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In the fading years of the Qing dynasty the Empress Dowager Cixi ruled everything with an iron fist, including her son Emperor Guangxu. Guangxu tried to promote reform, and his favorite concubine Zhen supported him in this regard, thereby invoking the jealousy and hatred of Cixi who placed her under house arrest and denied her access to the emperor. In 1900 when the imperial troops of the western powers invaded Beijing, Cixi fled with the emperor to Xian, leaving orders with the head eunuch Cui Yugui to dispose of Concubine Zhen by throwing her down this well.

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