What was the Boxer Rebellion?

Wars in Asia Read more from
Chapter War and Conflict

It was a Chinese uprising in 1900, which was put down through the combined forces of eight foreign countries including Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. The Chinese-Japanese War (1894–95) had seriously weakened China, and in 1898 the country agreed to lease its Kiaochow region to Germany. Soon other European countries followed suit and before long Western influence was being felt in China. This angered many Chinese, including members of a secret society that opposed the Manchu government for having allowed the foreign incursions. This secret society was made up of athletic young men, and so they were called Boxers by China’s Westerners.

Between June 21 and August 14, 1900, Boxers rebelled against anything foreign and began a raid of the country that was intended to drive out all foreign influence. The uprising was aimed at not only Westerners and foreign diplomats, but missionaries, Chinese Christians, and any Chinese who were thought to support Western ideas. Houses, schools, and churches were burned. Much of the destruction took place in Beijing, and when foreign diplomats there called for help, it arrived from eight countries. The Manchu government did not welcome this interference in its affairs and promptly declared war on the eight nations.

On September 7, 1901, the Manchu government signed a peace settlement with the foreign countries. The Boxer Protocol called for China to punish officials who had been involved in the rebellion and pay damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The United States, Britain, and Japan later returned part of the money to China, specifying that it be used for educational purposes.


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