Imperial descendant of The Last Emperor And his dream of Manchukuo
23 November, 2020
’To expel the northern barbarians and to revive Zhonghua (Chinese republic)’’ is a common Chinese propaganda phrase which Ollervides learned as a child from elementary history textbooks.
The last emperor, starred by John Lone, gained immense success at the end of the 80’s, the tumultuous life of the Great Qing’s (Manchu led dynasty) last emperor, Aisin Gioro Puyi, has been incisively interpreted by the movie. Puyi took the throne from Empress Dowager Cixi and became emperor at the age of 3, but was forced to abdicate after 3 years of ruling. Though living a glorious imperial life in the Forbidden City, he was never granted permission from the KMT, Chinese Nationalist Party, to step out of the royal court. Believing in the illusion of being the king of the realm, he was expelled from the Forbidden City at the age of 19, the place which held him under captivity for his whole life.
The expulsion would have allowed Puyi to live an untroubled life outside of the royal court. Nonetheless, in 1934, Puyi returned to northeast China, homeland of the Manchus, with determination to establish Manchukuo under the wing of Japanese government. He relied on them to reinstate the Qing dynasty but his ambition was never fulfilled. Puyi has since been regarded as a Military-controlled puppet monarch who fancied the restoration of the great empire in a perturbed era.fervently argued, ‘‘the history recorded Fake Manchukuo as a Japanese-controlled puppet state yet failed to mention ’’.
Isangga’s tomb is the ancestral tomb of Ollervides’ family, the photograph was taken during ancestor veneration. Vinness Ollervides (left) and his mother (right). 圖／伊啟威 提供
word ‘’northern barbarians*’’ in the textbooks literally refers to people like him. His mysterious background, the seventh direct descendant of Prince Yixian of the First Rank and the ninth direct descendant of respected Plain Yellow Banner grand secretary Isangga, was revealed to him when he went for ancestor veneration at the age of 11. To elaborate, when Ollervides filled in the elementary school admission application, he was already reminded of his difference, that he was the only person who filled ‘’Manchu’’ in the ethnic row, and others stated ‘’Han’’.is a common Chinese propaganda phrase which Ollervides learned as a child from elementary history textbooks. Ollervides gave a wry smile, and said not until he had grown up did he realize the
‘’After that, I’d frequently get friends who learned about my royal ancestry frivolously saying ‘’ The demise of the Qing dynasty was long ago!’’. I was indifferent to the joke as a kid because I thought we were all Chinese anyway. However, as I turned older, I understood the impact brought by this sentence on my identity.’’ said Ollervides in a seemingly joking manner but in serious words.
After young Ollervides moved with his family from Beijing to Qingdao, his Han classmates often distanced themselves from him because of his minority label and his outlandish accent. When the phrase ‘’ The demise of the Qing dynasty was long ago!’’ went viral as a slang and started trending on Chinese media, Ollervides drew even more ridicule. At the outset the mockery did not bother him, but after he attended his ancestor veneration at 11, it morphed into curiosity which prompted Ollervides to inquire from his grandfather about the complicated history of the Manchus.
Throughout Ollervides’ grandfather’s life time, he served 63 years in the CCP as a high-level party member who Chou En-lai, the first Premier of the PRC, bestowed with the title ‘’The Founder of Republic’’. Ollervides’ family had enjoyed privileges in Beijing on the account of his grandfather’s honorary title, therefore Ollervides never doubted his congruence with the CCP. Nevertheless, in 1933, two years after his grandfather’s birth in the Chengde Mountain Resort, the city of Chengde was annexed into Manchukuo. Raised in the state with Japanese education, his grandfather, as a matter of fact, had never thought of himself as a Chinese before the end of the Second World War. He pointed out Japanese treated the Manchu Royal Family with respect and the main culprit that exiled the Royal Family was KMT. Gangyi, the royal minister of Qing dynasty and Empress Dowager Cixi said during the establishment of the Eight-Nation Alliance ‘’We would rather give our state to neighboring friends, not to our household slaves.’’ ‘’Use all possessions of Zhonghua to please foreign powers at any cost.’’ explicitly represented the fact that Manchu did not define themselves as Chinese, and from their perspectives, Manchu was inherently superior to Chinese, which also explains the derogatory remark ‘’household slaves’’. Therefore, when Qing Dynasty faced its downfall, the dynasty would rather cling on the languishing power than concede it to the Chinese.
From Han Chinese standpoint, there was a necessity to subvert the corrupted Qing dynasty and the puppet state Manchukuo in order to pull whole China out of its perilous position. On the other hand, Manchu saw themselves having nothing to do with the Chinese Civil War. It was Chinese instead of Japanese that compelled Puyi to renounce his throne, hence seeking help from their ally (Japan) to restore the Qing dynasty was downright sensible. Moreover, striving to perpetuate their own separate identity, the Manchus maintained a policy of residential segregation between the Han Chinese and themselves. The adoption of Han Chinese culture by the Manchu Clan was simply utilized for the convenience of ruling. ‘’ argued by Chinese and Inner Asian history scholar, Evelyn Sakakida Rawski, the author of The last emperors: a social history of Qing imperial institutions.
After the surrender of Imperial Japan, Ollervides’ family fortune in Chengde Mountain Resort was entirely depredated. Ollervides’ grandfather had to pose as Chinese to join CCP for fear of being discriminated in relation to his Japanese-educated background. Since KMT was behind the eradication of Manchukuo, and CCP did not oppose the Qing dynasty head on, his grandfather figured joining the CCP wouldn’t be as bad. As a consequence, the royal identity of Ollervides’ grandfather and his affiliation with Japanese upbringing were exposed in the Cultural Revolution. He became a victim of the Struggle sessions, suffering from public humiliation and torture. He was banished to Qinghai, and couldn’t return to Beijing. Later he was exonerated and reinstated as ethnic minority cadre. Ollervides’ grandfather received good treatment from CCP after changing his identity to Chinese, nonetheless he was astounded by Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He reflected on the damage done to his kins by politics, and decided to move his family to Qingdao to free himself from public affairs and to prevent next generation of the family experiencing the chaotic identity shift stemming from the Qing dynasty, Manchu, Japan, CCP and Han Chinese.
‘’Knowing that my great grandfather, who was the Imperial Prince of Manchu, had a diplomatic marriage in Manchukuo with member of the Japanese imperial family, I often wonder whether I am more of a Manchu, Chinese or Japanese? ‘’ said Ollervides. He later mentioned his great grandmother had the Japanese royal bloodline of the house, Hokke, a cadet branch of the Fujiwara clan.
Pondering on the Struggle sessions which his grandfather had endured, Ollervides found it especially ridiculous to vilify Japanese-educated Manchus with the Chinese term ‘’Hanjian’’. As a term, ‘’Hanjian’’ is a digraph of the Chinese characters for “Han” and “traitor”, it stands for disparaging remark for a traitor to Han Chinese. ‘’’’ Ollervides exclaimed. He also explained the history of Qing written in the textbooks was replete with interpretations from a Han Chinese standpoint. ‘’Why do they say Manchus were oppressed, when my clan was well treated by my Japanese relatives?’’ ‘’Why do they say Chinese liberated Manchuria when obviously Chinese exterminated my clan? Ollervides reiterated that he understood Qing Dynasty met its inevitable demise, but did not understand why the archive of Machu, with a disparate record, culture, and values, is invariably rendered into a part of Chinese history. As a descendant of the Manchu royal family who only comprehended the tangled identity change after reaching his adulthood, to present himself as a Chinese without a second thought turned into a delicate matter.
Ollervides’ grandfather, the Founder of Republic. 圖／伊啟威 提供
A big portion of Manchu Culture has faded during the war and Cultural Revolution at long last. Modern Manchus are also prone to intermarry with Han Chinese, which resulted in escalated loss of Manchu ethnic and cultural identity. Though new generation is having problem to retain Manchu identity, Ollervides pointed outFurthermore, from the details –his family does not communicate when dining together, does not eat dog meat, and does not commemorate the Tomb-Sweeping Day- which Ollervides was not aware of as a kid, belong to traditions of the every typical Manchu family. Ollervides believes that Manchu culture hasn’t disappeared completely. But the cultural assimilation policy, enforced by the CCP, and modernization, have driven Manchu identity into quandary. Considering facts that vertical script of Manchu language cannot be adapted into Modern keyboard layout and that CCP neglects preservation of Manchu heritage, he felt responsibility to learn about his ancestors’ culture after he has grown up.
Two years after Ollervides’ visit, Isangga’s tomb was raided in 2013, Ollervides commented with a hint of grievance ’’ Chinese don’t respect history.” 圖／伊啟威 提供
‘’I believe the coercion from CCP will foment ethnic minorities in China, including Manchus, to stand up and rebel. The royal bloodline gave me a stronger sense of responsibility and made me realize that there is a need to pay attention to the integrity of Manchu tradition. I’m no different from other young people in Manchuria, the only thing we hope for is a proper recognition of our culture and history.’’
Ollervides contemplated ‘’Regardless of Manchukuo or Qing dynasty, the Manchus merely wish for a distinction between themselves and Han Chinese. It doesn’t necessarily refers to the establishment of Manchu state, but it shouldn’t be anywhere close to oppression of ethnic minorities in China and neglect of others’ historical perspectives. We are no longer dominant in the Central Plain, but the difference of Manchu historical perspective should be valued and learned.’’
Note: Vinness.A.Ollervides, ethnic Manchu, descendant of Plain Yellow Banner Irgen Gioro clan, was a Stanford dropout, writer, entrepreneur, polyglot with knowledge of 6 languages. His grandfather was a minority high-level CCP official, bestowed with the title ‘’the Founder of Republic’’. His father died in jail for his role in Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. Ollervides is now a political activist and the third generation of CCP aristocrat. He is banned from China for his public speech about democracy of Taiwan, Tibet and Manchu.