China's Dowager Empress Cixi has been long reviled as a despotic ruler who rose to power by harem intrigue, but it was she who transformed the once medieval country into a modern nation, giving rights to citizens especially women and opening and facilitating China's engagement with the world for its own benefit, according to renowned Chinese-born British author Jung Chang.
"Unfortunately, her contribution has not been acknowledged as much as Deng Xiaoping's who also opened the country to the West," Chang said at a session on the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival on January 21, 2015.
Sketching out the career of this remarkable woman who was at the helm of China for the better part of half a century, Jung, author of "Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China", said Cixi was born in 1835 and at the age of 16, chosen as a concubine to the Xianfeng Emperor (reigned 1850-61).
Originally of the sixth rank, she rose up on the birth of a son in 1856 and eventually was only second to the empress.
Image Courtesy: Book publisher
Text: Vikas Datta, IANS