Puyi: The last emperor of China
On 16 August 1945, the emperor of Manchukuo, Aisin Gioro Puyi, was with his family at the airport in Shenyang, about to escape to Japan on board a Japanese military aircraft, when he was detained by the Soviet Red Army and sent to be incarcerated in the Soviet Union as a WWII Allied prisoner of war.To get more news about empress wanrong, you can visit shine news official website.
After thousands of years of the imperial system, Puyi was the very last emperor of China. His difficult life was a symbol of China’s fate and the enormous changes happening in the world.
In August 1945, after Japan surrendered, Emperor Puyi of Manchukuo was detained by the Soviet Red Army while preparing to board a plane to escape to Japan, and sent to the Soviet Union.
The Qing dynasty was the last of China’s dynasties. It was established by the minority Manchurians, a nomadic group from northeast China, and was one of China’s most powerful dynasties. China’s current territory is generally inherited from the Qing dynasty.
The history of the Manchurians is closely intertwined with that of China. Its people became powerful in the early 12th century and defeated the Song dynasty, occupied northeast China and established the Jin dynasty, which they saw as a legitimate dynasty of China. They gradually assimilated the Han ethnic culture, but a century later were driven back to the northeast by the Mongol empire. Subsequently, the Mongols were defeated by the Han-led Ming dynasty; 200 years later, the Ming dynasty grew weak and the Manchurians rose again, with outstanding political and military leaders, to establish the state of Qing. In 1644, the Qing army invaded China and occupied the whole of it within 40 years, including Taiwan.
In 1792, Britain’s King George III sent George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney as a special envoy leading a large delegation to China. He declined to kowtow when meeting the Emperor Qianlong according to the rules of the Chinese imperial court, sparking diplomatic friction. With rich text records and hand-drawn images by the British delegation on their return, Britain and the Western world had a deep impression of China and the Emperor Qianlong, who came to symbolise the power and authority of the Chinese emperors.
An etching of the British delegation meeting Emperor Qianlong by British artist William Alexander. On 8 September 1793, the delegation finally reached Rehe, and met the emperor on 14 September. On the right is Macartney, while Qianlong is seated in the raised sedan. This scene is drawn from imagination; in fact, Qianlong was in a tent in the middle, where the British delegation entered for an audience.
An image by British artist William Alexander showing the British delegation finally reaching the borders of China, where they see a Chinese military outpost. The soldiers are mostly armed with bows and arrows and long swords, and the image also shows the Qing dynasty's elite force, the “tiger soldiers”, on the left.
An image by British artist William Alexander showing the Great Wall, on the way from Beijing to Rehe. The delegation was held spellbound by this grand man-made edifice, and Macartney wrote in his journal: “If the other parts of it be similar to those which I have seen, it is certainly the most stupendous work of human hands.” Alexander never saw the Great Wall, but drew this imposing section of the wall winding upwards through the mountains near Gubeikou based on his companions’ descriptions, as if he saw it for himself.
A picture by British artist William Alexander showing senior Chinese officials heading out on a colourful dedicated vessel with luxurious fittings. The flag on the vessel shows the rank of the officials, and civilian vessels would generally make way for official vessels.
On the other hand, the Qing royal family were people from the grasslands, good travellers and strong fighters. Under the first three emperors, Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet became part of China, making it a huge, multi-ethnic empire. The Manchurians saw themselves as the legitimate successors of the Chinese dynasty. They forced the Hans to adopt Manchurian hairstyles and dressing, while they themselves switched to Han writing and language and customs, as well as institutions and systems. Nevertheless, the Manchurians were a minority group, having long-term conflicts with the majority Han population. Han resistance groups in southern China often put out calls to “oppose the Qing dynasty and restore the Ming”.
In the mid- to late 19th century, under bombardment from the guns and cannons on modern vessels owned by the rising Western maritime powers, the Chinese empire seemed as old and frail as many ancient empires. It was forced to keep ceding territory and pay reparations and was on the brink of crumbling, and was painfully humiliated. The Chinese Revolutionary Party led by Sun Yat-sen took the slogan “Expel the Tatars” — a call to drive out the Manchurians and restore Han rule. Many Manchurian officials became targets of attack and assassination, striking fear among them for a time.