Who is the King of China
50 years ago Last emperor of China died
"My name is Aisin Gioro Pu Yi. In 1909 I was Emperor of China."
Pu Yi came from the Manchurian dynasty of the Aisin Gioro, who had ruled the dragon throne since the middle of the 17th century. He was crowned emperor three times. The first time, Pu Yi was a toddler. At the age of two he was brought to Beijing in the Forbidden City in 1908 as heir to the throne, on the orders of the Emperor's widow Cixi, as Bernardo Bertolucci documents in his film "The Last Emperor":
"My little Pu Yi, I have decided, from now on you will be the master of the 10,000 years."
Appointing child emperors was customary in China, according to the sinologist Mechthild Leutner from the Free University of Berlin, when strong rulers wanted weak emperors:
"Because it was then clear that a reign would be necessary. In this case, the Empress-widow Cixi, who effectively ruled as Empress, selected the eldest son of Prince Chun shortly before the death of the Guanxu Emperor, who was still alive because she believed that she could possibly continue to act as regent herself. "
The Daily Mirror of October 14, 1911 (imago stock & people)
Most of the population impoverished and addicted to opium
But one day after Pu Yi's appointment, the Empress-widow died and Prince Chun took over the reign of his son. At the time, China was virtually ungovernable. It has been economically exploited by the colonial powers since the middle of the 19th century. Large parts of the population were impoverished and addicted to opium. There was not enough money for the necessary reforms and the anger of the population grew. In 1912 the Republic of China was proclaimed and six-year-old Pu Yi was forced to abdicate.
"He was left with the title. He lived on in the Forbidden City, he kept such a small court."
Behind the palace walls, his advisers and court officials forged intrigues to restore the empire. The First World War raged outside, and in 1917 the republic broke up over the dispute over whether China should join the war. A military coup brought eleven-year-old Pu Yi to the imperial throne a second time. But only for twelve days, then the Republican Army retook Beijing. Pu Yi was held in the Forbidden City for another seven years. His curiosity about the West grew through his Scottish tutor.
"But his training was very traditionally shaped, that he was not very well educated to say that he is someone who analyzes the political situation."
"Puppet Emperor" in Japan's war against China
Another military coup brought Pu Yi the long-awaited freedom at the end of 1924. He had to give up the imperial title and fled to the port city of Tianjin on Japanese territory. Seeing no chance of ever becoming Emperor of China again, Pu Yi collaborated with the Japanese and ascended the throne for the third time in 1934, this time as Emperor of Manchukuo, an artificial state in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. As a "puppet emperor" he supported Japan's war against China. In 1945, Pu Yi was arrested by Soviet troops trying to escape to Japan, locked in a camp and extradited to Mao five years later. While in Chinese custody, he wrote an extensive self-criticism.
"I volunteered with the Japanese. My crime has contributed to the death of millions of people."
Mechthild Leutner: "He has constructed himself as a new person who questions his previous life very critically and now wants to become a member of the new society."
Quote: "Any other country would have sentenced me to death. Instead, I was given the chance to work to build socialism. For the first time in my life I am really happy because I am doing something useful."
In 1959, Pu Yi was released after successful re-education and published his autobiography. On October 17, 1967, the last emperor of China died as a simple gardener in Beijing.
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