Traditional Chinese theatre, originally devised in 1790 as part of the Qianlong emperor's birthday celebration. Highly conventionalized and symbolic, it combines orchestral music, speech, song, dance, and acrobatics. The performers enact dramas based on historical epics, legend, and myth. The characters' roles and social ranks are conveyed through elaborate costumes and stylized makeup. The actor Mei Lanfang brought its influence to the West through his tours of Russia and the U.S. in the 1930s. Jingxi traditionally employed an all-male cast with female impersonators, but in the late 20th century it expanded its scope to admit female actors.
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(born May 4, 1883, Sanshui, Guangdong province, China—died Nov. 10, 1944, Nagoya, Japan) Chinese Nationalist Party figure, later head of the puppet regime established by the Japanese in 1940 to govern their conquests in China. A leading polemicist for Sun Yat-sen's revolutionary party, in 1910 he tried to assassinate the imperial regent and was caught; his courage in the face of execution resulted in his sentence being reduced. He was released the following year, after the republican revolution. In the 1920s he served as a major official in the Nationalist Party. After Sun's death, he chaired the party while Chiang Kai-shek allied with the communists in the Northern Expedition against China's warlords. Chiang and Wang vied for party control; in a compromise in 1932, Wang became president and Chiang headed the military. After war erupted with Japan, Wang flew to Hanoi, Viet., and issued a statement calling on the Chinese to stop resisting. In 1940, in collaboration with the Japanese, he became head of a regime that governed the Japanese-occupied areas centred on Nanjing. Though Wang had hoped to be granted virtual autonomy, the Japanese continued to exercise military and economic dominance. He died while undergoing medical treatment in Japan.
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(born March 18, 1910, Qikou, Zhejiang province, China—died Jan. 13, 1988, Taipei, Taiwan) Son of Chiang Kai-shek, and his successor as leader of the Nationalist government in Taiwan. He was formally elected by the National Assembly to a six-year presidential term in 1978 and reelected in 1984. He tried to maintain Taiwan's foreign-trade relationships and political independence as other countries began to break off diplomatic relations in order to establish ties with mainland China. Other actions during his presidency included ending martial law, allowing opposition parties, and encouraging native-born Taiwanese to participate in government.
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