Head of the House of Aisin Gioro

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The House of Aisin Gioro ruled China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). A Chinese emperor would pick one of his many sons, or another relative, to succeed him. Under the Qing, a succession edict was hidden in the palace and read upon the death of the emperor.[1]

After Puyi, China's last emperor, was ousted in 1912, the country was declared a republic. Puyi was emperor of Manchukuo, now northeastern China, in 1934–1945. He died without issue in 1967. His brother Prince Pujie was next in line under a 1937 succession law, the most recently published agreed upon succession rule.[2] Stories published in the Chicago Times and The New York Times acknowledge Pujie as heir of Puyi.[3]

Pujie died in 1994. He is survived by a daughter, Princess Husheng, who was born in 1941. However, the law restricts succession to males.[4] Several news stories have suggested that Jin Yuzhang, a nephew of Puyi and Pujie, is the current family head.[5]

Present line of succession[edit]

Alternative proposals[edit]

In The Empty Throne, Tony Scotland tells how he found Prince Yuyan, who lived in a mud floor hovel near the imperial palace.[8] Yuyan, a distant cousin of Puyi, told Scotland that the former emperor made him heir to the throne in a ceremony performed while they were imprisoned in Russia together in 1950.[9] This claim is not supported by any official document, although it was customary in the Qing dynasty that an emperor name his successor in a will or edict. Puyi's autobiography confirms merely that the idea was discussed.[10] Yuyan died in 1997. His eldest son is Prince Hengzhen, who was born in 1944.[11] There is no indication that Yuyan designated him heir to the throne, or that he claims this status.

During the 1911 Revolution some minorities suggested that the Manchu emperor be replaced by an ethnic Chinese. Both Duke Yansheng, a descendant of Confucius,[12][13][14][15] and the Marquis of Extended Grace, a descendant of the imperial family of the Ming dynasty, were proposed and rejected.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Terrill, Ross, The New Chinese Empire: And What It Means For The United States, Basic Books, Mar 5, 2009, p. 78-79.
  2. ^ The Manchoukuo Year Book 1941, "Text of the Law Governing Succession to the Imperial Throne", March 1, 1937, p. 905, Tōa Keizai Chōsakyoku (Japan). "In the absence of sons or descendants, the brothers of the reigning emperor, borne of the same mother, and their male-line descendants succeed according to age." (Article 5)
    Buyers, Christopher, The Royal Ark, "China".
  3. ^ Schmetzer, Uli, "Emperor-in-waiting recalls bygone age", Chicago Tribune, Oct. 25, 1992.
    "Pu Jie, 87, Dies, Ending Dynasty Of the Manchus", New York Times, March 2, 1994.
  4. ^ "The Imperial Throne of Manchoukuo shall be succeeded to by male descendants in the male line of His Majesty the Emperor for ages to come." (Article 1, "Text of the Law Governing Succession to the Imperial Throne", The Manchoukuo Year Book 1941, p. 905.)
  5. ^ a b Spencer, Richard, "The Chinese man who would be emperor", The Telegraph, 30 Nov 2008.
    McDonald, Hamish, "Heir to China's throne celebrates a modest life," The Age, November 27, 2004
  6. ^ "Life of Last Chinese Emperor's Nephew", People Daily, Dec. 11, 2000.
    金毓峑, Baidu.
  7. ^ 金毓岚, Baidu.
  8. ^ Scotland, Tony, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Empty Throne: Quest for an Imperial Heir in the People's Republic of China, (1993).
  9. ^ Scotland, p. 180.
  10. ^ Henry Pu Yi, Paul Kramer, The Last Manchu: The Autobiography of Henry Pu Yi, Last Emperor of China, p. 244.
  11. ^ Scotland, p. 177.
  12. ^ Eiko Woodhouse (2 August 2004). The Chinese Hsinhai Revolution: G. E. Morrison and Anglo-Japanese Relations, 1897-1920. Routledge. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-1-134-35242-5.
  13. ^ Jonathan D. Spence (28 October 1982). The Gate of Heavenly Peace: The Chinese and Their Revolution. Penguin Publishing Group. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-1-101-17372-5.
  14. ^ Shêng Hu; Danian Liu (1983). The 1911 Revolution: A Retrospective After 70 Years. New World Press. p. 55.
  15. ^ The National Review, China. H. Vetch. 1967. p. 67.
  16. ^ Percy Horace Braund Kent (1912). The Passing of the Manchus. E. Arnold. pp. 382–.
  17. ^ M.A. Aldrich (1 March 2008). The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China's Capital Through the Ages. Hong Kong University Press. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-962-209-777-3.