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Empress Dowager Cixi is the most important woman in Chinese history. Ruling China for 47 years, she transformed China from a medieval state into a modern society.
One of Emperor Xianfeng’s 3,000 concubines, she rose rapidly, cementing her position by producing an heir, Tongzhi. When Xianfeng died in 1861, Tongzhi was only five. Cixi at once launched a palace coup, ousted the regents appointed by her husband and made herself sole regent for her son.
In this new biography, Jung Chang shows that under Cixi’s rule China acquired virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, cars, electricity, telephones, an army with modern weaponry. She developed foreign trade and diplomacy, and revolutionised the education system; newspapers were published for the first time, students were sent abroad to study. Yet Cixi is a figure we in the West know little about. Come along for an enlightening talk on this powerful and progressive female ruler from a world-renowned historian.