to him. Puyi even asked the Dutch ambassdor to help him, and the ambassador agreed. Somehow, Puyi's servants discovered the scheme. The city's exits were sealed, Pujie was not permitted to enter the city, and the Dutch refused to create an international incident by kidnapping the emperor from his own palace. Later, Johnston discovered that Puyi had been helped by a Manchurian warlord, Zhang Zoulin. Zhang's goal had been to get Puyi to Manchuria, would Puyi would be re-crowned as emperor of the Manchus. This would have destablized all of China, and put Puyi in a very dangerous position.

Sometime before April 1921, Dowager Consort Jin (concubine of the Guangxu Emperor), Dowager Consort Jingyi (concubine of the Tongzhi Emperor), Dowager Consort Ronghui (concubine of the Tongzhi Emperor), and Dowager Consort Zhuanghe (concubine of the Guangxu Emperor) decided Puyi should marry. (We know it was early 1921 because Zhuanghe died in April.)

During the summer of 1921, Reginald Johnston began to suspect that Puyi was near-sighted. He asked that an optometrist examine Puyi. This caused a huge uproar, until Puyi himself ordered the exam. The emperor was discovered to be extremely near-sighted, and received two pairs of glasses: One of seeing, and one for reading.

In September 1921, Puyi's mother, Lady Youlan, was called to the Forbidden City. Puyi was 13, and a eunuch had brought him a Republic of China uniform, sword, and plumed hat to play with. It also came with socks made in Europe. Dowager Consort Jin flew into a rage, and had the eunuch beaten with a cane 200 times. Shortly thereafter, Jin fired a physician in the imperial household. Puyi publicly berated her for assuming too much power (as she was only a dowager consort, not a dowager empress). In retaliation, Jin ordered Lady Youlan to the palace and publicly insulted her for having given birth to such an unruly, discourteous, and cruel child. It was the last straw: Youlan swallowed a ball of raw opium and committed suicide. She'd been woefully unhappy, having essentially lost her first-born son to the court. Her husband ignored her grief and depression, and took a concubine who gave him multiple children. The public humiliation by the oldest, most honored dowager consort was brutal and more than she could take. (Puyi later blamed himself for "forcing" her to die, but it seems unlikely he had any role in her unhappiness.) It took her two days to die. Puyi left the Forbidden City for the first time in his life to travel the few minutes to his father's house, the Northern Mansion. He was dignified at her deathbed, told her that he loved her, and comforted her.

In-fighting among various courtiers delayed the marriage by two years. Puyi chose his wife from four photographs. He randomly picked Wenxiu, a 12-year-old girl from an impoverished noble family. Horrified, the dowagers asked Puyi to choose Lady Gobulo, daughter of the former Qing government's minister of domestic affairs. He agreed, and suggested that he marry Wenxiu as a consort (a tradition among Manchu royals). The dowagers agreed. The consort's trousseau arrived in the Forbidden City between 9 and 11 A.M. on November 29. The following day, the emperor and empress exchanged seals from 9 to 11 A.M., and the empress' trousseau arrived between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M. Between 1 and 3 A.M. on December 1, the consort and her retinue of porters, heralds, musicians, attendants, and soldiers arrived. The empress, with a procession triple in size, arrived between 3 and 5 A.M. The nuptial ceremony was on December 2 from early morning until noon, followed by worship of the emperor's ancestors that afternoon. On December 3, the emperor, empress, and consort received Manchu and Mongol princes, officers of the court and household, and former ministers of the government. Chinese opera performances occurred on December 2, 3, and 5. The night after the marriage, Puyi slept in the Palace of Heavenly Purity, while Wanrong slept in the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. For weeks, they did not spend the night together. Some suggest that Puyi was homosexual (!), but most think that he simply had no idea what to do with her. He'd been raised by eunuchs, and spent almost all his waking hours since puberty with them. It is not clear that Puyi ever consummated either marriage, and his wife and consort barely figured in his daily life.

Puyi acquired a car shortly after his marriage, but rarely used it to leave the Forbidden City. Wanrong's tutor, Isabel Ingram, was also brought into the Forbidden City (becoming the second foreigner permitted there). Together, Johnston and Ingram attempted to bring Puyi and Wanrong closer together. The couple did spend more time together, and Johnston was able to get their two entourages to mingle. But the conservation Household Department kept them apart (as tradition required), and they never were close.

Despondent over his failed escape attempt, Puyi became vicious and disracted. Johnston diverted his attention by asking him to take control of his own household (now that he had come of age and was married). Puyi agreed: In June 1923, he ordered an inventory of all the imperial storehouses in the Forbidden City. All previous Chinese dynasties had poured gold, silver, and tens of thousands of art treasures into the city. Many works of jade and precious metal had not even seen the light of day in centuries. There were so many works of art, and so few of them were actually displayed, that theft had become common. Additionally, many works of art had been sold off to pay imperial debts, but no one know what had been sold. Puyi's inventory command led to a massive increase in theft, as numerous palaces, lodges, and houses in the Forbidden City were broken into and looted at night. Puyi announced he would enter the Palace of Established Happiness (the most important imperial treasurehouse) and take inventory himself. On June 27, 1923, the palace burned to the ground. The fire was arson, set by eunuchs trying to cover their crimes. More than $10 million (nearly $5 billion today) in art were lost. These included several solid gold Buddhas; 3,000 Buddhas made of stone, jade, silver, and gold-plate; hundreds of porcelain vases; 1,000 paintings (some going back 1400 years); more than 6,000 ancient and historic books, scrolls, and texts; 2,000 solid gold altar ornaments; hundreds of bronze statues and altar items; and a large number of silk imperial ceremonial robes encrusted with jewels. The contractor hired to haul away the ashes retrieved 17,000 ounces of gold from the debris. At least another 17,000 ounces were retrieved by eunuchs from the ashes.

A few days later, someone attempted to burn the Hall of Mental Cultivation. This fire was discovered before it could do more damage, but a kerosene-soaked cloth was discovered to be the cause of the blaze. Arson.

On July 15, Puyi ordered the expulsion of all eunuchs from the Forbidden City. They had one hour to leave (to minimize their opportunity to do more damage). Over the next few weeks, the 1,100 eunuchs were allowed back into the Forbidden City in twos and threes to collect their personal goods. Only 50 eunuchs, most of them serving the dowager empress and consorts, were permitted to remain. Johnston built a tennis court on the site of the Palace of Established Happiness, and bought bicycles for Puyi and Wanrong to ride.

Puyi and Johnston continued to scheme to reorganized the Household Department, whose massive inefficiency and corruption were draining the imperial treasury dry. To do this, Johnston convinced Puyi to hire a Chinese (not a Manchu) to begin a reorganization of the department. Second, Puyi announced that he would visit the Summer Palace. The Household Department warned him that the palace was in extensive disrepair, but when Puyi arrived there in late July 1924 he found it in excellent shape. (It was the first time Puyi had been outside Beijing.) Johnston himself moved into the Summer Palace in August. He began collecting rent from the tenant farmers, bid out repairs (to the lowest bidder!), rented out the place for hunting parties, and allowed fisherman to take fish from its lake. He also opened the grounds twice a week to paying tourists. (With so many tourists coming to see it, Johnston asked for -- and got -- a part of the massive profits being made by soda shops, tea houses, and other retail businesses neaerby.) Within months, the Summer Palace was not only paying for itself, it had generated so much income that it had wiped out the imperial household's debts.

It was not to last. A local warlord, Wu Peifu, was attempting to knock Zhang Zuolin out of power in Manchuria. He sent one of his generals, Feng Yuxiang, to guard the Manchurian border. Feng didn't do it: Instead, on October 22, 1924, he seized Beijing and overthrew the government. In the early morning of November 5, Feng's troops ordered Puyi and his family out of the Forbidden City. He had three hours to pack. He was visited only by his father, Prince Chun (who was useless and indecisive in a crisis), and by two female tutors of Wanrong's. The phone lines were cut, and he could not contact Reginald Johnston to ask for advice. Puyi fled to his father's house, and remained there for three weeks. (Johnston was allowed to visit him once, the day after Puyi arrived.) Zhang Zuolin, however, desperately wanted to see Puyi kept safe, so he could be re-installed as emperor of the Manchus. On November 23, Zhang and his army entered Beijing and overthrew Feng. Zhang removed the restrictiions on Puyi's travel within the city, claiming he had the former emperor's best interests at heart. On November 27, Johnston and Puyi fled into the foreign sector and sought refuge. Sadly, every European embassy turned them down. Only the Japanese embassy gave him refuge...

In Feburary 1925, with Japanese assistance, Puyi calmly walked out of the foreign sector unnoticed, and boarded a train for the coastal city of Tianjin. Although he owned a home in the British concession there, Puyi took up residence in a house owned by the Japanese. Horrifed by the Japanese involvement, Johnston resigned his posts. Although he met with Puyi several times over the next few years, he never rejoined the imperial household. Puyi and his advisers tried to figure out ways to restore him to the throne. He was outraged in 1928 when he learned that Republican troops had looted the tombs of the Qianlong Emperor and Dowager Empress Cixi. Puyi contacted the Japanese Minister of War, Jiro Minami, in September 1931 and asked if Japan would help. Minami sent Kenji Doihara, director of espionage for the Kwantung Army (a Japanese army which had just invaded and conquered Manchuria weeks before) to talk to Puyi. Together, they agreed that Puyi should become emperor of Manchuria. In November 1931, Puyi and Zheng Xiaoxu traveled to Manchuria to complete plans for the puppet state of Manchukuo.

Puyi traveled to Manchuria in November 1931, and on March 1, 1932, was named head of state of Manchukuo, the puppet-state the Japanese had set up there. He was officially crowned in 1934.

Wenxiu divorced Puyi in 1931. Puyi tended to prefer Wenxiu for her beauty, and her relationship with Wanrong was icy. While Puyi lived in Tianjin, Wanrong and Wenxiu remained obsessed with luxury -- as if they were still empresses. Over time, Wenxius became less obssessed with status. She also loathed the Japanese, and the move to Manchukuo in 1931 left her deeply unhappy. She was also increasingly unhappy with Puyi's inability to give her children, and Puyi's attitude toward women as slaves. She filed for and was granted a divorce. Despite intense pressure from monarchists to stop her, Wenxiu persisted in her desire for a divorce. Puyi stripped Wenxiu of her imperial titles, but agreed to give her one of his houses in Beijing. The Japanese gave her $300,000 in alimony money. She returned to China, became a school teacher, and married Liu Zhendong (a major in the Red Army) in 1947. She died in 1953 at the age of 43.

Behind the scenes, Puyi was constantly harassing the Japanese to invade China and return him to the Chinese throne. He lived in the Imperial Palace of the Manchu State, but refused to wear the Manchukuo uniforms the Japanese made. The Japanese refused to let him wear the ceremonial robes of a Manchu, so he wore a Western military uniform to his coronation. When Puyi's younger brother, Pujie, married a Japanese noblewoman, Puyi became distant and cold toward them both.

Kwantung Army Colonel Yoshioka Yasunori was appointed Attaché to the Imperial Household in Manchukuo in 1935. His primary role was spy, but he also helped control Puyi by threatening him and, at times, ordering him about. Puyi put up with it because of the numerous attempts on his life during this time. (He was actually stabbed by a servant in 1937.) To keep him intimidated and awed, the Japanese had him visit Japan several times, but always in a subservient role to Emperor Hirohito. The Japanese slowly replaced his Manchu advisors with Japanese ones, and limited his role to ceremonial events (such as signing laws, reciting prayers, consulting oracles, and making visits to cities and towns).

Empress Wanrong led an empty life of in Manchukuo. She had few hobbies or interests, few friends, and no duties. Puyi blamed her for Wenxiu's estrangement, and it wasn't long before Wanrong's long-time aide, Cui Fu, left to return to China. Wanrong and Puyi continued to live in separate rooms at the palace, and over time Wanrong stopped coming out of her rooms. She only shared an occasional meal with her husband. Most Chinese women used a tiny amount of opium in their cigarettes as a mild relaxant. But Wanrong was a heavy smoker, and soon incurred an opium addiction.

She also began sexual affairs with two of Puyi's aides, Qi Jizhong and Li Tiyu. She gave birth to a baby daughter by Tiyu in 1935. Wanrong begged for the life of her child, and Puyi told her it had been sent to live with another family. Wanrong paid for the child's living expenses for more than a year before discovering that the child had been killed and cremated. She had a nervous breakdown, and Puyi stripped her of her imperial titles. (He restored them under pressure by the Japanese and Qing advisors.) Wanrong became an opium addict and mentally unbalanced. She began wandering about, mumbling to herself, could not clean or dress herself, and had uncontrollable fits of laughter and weeping. By July 1938, she was taking about two ounces of opium a day, a huge quantity.

Puyi married Tan Yuling on April 6, 1937. The 16-year-old girl was a member of the Tatara clan. Puyi wanted a second wife to make Wanron jealous, and because it was considered proper for a Manchu nobleman. A lord of the Tatara clan suggested Tan, and Puyia accepted her. They never consummated the marriage, and Puyi treated her as he had Wanrong. She fell ill with typhoid in 1942, then died suddenly. Although there is little evidence for it, the Japanese may have murdered her. Puyi certainly thought so: The very day of her death, the Japanese produced a massive floral wreath. Days after her death, the Japanese were pushing Japanese brides on him.

Puyi married Li Yuqin in 1943. She was a 15-year-old commoner and Han Chinese Changchun. She had gone to have her picture taken along with other schoolchildren in February 1943. The Kwantung Army had taken photographs of young girls from all sorts of photography studios, and showed them to Puyi. He chose Li Yuqin. In March, she questioned by Colonel Yoshioka, who secretly approved the marriage. Yoshioka promised to give her parents money, and Li was sent to the palace for intense study in court rules and protocol. It's not clear that Puyi consummated the marriage with her.

As World War II came to an end, Puyi was deeply concerned about his future. If the Red Army captured him, he was convinced he would be shot for treason. Capture by the Soviets (who were invading Manchuria) was likely to be no better, and any warlord could seize him if they tried. Puyi decided to abandon his wives, ostensibly because his entourage was likely to be arrested and the women would be safer in army custody than if they were on the run. Puyi fled to Shenyang to take a plane to Japan. On August 16, 1945, the Soviets landed at the airport while Puyi waited for his plane to arrive. He was arrested, and sent to live in a luxurious spa near the Siberian town of Chita. He was later taken to Khabarovsk, and allowed to live in a small home there. The Soviets had him testify at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo in August 1946. He told the court about Japanese rule in Manchkuo, and how they manipulated him and his government.

Wanrong and Li attempted to flee via train. Wanrong, an opium addict, was going through withdrawal. They made it to Mukden, and then Talitzou, but were arrested by the Soviets. They were imprisoned in a local jail in Changchun, then moved to a local jail and finally a prison in Jilin. When Li was permitted to see Wanrong in prison, she discovered the empress covered in her own filth, her food uneaten and rotting, and having hallucinations. Li looked after her for a while, but Wanrong often refused to eat. Wanrong died in prison on June 20, 1946, from the effects of opium withdrawal and malnutrition. Li was released in 1946 and returned to her parents' home in Beijing. She found work in a textile factory.

When Mao Zedong seized power in China in 1949, Puyi was returned to China. He was imprisoned in the Fushun War Criminals Management Centre for 10 years. During the Korean War, he was briefly moved to a prison in Harbin. Li began visiting Puyi in prison in 1955. I 1956, she asked him for a divorce. Prison authorities responded by demanding that she spend the night in bed with Puyi. She did, and they had sexual relations (apparently while observed by prison guards). The couple briefly reconciled, but divorced in May 1957. Li married an electronics technician and had two boys. She died of liver disease in 2001.

Mao gave Puyi persmission to move to Beijing after his release in December 1959, where he lived in a small house with his sister. He later moved into an apartment. He found work as a gardener at the Peking Botanical Gardens. In 1961, he met Li Shuxian, a 39-year-old hospital nurse. After dating for six months, they married on April 30, 1962. Two years later, he was elected to the fourth National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He was appointed by the CPPCC to its Cultural and Historical Data Research Committee. Puyi now began work on his autobiography. Titled The First Half of My Life, it was published in 1964. It was dictated to Li Wenda, an editor and co-worker of Puyi's. It contained, in part, a confession about Puyi's active collaboration with the Japanese from 1925 to 1945. When the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, the Red Guards began harassing Puyi. The police put him under protective arrest, and his food and income reduced. But the protection worked, and he was not publicly humiliated as so many others were.

Puyi's health began to decline in 1966 during his incarceration. He died of kidney cancer and heart disease on October 17, 1967 at the age of 61. His body was cremated and his ashes interred in the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery alongside those of other party dignitaries and government officials. In 1995, Li Shuxian paid to have his ashes transferred to a cemetery at the Western Qing Tombs -- where four of the nine Qing emperors, three empresses, and 69 princes, princesses, and imperial concubines are interred. Li Shuxian died of lung in 1997, her income provided by sales of Puyi's autobiography and a small state pension.

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After his death, Puyi's uncle, the former Prince Zaitao, was able to purchase the Northern Mansion from the communist government and refurnish it as a home for the extended Aisin Gioro family. He, too, was elected to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and then to the National People's Congress.

Puyi's younger brother, Pujie, was elected a member of the National People's Congress in 1978. He was a deputy of the Liaoning Politburo's Standing Committee, and vice chairman of the Nationalities Committee of the National People's Congress in 1983. He was elected to the Presidium of the National People's Congress in 1988. He died in 1994.

1 comment:

  1. Great article... keep-up the good work...... May I share an interview with Pu Yi (imaginary), the Last Emperor of China in stenote blogspot in Sep 2018 folder
    Read also the article in "stenote blogspot" in Sep 2018 Folder.