Continued from Part I
PuYi considered several destinations to relocate to but eventually settled in the foreign section of Tientsin, specifically in the Japanese legation. Here he had more freedom than he had ever enjoyed in the traditional confines of the Forbidden City and preferred the modern conveniences and cosmopolitan atmosphere he had never known before. He was generally treated with great respect by the representatives of foreign nations, still given the respect due an emperor and was able to dress in western clothes and adopt western practices. This is something most Chinese people were doing anyway but it upset some of his more traditional courtiers who thought it beneath the dignity of the Lord of 10,000 Years to look and act like a European playboy. He also never gave up hope of restoring the Qing Empire and was in constant contact with Chinese loyalists, his Manchurian relatives and the always fickle warlords who demanded a lot of money but delivered only promises. He was also conspicuously well treated by the Japanese who convinced him that they had his best interests at heart, and as fellow believers in the superiority of monarchy and the imperial system, were entirely supportive of his restoration.
What seemed like his chance to do so came in 1932 when the Japanese, who had occupied Manchuria with little resistance from official Chinese republican forces, approached the Emperor about returning to power in his ancestral homeland. It took a little negotiation to get PuYi to go along with the idea, especially when it was made clear that this would be a new state and not a restoration of the Qing Empire. Further, PuYi was rather insulted when the Japanese insisted that he be installed first as Chief Executive rather than as a monarch. His longtime advisor Chen Pao-shen was totally opposed to the idea and favored what seemed the safer course of trying to restore the Articles of Favorable Treatment. Others, however, like Cheng Hsiao-hsu and Lo Chen-yu impressed upon him that this was an opportunity that might never come again and the Japanese promised that he would resume his imperial status at an appropriate time in the future. PuYi finally agreed to the enterprise on a trial basis and if he did not become emperor after a certain amount of time he would resign and resume his life as an exile.
In 1934 PuYi was formally enthroned as Emperor of Manchukuo, taking the reign name of Kang Teh or Tranquility and Virtue of the Great Manchu Empire. This new status did not, though, ease his relationship with the Japanese which was difficult even at the very start of his new reign. PuYi could not bear the idea of being enthroned in anything but the traditional robes of a Chinese emperor. The Japanese, on the other hand, insisted that he wear Manchukuo military uniform. In the end it was agreed that PuYi would be enthroned in uniform but wear traditional regalia when he announced his accession to Heaven at a recently constructed earthen altar. PuYi was, nonetheless, filled with hope for the future, especially after a formal visit to Japan where he was warmly received by Emperor Hirohito. He announced that Japan and Manchukuo were partners and friends and that he intended to produce an heir to secure the succession.
To be concluded in Part III...