A Brief History
On August 16, 1945, the last Emperor in China, Puyi of Manchuria, was captured by the Soviet Army. Puyi, also known as Henry Puyi, was the last Qing Emperor of China from 1908 to 1912, deposed while still a child (born 1906) by the Xinhai Revolution of 1912. The former Xuantong Emperor lived quietly until the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (Manchukuo) in 1932.
The Japanese made Puyi their puppet ruler of Manchukuo, and in 1934 declared him Emperor Datong, the Kangde Emperor of Manchukuo. This regime lasted only until the end of Japanese occupation in August of 1945 and the invasion of the Soviet Army, who promptly arrested him and placed him in a Siberian sanitarium until turning him over to the Communist Chinese who took control of all of China in 1949.
The communists kept Puyi imprisoned for 10 years, and was released in 1959 when he was declared “rehabilitated.” Puyi endorsed communist rule of China and died of kidney cancer in 1967, only 61 years old, the Last Chinese Emperor.
An epic biographical film about his life titled The Last Emperor (1987) won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, in the United States of America. Nevertheless, in Japan, the Shochiku Fuji Company edited out a thirty-second sequence from the film depicting the Rape of Nanjing before distributing it to Japanese theaters and without the film’s writer and director’s consent.
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For more information, please see…
Bertolucci, Bernardo, dir. The Last Emperor (The Criterion Collection). Criterion, 2009. Blu-ray.
Kramer, Paul and Henry Pu Yi. Last Manchu: The Autobiography of Henry Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China. Skyhorse Publishing, 2010.
Qingxiang, Li Shuxian Wang. My Husband Puyi: The Last Emperor of China. Trans. Ni Na. China Tourism Press, 2008.