Boxer Uprising/Rebellion in China

December 10, 2017 | Author: Ramita Udayashankar | Category: Qing Dynasty, International Politics, China, Politics, Religion And Belief
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Boxer Uprising/Rebellion in China Nature Causes Impact...


BOXER REBELLION Introduction The Boxer Rebellion of 1900 was a major peasant uprising against imperialism. It was also called Yi Ho Tuan movement, a society of Righteousness and Harmony, which emerged and grew in China’s Shantung province. 'Boxer' is derived from boxing as many of the activists and revolutionaries practised Chinese martial arts, boxing being one of them. Although this movement's first targets were missionaries, who preached Christianity, the real aim was to fight imperialism. This violent, dramatic and earth shaking movement was the result of both the enslavement of the Chinese nation by foreign powers and also the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, which reforms at the political level could not prevent. Nature Scholars have used a variety of sources to understand the real nature of Boxer uprising, its impact and the response it evoked. These include:  Official publications of the foreign powers involved in China;  Missionary documents and writings;  Manuscripts of historians and other scholars in that period living in China;  The publication and documents of the Chinese Government All these put together provide a great deal of information. The Marxist-Leninist viewpoint regarding the outcome of the uprising is that a deliberate well planned conspiracy between domestic feudalism and external imperialism crushed the movement. The non-Marxist interpretation is that the failure of the Chinese system to modernize kept it a weak nation. Causes China had a strong anti-foreign tradition, whereby the foreigners were considered barbarians. After 1860, Western missionaries were given the right to preach Christianity throughout China and to rent or buy land for the construction of churches. The unwanted presence of these foreigners aroused Chinese anger. The scholar gentry hated the Western missionaries because of various reasons.

 Firstly, foreign missionaries seemed to be challenging the scholargentry's social leadership. The missionaries taught Western things, thereby competing with Chinese scholars as teachers. They carried out social welfare measures, which were originally conducted by the Chinese scholar-gentry. They could talk to Chinese officials as equals and demand to see high Chinese officials at any moment, a privilege that only the scholar-gentry enjoyed. They enjoyed special rights in law which previously only the Chinese scholar-gentry possessed.  Secondly, the missionaries told the Chinese people not to worship ancestors and not to take part in local festivals. In the eyes of the scholargentry, missionary teachings attacked China's tradition and culture.  Thirdly, Confucianism as a system of thought and religion was challenged by Christianity, since Western missionaries forbade Chinese believers to respect Confucius.  Fourthly, Western missionaries represented the products of foreign imperialism and national humiliations. As a result, the scholar-gentry often secretly and indirectly supported anti-foreign activities in society. They distributed books with antiChristian ideas and created an anti-foreign atmosphere. The ordinary people hated as well as feared foreign missionaries. As the missionaries used money to attract believers, many locally recruited Chinese Christians were bad people who joined the church just for a living. These Chinese Christians bullied the local people and committed crimes. In the eyes of local Chinese people, the Western church protected these crimes. Superstition among the people increased anti-foreign feelings. From 1870 to 1894, the Western powers adopted a "gunboat" policy in dealing with China: they used force to get what they wanted. After 1895, foreign imperialism in China grew quickly. On the social level, Western missionaries, especially the Catholics, often misused their treaty-rights in China. There were many occasions when Western missionaries interfered in local Chinese official affairs, either on behalf of the Chinese Christians or in order to win more believers. By 1900, the value of China's imports was four times that of her exports. This affected the Chinese economy.  Firstly, China's industries and commerce were destroyed by the inflow of cheap foreign goods like cotton clothes, which were sold 2/3rd cheaper. Consequently, unemployment was great in society, whereby the people suffered economically.

 Secondly, as the Qing dynasty was poor, it was forced to increase taxes, which therefore made the economic conditions of the people even worse. There were many natural disasters in late 19th century China. The Yellow River flooded in 1898. Shantung was hard hit. Hundreds of Shantung villages were badly affected. In 1900, there was a serious drought in most of North China. As it was believed that all these natural disasters were caused by the presence of the foreigners, anti-foreign feelings spread further. Technological advancements also played a role in the discontent which drove the uprising. Along with an increase of foreign power came the introduction of western infrastructure and technology, such as railroads and steam boats. Railroads were built throughout China and in some cases passed through burial grounds. This blatant disrespect for Chinese culture and history decreased the tolerance many peasants had for international interference. Both steam boats and railroads destroyed the carrying trade by introducing a new form of transportation. In areas on low employment, such as in Manchuria and Shantung where the carrying trade was one of the only means of work these advancements in technology resulted in loss income and livelihoods. The workers couldn’t compete with this faster more efficient transport and the dynamics of their trades and the economy was completely changed. Although technological and transportation advancements were crucial for the western world, when inflicted upon the traditional Chinese society it resulted in discontent and intolerance. Nationalism and the use of propaganda influenced the uprising as the Boxers’ support increased and the rebellion gained momentum. Things were spiralling out of control for the peasants especially in the Northern provinces of China as technological advancements, famine, drought, flooding and the spread of Christian missionaries increased. For the Boxers, this was the perfect opportunity to increase support for their cause through propaganda and nationalism. As their anti-foreign outlook escalated so did the availability of propaganda posters. The Boxers were managing to unite a country, from the peasants to the imperial government and the Empress Dowager. The Boxer Uprising originated in Shantung, which had to bear the brunt of the imperialist encroachments. Popular struggles against foreign churches took place in Shantung in 1896 led by Ta Tao Hui, a secret society which is also called Big Sword Society. This organization comprised of peasants, handicraftsmen, urban poor and unemployed wage labourers; while the basic unit was the ‘tao’ or shrine and consisted of

young men, teenage boys and many women. Each Boxer squad was formed of 10 fighters and 10 squads made up a brigade. In 1900, the Boxer movement spread to the Beijing area, where the Boxers killed Chinese Christians and Christian missionaries and destroyed churches and railroad stations and other property. On June 20, 1900, the Boxers began a siege of Beijing’s foreign legation district. The following day, Qing Empress Dowager Tzu’u Hzi declared a war on all foreign nations with diplomatic ties in China. As the Western powers and Japan organized a multinational force to crush the rebellion, the siege stretched into weeks, and the diplomats, their families and guards suffered through hunger and degrading conditions as they fought to keep the Boxers at bay. By some estimates, several hundred foreigners and several thousand Chinese Christians were killed during this time. On August 14, after fighting its way through northern China, an international force of approximately 20,000 troops from eight nations (Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) arrived to take Beijing and rescue the foreigners and Chinese Christians. The Boxer Rebellion formally ended with the signing of the Boxer Protocol on September 7, 1901. By terms of the agreement, forts protecting Beijing were to be destroyed, Boxer and Chinese government officials involved in the uprising were to be punished, foreign legations were permitted to station troops in Beijing for their defense, China was prohibited from importing arms for two years and it agreed to pay more than $330 million in reparations to the foreign nations involved. The Boxer episode ended but it revealed the shallowness of reforms which the Ch'ing Government had initiated as they could not save China from humiliation. The Western powers treated China devoid of all consideration and all understanding. Impact The Boxer uprising was a major peasant upheaval in the series of peasant revolts that had occurred periodically in Chinese history. This was a patriotic outburst of the North China, peasantry, accompanied by outbreaks in many other parts which signalled the birth of Chinese nationalism. It was directed first against Christian missionaries and converts and eventually a war was waged against the whole imperialist establishment. It was the result of impoverishment, suffering, untold miseries and mercilessness of the system. The Manchu Government's failure to satisfy the needs of the masses and its official and ruthlessness in dealing with its subjects alienated the people. Along with this,

imperialist encroachment upon China, stipulating it of all the dignity and prestige the mighty Empire once had contributed in the outburst. The imperialist power’s efforts to curb the movement through the Ch'ing Government failed as the latter took an ambivalent attitude towards it. The eight nation plan to initiate a military offensive was responded to by the Ch'ing Government through a declaration of war which turned out to be a feeble attempt if not a hoax. Soon peace negotiations started and the so-called Boxer Protocol was signed between the powers and the Ch'ing Government. In addition to extracting many concessions from the Chinese, this humiliating treaty stipulated a huge indemnity payment, an amount so large that paying it would drain the country of all its resources. Imperialist powers' disagreement amongst themselves saved China from partition. The people of China today hail the Boxer uprising as a revolutionary struggle. The Yi Ho Tuan was an organization of brave, sacrificing and patriotic people which inspired the spirit of nationalism. Bibliography Peasant Revolts in China 1840-1949 – Jean Chesneaux IGNOU Modern Europe (Mid 18th to Mid 20th Centuries) Boxer Rebellion Case Study The Chinese Boxer Rebellion by Shebra Sanders

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