For millennia, China’s emperors were considered the Sons of Heaven and worshiped as such. When referred to as the Son of Heaven, a title that predates the Qin unification (221-207 BC), the emperor was recognized as the ruler of “all under heaven”.
After Imperial China ended, Sun Yat-sen established a brief Chinese republic soon brought to an end by competing warlords, who plunged China into anarchy and violence. It wouldn’t be until 1928 that Chiang Kai-shek would become the victor and dictator of China and reestablish some order.
Mao won China in 1949 and stayed in power until his death in 1976. Mao has been called the modern emperor since he lived in the Forbidden City and ruled for twenty-seven years. After Mao’s death, Deng Xiaoping and his supporters decided they didn’t want to have another god-like figure ruling China, and the Communist Party added amendments to the Chinese constitution creating term limits and an age limit.
Mao is still revered in China. His tomb was built in Tiananmen square and his body is preserved beneath the tomb in refrigeration. Visitors may pay a small fee to visit the tomb and possibly see China’s modern emperor on display behind bulletproof glass with attending guards.
Learn more about China’s Modern Dynasty
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