Boxer Insurrection
(1900)
   A short conflict arising out of antiforeign sentiment in China as a result of many factors, including the rapid development of European trade and the acquisition by various European powers of important Chinese port cities: Kiaochow by Germany in 1897, Port Arthur by Russia, and Wei-hai-wei by Britain in 1898. The Chinese government connived with young Chinese associated with a fanatical secret society known as The Society of the Righteous Harmonious Fists, popularly known as “Boxers,” who also received active support from the Dowager Empress Tzu His. While professing a powerlessness to influence matters, she actually incited them. Intensifying violence on a wide scale was directed against converts to Christianity, missionaries, and laborers and foreign managers on foreign-controlled railways. Responding to such threats to their own nationals, various European powers, together with the United States and Japan, dispatched troops to China to protect their citizens and to reassert what they claimed to be their commercial and property rights. Beginning in June 1900, foreign warships began assembling off Tientsin, from which they detached a military contingent of about 500 troops from various nations with orders to proceed to Beijing and guard the foreign legations. Shortly thereafter Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour, commander of the British naval forces in China, landed a force of 2,000 Royal Marines and sailors, who were repulsed by a Chinese force of overwhelming strength at Tang Ts’u. After suffering 300 casualties, the force returned to the ships. On June 17 the allies seized the Taku Forts, which guarded the river up to Tientsin. Meanwhile at Peking , the Boxers murdered the German Minister, massacred thousands of Christians, and laid siege to the foreign legations.
   From Taku, a force of Russians, French, British, Germans, Americans, and Japanese were dispatched to the legations’ relief. The allied force, reinforced to 5,000, successfully stormed Tientsin on July 23, and by early August numbered 18,000 men. The allies then advanced on Peking, driving off a Boxer force at Yang T’sun on August 5–6, and reached the walls of the capital on the August 13. The troops stormed the walls and gates the next day and relieved the combined legations, which had narrowly survived incessant Boxer attacks. On August 15, American artillery broke down the gates of the Imperial Palace, which, however, in deference to the Emperor, was not occupied until August 28. After Russian forces occupied Manchuria in September, the Dowager Empress accepted all allied demands on December 26. Boxers and suspected Boxers were executed, often by decapitation; German and Russian troops in particular engaged in mass reprisals. According to the Boxer Protocol, signed by 12 nations on September 12 1901, China was forced to pay a heavy indemnity of more than $335 million at the 1900 rate of exchange and to submit to other humiliations.
   See also <>; <>; <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
   Elliott, Jane. Some Did It for Civilization, Some Did It for Their Country: A Revised View of the Boxer War. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2002;
    Harrington, Peter. Peking 1900: The Boxer Rebellion. London: Greenwood, 2005;
    Preston, Diana. A Brief History of the Boxer Rebellion. London: Constable and Robinson, 2000;
    Preston, Diana. Besieged in Peking: The Story of the 1900 Boxer Rising. London: Constable 1999.
   GREGORY FREMONT-BARNES

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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