So who was worse for China? The Dragon Lady or the crazy ignored wife of Mao?
So who was worse for China, comrades?
Cixi or Jiang Qing?
Pick your poison?
Cixi was willing at the end of the day to kill her own nephew if that meant getting her way, even in the afterlife. I’ve been fair with Cixi. As much as anyone not writing more than a simplistic blog could be. Cixi was one of the very few females with the opportunity to flash her natural capabilities for the good of China. I honestly believe she never wanted to be the Dragon Lady behind the curtain. But her Emperor died young. Than her son. And only then did she truly accept her fate.
Her decision making killed millions. It humiliated China further. She indeed drained the treasury.
She ordered her tomb destroyed and rebuilt, wasting millions more. To keep everyone off balance she suddenly flirted with The West. Bu in her old age, her final few breaths, her true colors at last revealed, she killed her own nephew.
And not one person tried to stop her.
Jiang Qing on the other hand was a known entity, perhaps like Stalin to Lenin. For thirty years she was banned from participating in politics. All the while Wang Guangmei cemented and solidified her role as the First Lady of China. Smart, extremely well educated and committed to a New China, she was without question the prototype. The Model Chinese Youth the Party hoped would dominate China’s Future.
Not the vindictive, uncouth daughter of a concubine. From Shanghai’s Film Industry no less! A twice married harlot! How could Jiang Qing not want bad things to happen to Wang Guangmei? Yet until the moment of her arrest she was all set to rule China. Even if it meant poverty and backwardness for All. She was within a hair’s breadth of succeeding.
Jiang Qing and Cixi had one thing in common; both were consummate infighters. And both were wildly underestimated. Jiang Qing from perhaps 1969 on knew that one day China could be hers for the taking. And when Lin Biao died in a plane crash the path to power was clearer than ever. Yet Jiang Qing was not rich. She stayed in a Shanghai hotel but she was never opulent.
So why did Cixi successfully grab absolute power and Jiang Qing did not?
Cixi had a son. Thus was given great leeway and deference while her son was alive. Jiang Qing did not have a son. If she had indeed given birth to a son rather than a “mere” daughter, her son would have been in his thirties during China’s greatest need. And Jiang Qing would have been protected.
Alas, China’s other capable leaders, first among them Deng Xiaoping, were able to successfully rise to the fore. And unlike Jiang Qing, who plotted and schemed when not shitting and sleeping, Deng Xiaoping even kept Mao’s “successor” Hua Guofeng around after his demise. He never went to jail.
He was never criticized in the media.
Alas in Qing China, deference to Cixi at the end was absolute. The Nation, with its Confucian ruling class simply could not fathom a coup against the leader of China.
I think in the end, Cixi without question was worse for China. After all, this blind deference given to a leader led directly to the downfall of the regime. China in the early 1860’s had a choice. Just like Japan. It chose “unwisely”, and in a bit more of a generation was humiliated by the little engine that could. And it still kept Cixi in power!
Even the rise of the Boxer Movement and further humiliation of China at the hands of the West could not dislodge this woman!
Jiang Qing was a mean bitch. Vindictive and at the end of her life blind with rage at those who had ridiculed her from the 30’s onward. Many of whom she successfully disposed of.
Was there anyone less unfortunate than Sun Weishi? The pretty girl that pissed off not just Jiang Qing, but also Ye Qun? The two most powerful women in the 60’s were gunning for her. How could she not die?
But Jiang Qing only ran wild for a decade. Cixi for half a century. I can argue Cixi so fucked up China that it took until the first decade of this century to recover from. Jiang Qing? She was just another pissed off “consort”, who was able to freely throw dishes around in the kitchen for a decade without neither contrition nor penance.