The Emperor Arrives! plays off a familiar line in Chinese period movies and dramas, in which court officials announce when the emperor grants his presence at a particular event, usually on a royal sedan. In today’s context, self-styled Chinese ‘emperors’ continue to arrive in sedans except in its automotive form.
The idea of assuming the identity of the emperor is also witnessed in other scenarios. On a more direct and superficial level, there is the ever-popular costume portrait stands set up at almost all tourist attractions in China. Contravene to its palace context and into the streets, the ‘imperial portrait’ becomes a commodity, and allows everyone to participate in this masquerade of the divine power.
Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty abdicated his throne on 12th February 1912. And since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the middle kingdom has seen significant transformation through reforms and progress. Supported by Beijing’s essentially unlimited financial resources, China’s increasing economic growth is steadily taking over the world commercially. Such is the aggressive worldwide push of Chinese state capitalism that the mandate to rule is no longer in one person’s hands. Everyone wants to be the emperor.