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Song of Hope

Three women in three generations struggle with love and pain through times of great political upheaval in China...
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Three women, from three generations, must live through times of great turbulence. They endure tragedy and political upheaval, war and revolution.

They loose everything but their strength and their hope for the future and for their family, and it is this strength which leads them to achievement and to love.

They have witnessed the last hundred years of Chinese history, from the final days of Imperial China to the Cultural Revolution and the ambiguous and multicultural world of today.

It is a story which touches the essence of human feeling, of love and pain, desperation and hope..(read more)


Li Shuxian, 73, Widow of Last China Emperor
Published: June 11, 199 THE NEW YORK TIMES

Li Shuxian, the widow of China's last Emperor, has died, breaking one of the final links to the 267-year Qing dynasty, which ended when the boy Emperor Pu Yi was deposed in 1911.

The official New China News Agency said today that Ms. Li had died on Monday of cancer at the age of 73.

She had no royal blood. She was a nurse at the time of their marriage, in 1962, and Pu Yi was working in the mechanical repair shop of a botanical garden. But she appeared to have offered him a few final years of comfort at the end of a tortured life.

''On May 1, I and my bride, Li Shuxian, started our own little home, and this ordinary home was, to me, something extraordinary,'' Pu Yi wrote in his autobioraphy, ''From Emperor to Citizen.''

He died of cancer at the age of 61 in 1967, at the height of the radical Cultural Revolution, and official Chinese reports said he had died while under persecution by revolutionary militants.
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His humiliating story brought to an unhappy close China's 2,000-year imperial system. From infancy, he played the role of puppet, first to the imperial household, then to China's Japanese occupiers and finally to its new Communist Government.

He was not yet 3 when he was placed on the Dragon Throne in 1908 as the result of a palace power struggle that was won by the Empress Dowager, the widow of his great-uncle. Just three years later, Pu Yi was forced to abdicate when a new republic swept the royal Government from power.

After his abdication, he was allowed to remain for some years in the Forbidden City. His first wife, Wan Rong, whom he married when they both were 17, became an opium addict and died in an asylum in 1946.

In 1924 the former Emperor -- by then calling himself Henry Pu Yi -- secretly left Beijing to reside in the Japanese colony at Tianjin, where he allowed the Japanese to install him as president and then, in 1934, as the ''emperor'' of the puppet state known as Manchukuo.

At the end of World War II, in 1945, he was taken prisoner by the Russians and held until 1950, when he was returned to Communist China for trial as a war criminal. He remained in prison for nine years, undergoing the re-education process known as ''learning and practice,'' writing and rewriting a ''confession'' of misdeeds.

Pardoned by Mao in 1959, he found work the next year in the Beijing Botanical Gardens, and while there married Ms. Li, who had been his nurse when his imprisonment was interrupted by a hospital stay. Soon after they married, he received an appointment to the National Political Library and the Historical Materials Research Committee, where he worked on his memoirs.

After his death, his widow published her own account of their brief marriage, and it became one of several movies about his life, feeding a new public fascination with China's imperial past.

Ms. Li appeared in public in 1995, looking pale and nervous, to rebury the ashes of her husband on the outskirts of Beijing amid the imposing tombs of his Manchu ancestors who formed the Qing dynasty.

With her death, Pu Yi's survivors are believed to include at least one half-brother, a half-sister and a concubine, Li Yuqin, who lives in the northeastern city of Changchun.


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