Boxer Rebellion Essay
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The Boxer rebellion, which is also referred to as Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan lobby group, was a proto-separatist group by the Righteous Harmony Society in China. The lobby group emerged between 1898 and 1901. The group was against foreign invasion and introduction of Christianity in China. The revolution was also against the partitioning of China. Colonial interference led to conflicts ranging from interruption of opium trade to economic exploitation.
Chinese citizens were against the signing of treaties that benefited only foreign powers. The Qing regime was forced into signing unpopular treaties that aimed at subjugating the people of China. For instance, British foreigners used the power of the treaties to acquire land that was later appropriated to the church. The Chinese peasants were forced to surrender their resources to foreigners. The activities of foreigners in China resulted to rebellion that was later termed as Boxer rebellion.
Others preferred to send them back to their homelands peacefully. This caused a delay that later on led to the defeat of the boxers and the Chinese government. Eight nations agreed to send troops to crash the boxers. Indeed, twenty thousand soldiers were deployed in China. Through the alliance of eight nations, the imperial army of China was defeated and foreigners captured Beijing.
The causes of the rebellion can be divided into two. There were internal causes and international causes. Therefore, it can be summarized that global tension and national unrest precipitated the intensification and spread of the Boxer movement. Between 1897 and 1898, farmers in China were hit by a prolonged drought followed by floods. Many farmers and other small businesspersons decided to move to towns to look for food and better lives.
A section of Boxers attacked missionaries in October 1898 at Liyuantun village. In this village, a Chinese temple had been replaced with a catholic church. The premise had been allocated to the church illegally since the Chinese locals built it. This attack is also important in understanding the Boxer rebellion because it is out of this that the Boxers made a resolution to attack foreigners.
Furthermore, the opium trade precipitated the Boxer rebellion. The western powers forced the Chinese population to utilize opium, which caused many sufferings since productive population was rendered useless mainly because of drug addiction.
The Boxer rebellion was caused by factors such as confiscation of private property and displacement of the local population. The locals wanted to flush out foreigners so that they could get some space to conduct business.
They were forced to seek for employment in urban centers. The foreigners were reluctant to offer them jobs since they were illiterate. They decided to flush out foreigners in order to take over their businesses. The rebellion was never successful because the people of China paid dearly. Many lives were lost and property worth millions of dollars was destroyed. Furthermore, the people of China were taxed in order to compensate foreign powers.
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After an introduction to the politics surrounding the Boxer Rebellion, the photo essay below documents my journey in search of architectural evidence of this remarkable period in modern Chinese history.
Such a provocative action inevitably drew a response from foreign governments. An eight-nation alliance of foreign powers sent 20,000 troops to China, including Australian troops fighting under the British flag, in a series of interventions over the following year to relieve the siege and put down the rebellion. The sieges of the legations quarter and nearby Beitang cathedral were lifted on 14th August 1900. Sixty-nine soldiers and civilians were killed and 159 wounded defending the legations quarter during the fifty-five day siege.
The Chinese Honghuzi bandits of Manchuria, who had fought alongside the Boxers in the war, did not stop when the Boxer rebellion was over, and continued guerrilla warfare against the Russian occupation up to the Russo-Japanese war when the Russians were defeated by Japan.
Some but by no means all Western missionaries took an active part in calling for retribution. To provide restitution to missionaries and Chinese Christian families whose property had been destroyed, William Ament, a missionary of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, guided American troops through villages to punish those he suspected of being Boxers and confiscate their property. When Mark Twain read of this expedition, he wrote a scathing essay, "To the Person Sitting in Darkness", that attacked the "Reverend bandits of the American Board," especially targeting Ament, one of the most respected missionaries in China. The controversy was front-page news during much of 1901. Ament's counterpart on the distaff side was British missionary Georgina Smith, who presided over a neighbourhood in Beijing as judge and jury.
The Belgian Catholic vicar apostolic of Ordos, Msgr. Alfons Bermyn wanted foreign troops garrisoned in Inner Mongolia, but the Governor refused. Bermyn petitioned the Manchu Enming to send troops to Hetao where Prince Duan's Mongol troops and General Dong Fuxiang's Muslim troops allegedly threatened Catholics. It turned out that Bermyn had created the incident as a hoax. Western Catholic missionaries forced Mongols to give up their land to Han Chinese Catholics as part of the Boxer indemnities according to Mongol historian Shirnut Sodbilig. Mongols had participated in attacks against Catholic missions in the Boxer rebellion.
The Qing government did not capitulate to all the foreign demands. The Manchu governor Yuxian, was executed, but the imperial court refused to execute the Han Chinese General Dong Fuxiang, although he had also encouraged the killing of foreigners during the rebellion. Empress Dowager Cixi intervened when the Alliance demanded him executed and Dong was only cashiered and sent back home. Instead, Dong lived a life of luxury and power in "exile" in his home province of Gansu. Upon Dong's death in 1908, all honours which had been stripped from him were restored and he was given a full military burial.
The events also left a longer impact. Historian Robert Bickers, noted that for the British government, the Boxer Rebellion served as the "equivalent of the Indian 'mutiny'", and the events of the rebellion influenced the idea of the Yellow Peril among the British public. Later events, he adds, such as the Chinese Nationalist Revolution in the 1920s and even the activities of the Red Guards of the 1960s were perceived as being in the shadow of the Boxers.
The name "Boxer Rebellion", concludes Joseph W. Esherick, a contemporary historian, is truly a "misnomer", for the Boxers "never rebelled against the Manchu rulers of China and their Qing dynasty" and the "most common Boxer slogan, throughout the history of the movement, was 'support the Qing, destroy the Foreign,' where 'foreign' clearly meant the foreign religion, Christianity, and its Chinese converts as much as the foreigners themselves." He adds that only after the movement was suppressed by the Allied Intervention did the foreign powers and influential Chinese officials both realise that the Qing would have to remain as the government of China in order to maintain order and collect taxes in order to pay the indemnity. Therefore, in order to save face for the Empress Dowager and the members of the imperial court, all argued that the Boxers were rebels and that the only support which the Boxers received from the imperial court came from a few Manchu princes. Esherick concludes that the origin of the term "rebellion" was "purely political and opportunistic", but it has had a remarkable staying power, particularly in popular accounts.
On 6 June 1900, The Times of London used the term "rebellion" in quotation marks, presumably to indicate its view that the rising was actually instigated by Empress Dowager Cixi. The historian Lanxin Xiang refers to the uprising as the "so called 'Boxer Rebellion,'" and he also states that "while peasant rebellion was nothing new in Chinese history, a war against the world's most powerful states was." Other recent Western works refer to the uprising as the "Boxer Movement", the "Boxer War" or the Yihetuan Movement, while Chinese studies refer to it as the 义和团运动 (Yihetuan yundong), that is, the "Yihetuan Movement." In his discussion of the general and legal implications of the terminology involved, the German scholar Thoralf Klein notes that all of the terms, including the Chinese terms, are "posthumous interpretations of the conflict." He argues that each term, whether it be "uprising", "rebellion" or "movement" implies a different definition of the conflict. Even the term "Boxer War", which has frequently been used by scholars in the West, raises questions. Neither side made a formal declaration of war. The imperial edicts on June 21 said that hostilities had begun and directed the regular Chinese army to join the Boxers against the Allied armies. This was a de facto declaration of war. The Allied troops behaved like soldiers who were mounting a punitive expedition in colonial style, rather than soldiers who were waging a declared war with legal constraints. The Allies took advantage of the fact that China had not signed "The Laws and Customs of War on Land", a key document signed at the 1899 Hague Peace Conference. They argued that China had violated provisions that they themselves ignored. 
By 1900, many new forms of media had matured, including illustrated newspapers and magazines, postcards, broadsides, and advertisements, all of which presented images of the Boxers and the invading armies. The rebellion was covered in the foreign illustrated press by artists and photographers. Paintings and prints were also published including Japanese woodblocks. In the following decades, the Boxers were a constant subject of comment. A sampling includes: 2b1af7f3a8