Boxer Rebellion

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A Chinese nationalist uprising, in protest against the growing foreign encroachment into Chinese sovereignty. It took place against the background of foreign acquisition of bases on Chinese soil (such as Hong Kong and Macao), and the attempts of foreign imperialist powers to monopolize trade in the country. There was considerable resentment against the advent of ‘foreign’ Christianity through missionaries. The protest was triggered by the secret Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, popularly known as ‘Boxers’, which had strong links to the anti‐Western Imperial Court. In addition to attacks on missionaries, they occupied the foreign legations in Beijing (Peking). On 19 June 1900, they killed the German minister, Freiherr Clemens von Ketteler. Popular unrest followed in a number of cities, most notably in Tientsin.

The rebellion was brought under control when a foreign six‐nation expeditionary force freed the legations on 14 August. Some units then looted Beijing, while a separate punitive expedition was carried out by the Germans to avenge Ketteler's death. In 1901, the foreign powers imposed harsh terms on the imperial government in the Peking Protocol (1901). China was obliged to pay a compensation of the then staggering sum of £67 million ($330 million) in annual payments over 39 years. In addition, China was forced to allow foreign troops on its soil. This humiliation further increased Chinese nationalism, while fully exposing the weakness and incompetence of the Qing Manchu dynasty. These were prerequisites to the growth of the nationalist movement under Sun Yat‐sen, and the eventual Wuchang Revolution.

Subjects: History.

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