A Touch of Evil

How does one compare Cixi and Jiang Qing?

Different times, right?

Indeed they were.   In sum, who was worse for China?  Who did China the worst damage, from an historical  perspective? 

And who was personally crueler?

Didn’t either of them have any redeeming qualities, whatsoever?   Life is never as it seems.  It is gray.  Judging things from a black and white perspective is foolish.  All we receive is a simplistic understanding of events.  Thus dooming us to repeat the same mistakes over.

Frankly speaking, I’m not sure I’m up to this.   So vastly sweeping was their effect on China.  Nor am I particularly sure how to adequately address the aspects of their rule in question.

Cixi was a member of the elite.  Born into Chinese aristocracy, if you will.  Jiang Qing was the daughter of a carpenter’s mistress.  Or in “Chinaspeak”, a concubine.   Even a “mere” carpenter could have a concubine in China.

Cixi and Jiang Qing, one by luck and fortune, the other perhaps by skill, both were able to ingratiate themselves with China’s supreme leader.    And yes, you can say China paid the price for that.  Both lived a hell of a long time, as despots tend to do.  One reportedly changed her ways when it was too late.  Another was unrepentant until the end.

One of them, Cixi, brought us the Hollywood caricature of the so called “dragon lady”.    The woman behind the curtain.   In my opinion, while both would fall out of favor with history, one was shrewd, capable and beguiling.  The other getting her way through fear and intimidation.   

To understand them both, one must read a little history.  For Cixi, I’d recommend China from 1850 to the turn of the century.  For Jiang Qing, most certainly the Cultural Revolution.   But really even before that.  

I’ll first start off with Cixi.  Followed up with Jiang Qing.   I'll try to have the first post out by next week.  

Incidentally, it seems they both had a gazillion different names.  

The reader will have to decide for themselves which of the two set China back the most?  Or has given the most cause to be derided by its own people.


  1. Looking forward to this post.

  2. Mehmet II (The Conquerer) made fratricide an official policy. I don't believe it was widely practiced before. His reforms transformed the empire into a near-eastern style state (think Assyrians) where there was only one absolute ruler and no aristocracy or nobility was allowed to exist. Of course, following Mehmed II (who was of extremely strong character) the sultans became as much if not more the slaves of the military, bureaucracy, and harem as they were to him. Not sure about your Darwinian theory ;)

    Pre-Mehmed II and the conquest of Constantinople some elements of Turkic governance still existed and the concept of first among equals was not completely foreign to the sultans.


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