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November 16, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright November 16, 2008. Used by permission.


Both the Guangxu Emperor and Empress Dowager Cixi died one hundred years ago this week (November 14 and November 15, respectively), and some of our favorite news sites and blogs have been commemorating the anniversaries, made more newsworthy by the recent revelations that Guangxu was (as has long been suspected) poisoned. Here’s a short reading guide for whodunnit (the debate continues) and further reflections:

1. NPR’s Louisa Lim on the latest theories of Guangxu’s death:

“Guangxu died just 22 hours before the 74-year-old Empress Dowager Cixi. Imperial medical records indicated that Guangxu’s death was due to natural causes. But even then, there were rumors of murder most foul. Now modern science has uncovered the truth.

“‘We took a hair measuring 10 inches, and after analysis, we found its arsenic content was 2,400 times higher than normal,’ says Zhu Chenru, deputy director of the National Committee for the Compilation of Qing history. The research was carried out over the past five years by his institute, the China Institute of Atomic Energy, the forensic lab of the Beijing police and China Central Television.”