Lars Ulrik Thom is a historian and writer based in Beijing. He studied sinology and Chinese language at universities in Copenhagen, Kunming and Beijing. He regularly speaks on the history of modern China and is the co-author of a Danish travel guide to Beijing.
Thom is also the co-founder of Beijing Postcards. Beijing Postcards is a company that specializes in modern Chinese history, with an emphasis on Beijing. The company collects visual interpretations of China through photographs, prints, and maps. Beijing Postcards also organizes walking tours, sells historic maps, and conducts research on topics relating to modern Chinese history. Thom spoke for YCW BJ on Puyi, the boy emperor, drawing on his own research.
This November marked ninety years since the boy emperor, Puyi, finally left the Forbidden City.
When the young, bespectacled monarch was finally expelled from his palace, it was also the end of the Imperial governance of the Forbidden City. Hundreds of eunuchs, acrobats, soldiers, servants, etc. followed the ex-monarch into the dusty streets of Beijing and the most important institution in Chinese history was abolished for good.
The film “The Last Emperor” is to many the first introduction to Imperial China. But what did the Imperial departure really mean to China? And what did it mean to Beijing? How is Puyi remembered today? Does his legacy in fact hold any significance at all?