Boxer Uprising,1898–1900, antiforeign movement in China, culminating in a desperate uprising against Westerners and Western influence.
By the end of the 19th cent. the Western powers and Japan had established wide interests in China. The Opium War (1839–42), which Great Britain had provoked, forced China to grant commercial concessions (see treaty porttreaty port,
port opened to foreign trade by a treaty. The term is usually confined to ports in those countries that formerly strongly objected to foreign trade or attempted altogether to exclude it. Thus it is used especially in reference to Japan and China.
..... Click the link for more information. ) and to recognize the principle of extraterritorialityextraterritoriality
privilege of immunity from local law enforcement enjoyed by certain aliens. Although physically present upon the territory of a foreign nation, those aliens possessing extraterritoriality are considered by customary
..... Click the link for more information. . The concessions to Great Britain were soon followed by similar ones to France, Germany, and Russia. The Ch'ingCh'ing
, the last of the Imperial dynasties of China. Background
The Ch'ing dynasty was established by the Manchus, who invaded China and captured Beijing in 1644, and lasted until 1911.
..... Click the link for more information. regime, already weakened by European encroachments, was more enfeebled by Japan's success in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95) and the subsequent further partitioning of China into foreign spheres of influence. The Ch'ing emperor, Kuang-hsuKuang-hsu
, 1871–1908, emperor of China (1875–1908). Although he was not in the direct line of succession, he was appointed to the throne by his aunt, the dowager empress and regent, Tz'u Hsi. He began his rule in 1889.
..... Click the link for more information. , attempted to meet the imperialist threat by adopting modern educational and administrative reforms, but he stirred conservative opposition and was frustrated (1898) by the dowager empress, Tz'u HsiTz'u Hsi,
, 1834–1908, dowager empress of China (1861–1908) and regent (1861–73, 1874–89, 1898–1908).
..... Click the link for more information. , who, favoring a last effort to expel foreign influence, supported armed resistance.
The dowager empress tacitly encouraged an antiforeign secret society called I Ho Ch'uan [Chinese,=righteous, harmonious fists] or, in English, the Boxers. The Boxers soon grew powerful, and late in 1899 the movement began to assume menacing proportions. Violent attacks on foreigners and on Chinese Christians occurred, particularly in the provinces of Zhili, Shanxi, and Shandong; in Manchuria; and in Inner Mongolia. In those regions, railway building, a visible symbol of the foreigner, was most active; and Chinese Christians, especially Roman Catholics, adherents to the foreigners' religion, were most numerous. Also located there were the majority of territorial leaseholds acquired by the European powers.
In June, 1900, the Boxers (some 140,000 strong and now led by the war party at court), occupied Beijing and for eight weeks besieged the foreigners and the Chinese Christians there. Provincial governors in SE China suppressed the court's declaration of war and assured the powers of protection for foreign interests, thus limiting the area of conflict to N China. The siege was lifted in August by an international force of British, French, Russian, American, German, and Japanese troops, which had fought its way through from Tianjin. The Boxer Uprising thus ended.
The Western powers and Japan agreed—mainly because of U.S. pressure to "preserve Chinese territorial and administrative integrity" and because of mutual jealousies among the powers—not to carry further the partition of China. Nevertheless, China was compelled (1901) to pay an indemnity of $333 million, to amend commercial treaties to the advantage of the foreign nations, and to permit the stationing of foreign troops in Beijing. The United States later (1908) used some of its share of the indemnity for scholarships for Chinese students. China emerged from the Boxer Uprising with a greatly increased debt and was, in effect, a subject nation.
See A. H. Smith, China in Convulsion (1901); G. N. Steiger, China and the Occident (1927); C. C. Tan, The Boxer Catastrophe (1955); P. Fleming, The Siege at Peking (1959); V. W. W. S. Purcell, The Boxer Uprising (1963); R. O'Connor, The Spirit Soldiers (1973).