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    China Chronology

    The Boxer Rebellion


    In every country, there is a fear of hostile takeover and ruling by foreign countries.  China's emperor's impatiently watched their land be taken over.  Their armies and technology were being destroyed on a daily basis.  This take over made the empress dowager of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Tsu Hs , very angry.  She looked for a way to get rid of "foreign parasites".  As a result, the northern peasants of China rebelled against Christian missionaries, diplomats and technology.  It was apparent that they did not want peace.  The peasants killed Christian missionaries and Chinese men undercover.  This secret group of men and women rebelling was known as the "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" or the Chinese word for that, Yihequan.  They received their name due to the fact that they practiced and performed martial arts and felt that they did not need weapons to help them in battle.  According to a website about the boxers, "their cause, at first, was to overthrow the imperial Ch'ing government and expel all "foreign devils" from China".  These "Boxers" spread through all over China in 1900 trying to protect their country.    The Boxer Rebellion focused mainly on protecting China from foreign influence. 

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    Unfortunately, while the empress of China was looking for a way to close China to foreign powers, Americans were looking for a way in.  The Secretary of State of America, John Hay, decided to negotiate with the other foreign powers.  He sent letters to the different countries suggesting an "Open Door" policy in China.  On a website about the Boxer Rebellion, this meant that all the countries would be guaranteed equal trading rights and it would "prevent one nation from discriminating against another one within its sphere".    The nations declared that they liked the idea of the Open Door Policy, however, they could not enforce it.  After that, Hay stated that since all of the powers had, in principle, accepted the Open Door Policy, the United States considered their agreement "final and definitive".  Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia were the main countries claiming to have trading rights in certain parts of China.  They were diving China into "spheres of influence" as they called it.

    Although the Boxer's were trying to overthrow her government at first, the empress realized that she could use them for her own good instead of fighting a battle to stop them and at the same time fighting against foreign powers.  Through her ministers, she began to encourage the Boxers to get rid of foreign powers, especially the United States.  As a result, a new slogan began to appear, "Support the Ch'ing; destroy the foreigner!"   Nervous foreign ministers insisted that's the Chinese Government stop the Boxers.  The empress told them that her troops would destroy the "rebellion".  Meanwhile, she left them as they were.       

    In the end, many foreign diplomats were killed and injured.  Most of the foreign countries retracted from China leaving them to themselves.  After China's capital was conquered and then taken back by China, the Boxer Uprising finally was settled.  An outcome of the negotiations was that the powers, by the Peace Protocol of September 7, 1901, were to leave to China alone. 


    Perkins, Dorothy, Encyclopedia of China (Dorothy Perkins and Roundtable Press, Inc, 1999)

    The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China (Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1991)

    Researched and Written by:
    Janet Barkhou
    History 2260: The Modern World
    September 7, 2003

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