This article accompanies the fable
Oz is China
The Wizard of Oz was Yuan Shikai
If the Empress Cixi was the Wicked Witch, there are several candidates for the Wizard of Oz. The leading candidate is not the Guangxu Emperor so much as a mysterious figure called Yuan Shikai who, in the events of 1898, betrayed the Emperor and sided with the Empress Dowager. The following year the Empress dispatched him to Shandong province where he skillfully ignored the Empress Dowager’s instructions to support the Boxers. In fact he did quite the opposite, cracking down on the Boxers while protecting foreigners. While this made the occupying European powers happy with him, Chinese historians ever since have damned him for playing both sides -- an opportunist, a fraud, a confidence man, a Wizard of Oz. Some still revile him as a traitor while others see him as a pragmatist. He himself believed that chaos would overwhelm China after the death of the Empress. When she died, he seized control, proclaiming himself Emperor in 1915, however he died shortly afterwards and he was proved right, for China did indeed fall into chaos.