The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, by Geremie R. Barmé, London: Profile Books/Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 2008.

Chapter 7: Three Hundred Years On

page 143 For the quotations from Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, see Guo Moruo Jinian Guan, Zhongguo Guo Moruo Yanjiu Hui and Sichuan Guo Moruo Yanjiu Xuehui, eds, Jianshen sanbainian ji fengyu liushi nian (Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 2005), p.38. For a book-length description of the Communist Party leaders' entry into Beijing to 'take the imperial exams', see Feng Aizhen and Chen Yushu's Jin Jing gankao—Zhonggong 'Wu da shuji' (Fuzhou: Fujian Renmin Chubanshe, 2006). On the much-celebrated 'peaceful liberation' of Beiping/Beijing, see Dai Qing, '1948: How Peaceful was the Liberation of Beiping?', The Sixty-eighth Morrison Lecture, The Australian National University, 5 September 2007, translated by Geremie R. Barmé and John Minford on the basis of a draft by Anne Gunn. A full translation of this speech, along with the Chinese original, will feature in Issue 14 (June 2008) of China Heritage Quarterly, the focus of which is 'Beijing, the Invisible City'.

page 144 Guo Moruo's lengthy essay, 'Commemoration of the Three-Hundredth Year since Jiashen [1644]' was originally serialized in the Communist Party-controlled Xinhua Ribao (New China Daily) in the wartime capital of Chongqing from 19 to 21 March 1944. It was subsequently reprinted a number of times. See Guo Moruo, Jiashen sanbainian ji (Beijing: Renmin Chubanshe, 1972, latest reprinting 2004).

The main pavilion on the peak of Prospect Hill at Jing Shan Park as seen from the parking lot at the north entrance of the Forbidden City, formerly the location of Upper North Gate (Beishang Men) (see the illustration on page 124 of The Forbidden City. [Photo: GRB]

In the last years of the Cultural Revolution the novelist Yao Xueyin (1901-99) won Mao's support to produce a novel about the fall of the Ming simply titled Li Zicheng. Finally completed in 1999 it is said to be the longest modern Chinese novel. A 100-part TV series was adapted from the book. Yao was highly critical of Guo Moruo's interpretation of the events of 1644 and was tireless in his nitpicking. Discussion regarding the role of peasant rebellions in Chinese history were a feature of early post-Cultural Revolution historiography. See Kwang-Ching Liu, 'World View and Peasant Rebellion: Reflections on Post-Mao Historiography', The Journal of Asian Studies, vol.40, no.2 (February, 1981), pp.295-326. For Yao's critique of Guo and a cascade of responses, see Guo Moruo Jinian Guan, et al, eds, Jianshen sanbainian ji fengyu liushi nian (publication details as above), pp. 214-336.

page 144 For Mao's comment on 'small victories', see Mao Zedong, 'Zhi Guo Moruo' (21 November 1944) in Mao Zedong shuxin xuanji (Beijing: Renmin Wenxue Chubanshe, 1983).

pages 144-45 For a description of the fall of Beijing to the rebel forces of the Marauding Prince, see Frederick W. Mote, Imperial China: 900-1800 (Cambridge, Ma.: Harvard University Press, 1999), pp.806-10, 813-15.

page 148 The quotations from the imperial edict following the establishment of Qing rule in Beijing, see 'Shizu benji I', 'Benji', juan 4, Qingshi gao (Draft History of the Qing dynasty) (Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju, 1998), vol.I, p.80. This language of political change, the passing of a mandate to rule, or reformgaigewas common in traditional parlance covering the events of 1644. See Susan Naquin, Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400-1900, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000, p.299.

page 148 For the quotation from Mao Anying, see his October 1949 letter, quoted by the party leader Bo Yibo in his memoir Ruogan zhongda juece yu shijiande huigu (Beijing: Zhonggong Zhongyang Dangxiao Chubanshe, 1991), vol.1, p.158.

pages 147-48 Regarding the state of the Forbidden City and Ming-era imperial structures in the former capital at the time of the Ming-Qing transition, see Jonathan Hay, 'Ming Palace and Tomb in Early Qing Jiangning: Dynastic Memory and the Openness of History', Late Imperial China, 20.1 (1999), pp.1-48 at pp.7-10. For details of the Qing expulsion of Han-Chinese from the Inner City of Beijing during the reign of the Shunzhi Emperor, see the Editorial of China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 12 (December 2007).

page 148 Dorgon's princely mansion was built in the Ming-era South Within (Nan Nei), also called the East Garden (Dong Yuan) as its location paralleled that of the West Garden (the Lake Palaces). For details, see my essay 'Downward Spiral: from Palace to Mansion to Temple to Museum' in China Heritage Quarterly, Issue 12 (December 2007).

page 149 Zhang Boju's ci poem is quoted by Dai Qing in her Morrison Lecture, '1948: How Peaceful was the Liberation of Beiping?', mentioned above.

The Screen Building at the Forbidden City
The North Screen Building strecthing out from the Western Flourishing Gate at the Forbidden City [Photo: GRB]

page 151 For details of Yuan Shikai's inauguration, see 'Ji dazongtong liren dadian', Shen Bao, 11 October 1913. Yuan's own appearance on the day did not impress all of those present. George E. Morrison, the Australian correspondent for the London Times observed that Yuan 'came in wobbling like a duck, looking fat and unhealthy, in Marshal's uniform, the loose flesh of his neck hanging down over his collar'. See Henrietta Harrison, The Making of the Republican Citizen (referred to in the notes to Chapter 2), p.17ff.

page 151 The quotation is from Daniele Varè's 1938 Laughing Diplomat, quoted in Chris Elder, ed., Old Peking: City of the Ruler of the World (Oxford and Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1997), p.56. Frockcoats and tophats were part of the formal dress of politicians and public servants from the time of the early Republic. Indeed, sartorial revolution was a feature of the political revolution of the era. For details, see Henrietta Harrison, The Making of the Republican Citizen, Political Ceremonies and Symbols in China 1911-1929, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp.48-92, esp. pp.58-60.

page 151 A description of these is given by Li Zhisui, The Private Life of Chairman Mao, The memoirs of Mao's personal physician Dr. Li Shisui, trans. Tai Hung-chao with Anne F. Thurston (New York: Random House, 1994), pp.67–80. Throughout this text, Dr Li describes life in the Lake Palaces from his perspective.

page 154 On Mao's refusal to enter the Forbidden City, see Wang Jun, 'Gugong gaijian jihua', Jiefang Ribao, 31 January 2006. A frequently reproduced photograph shows Mao sitting on the wall of the Forbidden City in 1954, giving the impression that Mao actually entered the former imperial precinct proper.

page 157 Jiang Zemin: both Jiang, and the Premier Zhu Rongji, used the pavilions on Ocean Terrace for entertainments and banquets on both state occasions and when entertaining visitors more informally.

page 157 When, in early 1990, he admonished his comrades not to cut themselves off behind high palace walls, Jiang Zemin was commenting on a theatrical production based on the Li Zicheng fiasco. Quoted in Zhai Aihong and Xu Hongquan 'Ru Zhijuan chuyan Jiashen ji',

page 159 For details about the Upper Northern Gate, see Zhu Xie, Xiri Jinghua (Tianjin: Baihua Wenyi Chubanshe, 2005), pp.2-3.

page 160 On the conflagration at the Palace of Established Happiness, see Reginald F. Johnston, Twilight in the Forbidden City (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1934). p.336, and the picture on the facing page showing the site after the fire. See also Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, From Emperor to Citizen—The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, translated by W.J.F. Jenner (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1979, second edition), vol.1, pp.132-34.

page 161 For details of Zhang Bo's career, see Zou Denong, Zhongguo jianzhushi tushuo, Xiandai juan (Beijing: Zhongguo Jianzhu Gongye Chubanshe, 2001).

pages 161-62 The details concerning the new east wing of the Peking Hotel are based on the documents: 'Beijing Jianzhu Sheji Yuan jianzhu sheji dang'an: Beijing Fandian kuojian gongcheng quanzong' (weikan gao: '1973-74 jianzhu fang'an sheji di 20 hao', '1973-74 jianzhu fang'an sheji di 20 hao 20-1 xiugai gao' and '1973-74 Gongcheng Zhihuibu wenjian'); Zhang Bo, Wode jianzhu chuangzuo daolu (Beijing: Zhongguo Jianzhu Gongye Chubanshe, 1997), Chapter 8 ('Beijing Fandian Dongloude kunhuo'), esp. pp.224-229; Wang Fan, 'Jingdong Zhongnan Haide Beijing Fandian Xin Donglou shijian', in Zhonghua Dushu Bao, 30 October 2002; and, Yang Xiaosheng, 'Zhuming gaoji jianzhushi Zhang Bode gushi', in Binzhou Wenshi (1) (Beijing: Zhongguo Wenlian Chubanshe, 2001) at:

pages 161-62 Regarding the dimensions of and potential uses for the Screen Buildings, see 'Beijing Jianzhu Sheji Yuan jianzhu sheji dang'an: Beijing Fandian kuojian gongcheng quanzong': Shejizu bugong sheji wenjian: Zhongyang Jingwei Ju Lou he Wenbo Ju Wenwu Ku)'.

The Screen Buildings are divided into three clusters: the South Screen Building (Nan Pingfeng Lou) which is the section extending south from West Flourishing Gate; the North Screen Building (Bei Pingfeng Lou) which stretches north of West Flourishing Gate; and, the Adjunct Building (Pei Lou), the 240 metre building in three parts that was constructed on orders from Zhou Enlai to shield the Lake Palaces' phone exchange and his own residence and offices. The South Screen Building was under the control of the Central Guard Bureau; the North Screen Building came under the jurisdiction of the Number One Archives of China (Zhongguo Diyi Dang'an Guan); and, the Adjunct Building provided storage for the State Cultural Relics Bureau, the Palace Museum and the National Museum of China. In 1980, Zhang Yufeng, Mao Zedong's former personal assistant (and prior to that a train worker from Hunan who frequently appeared with Mao during the Red Guard rallies in Tiananmen in 1966), was made the deputy director of the Number One Archives of China. She was transferred to work in the retired cadre office of the Ministry of Rail Transportation in 1983.

The Screen Building at the Forbidden City
The South Screen Building at the Forbidden City [Photo: GRB]

In 2004, Jin Hongkui, then deputy director of the Palace Museum, declared that the Screen Buildings all but submerged West Flourishing Gate. He also complained about the continued military presence inside the gate, the guards and the constant flow of vehicles. 'It's as though the Former Palace has a military barracks stationed in it,' he declared. See Jin's comments in the Xinhua News Agency report by Li Yang, 'Jingcheng wenwu gujian shenxian bei zhanyong kunjing', 27 May 2005.

page 162 For the material on the West Flower Pavilion from the time of Prince Chun to Zhou Enlai's incumbency, see Wu Kong, Zhongnan Hai shiji (Beijing: Zijin Cheng Chubanshe, 1998), pp.143-44.

page 164 Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, From Emperor to Citizen—The Autobiography of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi (publication details as above), p.67.

page 165 The original of Yuan Zhen's poem 'The Detached Palace' 元稹 行宮 is as follows:


page 166 For a short time after 1949, Liu Shaoqi and his family had lived in the 'Swastika Corridor' (Wanzi Lang) on the western side of the Lake Palaces. This was a building constructed in the shape of a swastika (the outline of another such building can be seen at the Garden of Perfect Brightness, where a studio in the shape of a massive swastika was favoured by the Yongzheng Emperor). This structure was not far from Mao's Chrysanthemum Studio and the Spring Lotus-root Studio (Chun'ou Zhai), which was used for screening films and dances (it was here that Mao and his colleagues had watched The Secret History of the Qing Court in 1950). According to Wang Guangmei, the Guangxu Emperor had studied in the Swastika Corridor. For a short time Liu and Wang had three rooms in what was an unwelcoming and inconvenient structure: a bedroom, an office and a reception room.

In 1951, the first new buildings built by the Communist leaders in the Lake Palaces were completed. Called the West Buildings (Xi Lou) these consisted of four large structures which contained spacious residences, dining halls and conference rooms for the top Party leaders. Building Number One (Jia Lou) was built specifically for Mao Zedong but he refused to move in, so it became home to Liu and his family for the next ten years. Their 1963 move to Fortune of High Reward Residence resulted from prompting by the Central Committee Office which, following a number of mischievous incidents involving the children of Party elders, had expressed concerned about the leaders' safety.

For these details and more about Liu Shaoqi and Wang Guangmei's last home in the Lake Palaces, the Fortune of High Reward Residence (they lived there from September 1963 until 1969), see Huang Zheng's interviews with Wang, 'Wang Guangmei fangtanlu (55)—cong Xi Lou ban dao Fulu Ju', published on the Renmin wang website at: