Boxer Rebellion (義和団の乱)
The Boxer Rebellion was the disturbance that occurred at the end of the Qing dynasty in China. It was originally an anti-foreign movement by the secret society named the Boxers, but it became a war between nations after Empress Dowager Cixi supported this rebellion and declared a war against European nations and the United States in 1900. However, the forces of allied western powers took over the capital Beijing as well as the Forbidden City within two months of the proclamation of war, and the Qing dynasty was forced to pay an enormous amount of reparations. Empress Dowager Cixi acknowledged the need for post-war political reform involving western techniques, and started the new Guangxu government based on the Hundred Days' Reform that she had previously made to fail.
This document will use the unified term, "Boxer Rebellion," but there are different ways of referring to it such as Giwadan Jiken (the Boxer Uprising [the Righteous Harmony Society Movement]), Giwadan Jihen (Boxer Incident), and Hokushin Jihen (The North China Incident). It is also called Koshi Jihen (Koshi Incident) in China from the year when the war occurred based on the Oriental zodiac.
Background of the Boxer Rebellion
Christian missionary work at the end of the Qing dynasty.
Christianity was introduced to China during an early period, but by the end of the Qing dynasty it had still not gained many believers due to differences in customs and similar reasons. However, this changed due to the series of wars against powerful western European nations and the unequal treaties that followed. Missionary work was limited to the ports of treaty until that period, but the Treaty of Tianjin signed after the Arrow War (Second Opium War) allowed travel inland of the Qing dynasty (permit to propagate inland) and many foreign missionaries entered the country and went inland. As a result, Christianity gradually gained believers.
The foreign missionaries dealt with Chinese society with an attitude of missionary belief and the arrogance of those belonging to a winning nation, and they often ignored customs, leading to frequent clashes with local bureaucracy and Kyoshin (Chinese gentry). The presence of rice Christians (people who ate church meals) further complicated this situation. Peasants who suffered from natural disasters such as famine, and had nobody to turn to, found themselves being rescued by the charity work of missionaries and embraced Christianity, bringing with them a whole family or even a village. Even people who became socially weak due to the internal conflict within China at that time sought patronage and entered the faith, which contributed to the expanding influence of Christianity. For example, local and Hakka people frequently opposed each other, resulting in a dispute called the Punti–Hakka Clan War, but the local officials often suppressed the Hakka, and seeking help, all the Hakka became believers of Christianity. A recent study stated that some members of the Byakuren sect, which was the source of the Boxers, became believers of Christianity to avoid the oppression of officials. The composition of the conflict was definitely not simple.
Kyukyo Incident (the historical materials refer to it as '教案' [Kyoan]) was the feud or incident between the foreign missionary and their believers versus Kyoshin and common people. Specifically, many incidents developed from the missionaries entering conflicts over land boundaries between believers and common people, and antipathy towards the construction of churches. The historical documents began to mention the word 'Kyoan' from the 1860's and incidents occurred frequently along the Yangtze River in the 1890's. The outbreak of these incidents gradually build up antipathy toward the allied western powers. Despite being the same Chinese, believers were strongly protected due to the unequal treaty, and sometimes used military threats, so incidents usually ended to the church's favor. Commoners who were unsatisfied with the judgments of the local officials attacked the church, its priest, and believers, and often tried to resolve the situation with violence. Even the Zeng Guofan, who rendered distinguish service by subjugating the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, stated that even if foreigners were at fault, they must not make it a bigger deal by writing this in official records. Acknowledgement that foreigners were three ranks above the bureaucracy spread among commoners.
This opposition further increased the spread of superstitions and rumors that often occur when encountering foreign cultures. The rumors suggested that missionaries put street orphans into an orphanage to extract their organs for use as medical ingredients, and such like.
These frequent Kyukyo Incidents built antipathy toward Western Europe and Christianity and spread the loss of trust toward the bureaucracy and Kyoshin (those who worked under government officials), who were obliged to bow to the foreigners demands.
The mergence of the Boxers and the situation of Shandong Province
The Boxers, who became the main participants of the war, originated from Shandong Province. The advancement of the German Empire became noticeable in Shandong Province at the end of the 19th century and the Kyukyo Incidents occurred alongside it. Germany regarded the Shandong Province with great interest not only due to the presence of Qufu City, which was the birthplace of Confucius, but from the perspective of the Christian missionary work. The enthusiastic missionary work in Shandong Province brought about anti-foreign emotions among the people that increased with time.
Because the Boxers were Haijoteikai (the predecessor) of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, their united origin cannot be specified. Perhaps because of this, there are theories stating that they originated from Byakuren sect, and another which claimed that they were a vigilante committee with the official recognition of local officials. The following is based on a theory fairly well supported in Japan as well as in China.
There was a military organization called Daitokai or long sword society originally in Shandong. At first, this organization captured robbers and handed them over to government offices, and was characteristic of a vigilante committee in that it maintained security and defended the territory. It eventually became involved in the land dispute between the Catholic church and common people. They attacked the Catholic side, destroying churches and murdering priests in 1897 (Soushukyoan). The Qing dynasty suppressed them after receiving protests from Germany, and the situation temporarily cooled down. However, their power spread to the northwestern part of Shandong Province in 1899 and they merged with the school called Divine Fist.
In addition, a conflict between the local military organization and Christians occurred in other areas of Shandong. It was caused by common people seeking help from the Plum Blossom Martial Art school after receiving unfair judgment over a land dispute regarding the building of a church. The plum blossom martial art gathered three thousand members of the school and attacked the church in 1897. They later changed the name to 'Giwa Martial Art' (former name of the Boxers) in order to prevent the trouble spreading to the whole Plum Blossom Martial Art, which has a long history. This meant that people other than practitioners of Plum Blossom Martial Art started to participate in the anti-Christianity movement. As the anti-Christianity movement spread, groups from various areas merged together, becoming the Giwa Martial Art.
The martial art organization previously mentioned started to have very strong sect like characteristics and practiced shamanistic ceremonies within the group. Many of the characters within "Journey to the West" and "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" such as Goku SON, Zhuge Liang, and Zhao Yun, were worshipped as deities. They were popular in plays, which was the entertainment of common people. The Boxers declared that the people who possessed them became immortal beings who could repel not only swords but bullets too.
The spread of the Giwa Martial Art force was rapid, like the flame of a burning field, but one reason was that local high officers were reluctant to put them under control. Ikuken, who was the junbu (local government official) of Shandong Province and was sympathetic to Giwa Martial Art since their attacks targeted only institutions related to Christianity, dismissed 蒋楷, the government official of Pingyuan County in Shandong Province who tried to suppress the Boxers, and even tried to acknowledge Giwa Martial Art as a danren (a vigilance committee of local community).
Giwa Martial Art' became known as 'the Boxers' under these circumstances, and the following paragraphs will use the term 'the Boxers.'
Ikuken was reassigned due to the demands of the powerful European nations and the United States, and YUAN Shikai was assigned to suppress the Boxers at the end of 1899. However, this led to the Boxers spreading outside Shandong Province.
Movements of the Boxers
The Boxers were expelled from Shandong Province and shifted to Zhili Province (current Hebei Province and Beijing City), and the land between Beijing and Tianjin cities became full of Boxers. Zhili Province had a greater amount of jobless and refugees from natural disasters than Shandong Province, so Boxers absorbed them and expanded fast. They eventually targeted not only foreigners and Chinese Christians, but merchants that handled foreign goods, and even railways and electricity lines, and began to attack one after another. Because of this, Beijing and Tianjin effectively became cut off.
There were several groups within the Boxers led by some famous leaders such as 王成徳, 宋福恒, and Zhang Decheng, and each managed several thousand Boxers members. There was even an unique Boxer group consisting only of female members. It was called 'Hong Deng Zhao' (Red Lantern). Its chieftain was called 'Lin Heier' and she was said to be a former prostitute.
The Boxers were permitted to go on rampages in neighborhoods of the capital Beijing, but the massive scale of the Boxers was just one reason for this. The Qing dynasty tried to suppress them due to strong interference by the powerful western European nations, but there were several high officials, like the former Ikunen, who were sympathetic to the Boxers' pro-Qing slogan, 'Support Qing, destroy the foreigners' and 'Revive Qing, destroy the foreigners'. Even Empress Dowager Cixi was the same in resenting the powerful countries, and was lenient when handling the Boxers. One theory states that there were over 200,000 Boxers in Beijing.
The Boxers began to rampage as if it was justified, and the unexpected situation brought panic to the Qing dynasty. However, the Qing dynasty was cornered when a secretary of the Japanese Embassy was assassinated by the soldiers of Tofukusho that guarded Beijing after being dispatched from Gansu Province in June 1900, and Klemens von Ketteler of the envoy of German Empire, was killed several days later by Boxers.
Progress toward the 'proclamation of war'
The Qing dynasty's 'proclamation of war' toward the allied western powers was often debated alongside the search for the origin of the Boxers. The proclamation was decided after holding four conferences in the presence of the empress in order to determine how to handle the Boxers as well as the powerful allied nations.
Why was such an obviously reckless decision made?
It was certainly partly driven by emotions such as rage, but historical study will not accept unintelligent arguments such as simply the "'proclamation of war' was equal to lunacy".
The following arguments will be listed as reasons for the 'proclamation of war.'
The Taku Forts problem: The most certain of these was the Taku Fort problem. The Taku Forts were set up at the mouth of the Hai River for the defense of naval vessels traveling upriver to Beijing and Tianjin cities. The allied western powers demanded that the forts be handed over by May 20 but they attacked and reduced them to rubble after the Qing dynasty refused. The fact that the allied western powers used force despite not being at war or being conquered by Boxers motivated the anti-foreign war party within the Qing dynasty and led to the decision made by Empress Dowager. Furthermore, what drove the Qing dynasty to the 'proclamation of war' was the ongoing interference in the administration of justice such as the previous Kyukyo Incident, and oppression by powerful western nations demanding Shandong Province's junbu (government official title that existed from Ming to Qing dynasty) be handed over (this was described by Gangyi as the 'build up of anger over generations of reign').
The 'reference' problem: This 'reference' was the document from the allied western powers demanding the retirement of Empress Dowager, and she decided to declare war after being enraged by it. However, this 'reference' was a forgery. It is believed that it was forged by someone belonging to the war party of Qing dynasty or a Aisin-Gioro Saii party, and it was designed to push the indecisive Empress Dowager towards war.
Power struggle within the Qing dynasty: a plan to get rid of the Emperor Guangxu, who supported the Hundred Day's Reform, was progressing within the Qing imperial court. The plan was hindered by the powerful western nations, Li Hongzhang, and some imperial princes, so the Boxers were used to remove these groups. While placing Boxers against the allied western powers, they criticized Li Hongzhang for compromising with the allied western powers.
Dispatch of the First Allied Forces
The allied forces of the western powers were planning to intervene with military force from the end of May after receiving the request of envoys stationed in Beijing. Around two thousand members of the allied forces led by Vice Admiral Edward Hobart Seymour of the British marines headed for Beijing at the beginning of June by repairing and marching along the Beijing-Tianjin Railway (Beijing to Tianjin) but this proved to be slow, and progress was hindered by the Boxers as well as 甘軍 of the official Qing dynasty army led by Dong Fuxiang at Langfang, and they were forced to retreat to Tianjin. In other words, the allied western powers dispatched an army to China and implemented a clean up operation of the Boxers even before proclamation of war by the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty criticized the attack of Taku Fort at Tianjin as 'impolite rampancy' on June 17 and it became one of the important motives for the proclamation of war.
The organization of the Second Allied Forces and participation in the war by the Japanese Army
Eight allied western powers dispatched an army to suppress the Boxers: Great Britain, the United States of America, the Russian Empire, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Kingdom of Italy, and the Empire of Japan. Guthrie, who was a German, became the supreme commander.
It was a mixed army consisting of slightly less than 20,000 soldiers, but Japan and Russia dispatched the most soldiers. This was because nations other than Japan and Russia could not dispatch many military forces to China as they had their own various problems. Great Britain was at war against Holland in South Africa (Boer Wars) so they in particular did not have many surplus soldiers, so they requested Japan to dispatch their soldiers instead, which is why they sent a great number of soldiers. In addition, the United States was in the middle of Philippine-American War so, like Great Britain, they only dispatched a small number of soldiers.
Japan dispatched the Fifth Division of the Imperial Japanese Army (around 8000 members) led by Yasumasa FUKUSHIMA, under the order of Minister of the Army Taro KATSURA. Yasumasa FUKUSHIMA was assigned to be the commander as he was fluent in English, French, German, Russian and Chinese, and because of his experience having just returned from a trip to observe Russia and the Qing dynasty.
There were various expectations held for this dispatched Japanese army. It was of course for the protection of the legation, but other main objectives included expansion of Japanese interests in China, establishing Japanese advantage at the Korean Peninsula by defeating the Qing dynasty, and restrainment of Russia which was sending a great army just like Japan, and Japan also dispatched troops alongside the allied western powers to show its presence as the 'military policeman of the Far East' (in order to correct the unequal treaty).
The transition of war
The first crucial event for the allied forces was the capture of Taku Fort and Tianjin. The official army of Qing dynasty was attacking the Concession (foreigners in China holding autonomy or extraterritoriality), but the frontal army of Chinese imperial guard division led by Nie Shicheng, and the left Chinese imperial guard division led by Bagyokukon, clashed with allied forces and the Qing dynasty side was defeated during the battle. Nie Shicheng died in battle as a result and Tianjin was conquered several days later on July 14. Yuroku, who was the Governor General of Zhili, took responsibility for the lost battle and committed suicide. There were supposedly 4000 dead bodies of the Boxers and the Qing dynasty soldiers on top of the south gate of Tianjin Castle.
Furthermore, the allied forces started to march toward Beijing on March 4 but moved slowly since the pace of each nation did not match. The contradicting military strategies and the difference in the enthusiasm of each army toward the battle were causes, but it was mainly due to lack of basic agreement about whether to arrive in Beijing early or not. While Great Britain and Japan stressed that embassies should be freed before arrival, there was a view that progressing toward Beijing would strengthen the resentment of the Qing dynasty and the Boxers towards embassies instead. There also was one nation that planned military intervention on a much bigger scale by using the Boxers to increasing confusion in the Qing dynasty. At any rate, the allied forces marched slowly causing further trouble to those in Beijing waiting to be rescued, and they were later criticized for this.
The military capability of the Boxers and the Qing dynasty army
There were several severe battles, but looking at the whole campaign, the allied forces were relatively untroubled. While the Qing dynasty army and Boxers had more soldiers than the allied army, they were under-equipped with weapons. The exceptions were Taku Fort, the frontal army of Chinese imperial guard division of Nie Shicheng, and the modern left Chinese imperial guard division led by Bagyokukon, but they could not operate smoothly since many soldiers were unfamiliar with their weapons. There were some who 'accidentally exploded their own bombs, and because of this, the Qing dynasty army could not resist the allied army. Seven hundred dead bodies of the enemy (Qing dynasty army, improved by a writer) were said to be lying around' (the review of Japanese army concerning offense and defensive battle of Taku Fort); they were not able to utilize modern weapons due to lack of training and destroyed themselves with explosions in some cases. The weapons the Boxers had were mostly swords and spears and only a few had firearms.
The Boxers failed to reach the level of a military organization, and even the Qing dynasty army lacked leadership and was not united, being described as old-fashioned by the Japanese army. However, the Japanese army did not look down upon them, and stated 'everyone stood with their own two feet and strongly resisted with portable weapons from the Qing dynasty such as swords, spears, and muzzle loaders, and they were brave enough to make our army have a difficult time at battles' indicating that they had strong morale. However, morale could not compensate for underprepared battle operations and equipment, and this stance brought about great casualties; most of the dead and injured in this battle were Boxers or soldiers of the Qing dynasty.
The attack of Beijing
The allied forces began to attack Beijing on August 14 and it fell the next day. The military force consisted of the Eight Banners and Beiyang army as well as 40,000 soldiers, but many soldiers were already lost at the time of the battle of the castle, having been killed in battle or having lost the will to fight and fled when being defeated by the allied forces invading from Tianjin. An occupation system was in place for over a year after the occupation of Beijing.
Looting by allied forces began just after the occupation, and many of the treasures of the Forbidden City supposedly flowed out of China due to this. Cultural heritages such as the residences of royal aristocrats and the Summer Palace were looted, victimized by arson, destroyed, and a market even opened for the loot in order to exchange it for money.
The Japanese army went before other armies to retrieve the spoils of war and suppressed Zongli Yamen and the Ministry of Revenue (Ministry of Finance government office) and seized about 2,914,800 taels of bateigin (the Japanese term for Chinese boat-shaped silver or gold ingots called sycee in English) and 320,000 koku (a unit of volume of rice, 1 koku equals 180.39 liters) of brown rice. As a result, they gained the most spoils of war among the allied nations. This was due to the order of the intelligence officer Goro SHIBA, who will be mentioned again later.
Leaving the capital of Xi'an City
Empress Dowager Cixi disguised herself as a poor peasant and escaped before Beijing was conquered, stopping at Datong City, Shanxi Province, before finally arriving at Xi'an in October. Since she had previously escaped from the capital to Rehe Province, she had to flee from the capital twice in her lifetime.
She made her nephew Emperor Guangxu accompany her flight from the capital, but had his concubine Imperial Consort Zhen assassinated by ordering eunuchs to push her down the well behind Ningxia Palace of the Forbidden City. She made Emperor Guangxu accompany her fearing that if she left him behind in Beijing direct imperial rule may be revived with the support of the allied western powers. She ordered the assassination of Imperial Consort Zhen, who she considered to be dangerous, because Zhen had all of Emperor Guangxu's affection, and because Zhen reminded the Empress of her own youthful days, and she wanted to prevent Zhen from becoming the second Empress Dowager. The corpse of Imperial Consort Zhen was pulled out of the well by the Japanese army.
The occupation of Beijing by the allied forces continued for one year, but Empress Dowager Cixi detested this and did not try to return. She resided in Xi'an for a whole year, then returned to Beijing using a railway in January 1902. It is said that this was the first time she rode a train.
The path Empress Dowager Cixi and Guangxu Emperor took during their escape and return journey is shown on the following diagram 'Beijing Legation Quarter.'
The beginning of the siege
The proclamation of war by the Qing Dynasty resulted in the isolation of foreigners and Chinese Christians living in the Qing dynasty. The foreign envoys and Chinese Christians living in Beijing in particular were faced with a very tense state of affairs. There were about 925 foreigners and three thousand Chinese Christians of various age and gender who escaped to the legation area southeast of the Forbidden City called Beijing Legation Quarter at that time. However, the total of defending soldiers from each nation's legation and military volunteers was just 481.
They were told to leave China within 24 hours on June 19, and attacks began immediately the following day. They were besieged for about two months before the Eight-Nation Alliance force occupied Beijing on August 14. Well known people among the besieged were Pelliot, who was a famous Chinese scholar, Robert Hart, who resided in China for a long period as the Inspectorate General of Customs, George Ernest Morrison, Unokichi HATTORI, Naoki KANO, and Teikichi KOJO.
It is said that the presence of the Japanese Goro SHIBA was important during this siege, and he contributed greatly to the defensive success. Goro SHIBA held the rank of lieutenant colonel of artillery, and was transferred to the post of military officer of the Beijing legation in the Qing Dynasty. The group of besieged was the meeting place of every nation, so mutual agreement was an important issue, and Goro SHIBA, who had multi-language skills in English, French, and Chinese, took part in negotiations and contributed greatly to the understanding of all parties. The general leader of this besieged group was the British envoy Claude MacDonald but the actual leader during the siege was Goro SHIBA (since he was the most senior military officer), and he received much praise from not only Japanese but also European and US parties after the release. He was the younger brother of Sanshi TOKAI (real name Shiro SHIBA), who was famous as the author of political literature of Meiji Era, "Kajin no Kigu" (Chance Encounters with Beautiful Women).
The Siege of Beijing cannot be understood with just a simple diagram of Chinese versus foreigners. Many Chinese Christians escaped into the legation area as mentioned before, and it cannot be denied that they played many important roles during the siege. They not only participated in the battle, but also in patrols, defense construction, fire extinguishment, rescuing of casualties, and conducted secret communication with the outside (allied forces), and even Goro SHIBA reflected, 'if there were no Christians to rescue us, we could not have maintained the government of Prince Su with our small number of soldiers' and 'the mission succeeded due to the trust of many Chinese'. They would have been treated as Hanjian (traitors) and faced misfortune if we revealed it so we did not report it back then." In other words, they were sustained during the siege because Japanese, Europeans, Americans, and Chinese united without big conflict, preventing an internal debacle.
The attitude of the Qing dynasty toward war
The greatest cause of the siege's success was the Qing dynasty's inconsistent attitude toward war. While they made a 'proclamation of war' from the order of Empress Dowager Cixi, from the start the Qing dynasty had no conviction that they would win against the allied western powers. At least, Ronglu and others who had a negative attitude toward war were thinking so. As a result, they were reluctant to massacre people held within the legation area when considering the retribution of allied forces after losing the war. Goro SHIBA also felt those differences in opinion in the surrounding area, and stated after the release that 甘軍 of Gansu Province seriously considered terminating the siege, and the division under the direct control of Ronglu shot but made very few attacks.
As shown in the diagram on the right, the lines of defense at the government of Prince Su and at the French embassy gradually retreated, but the line of defense at the side of British Embassy, where the families of the envoy of each nation escaped to, changed very little. The envoy Tokujiro NISHI, who was under siege with SHIBA, stated, "The Qing government lacked its former decisiveness," and the Qing dynasty was also confused about the treatment of the group of envoys, and could not made a harsh decision within the two months of besiegement. It could be said that envoys were placed in the middle of a tug-of-war between the resistance and peace parties of the Qing dynasty. Some modern studies state that the Qing dynasty was planning to keep people of the legation alive as hostages and use them to make profitable diplomatic deals.
The end of the siege
While there were surprise and night attacks by the Qing dynasty army, there were periods of cease-fire in between and people were able to rest while the group of envoys and Qing dynasty held meetings. There was a mild cease-fire that continued for several days from July 17th to the fall of Beijing, and they were able to supply food and ammunitions that were facing shortages. The offensive movement of the Qing dynasty army strengthened once again between August 11 to 14, but reinforcements finally arrived during the afternoon of August 14 to end the besiegement that lasted slightly less than 2 months.
This besiegement brought casualties to all nations. There were 925 foreigners besieged, but there were only twenty resulting deaths. Since the Japanese were assigned to defend the government of Prince Su which was attacked strongly, they suffered the highest ratio of casualties among the nations. 18 Chinese Christians died.
The proclamation of the 'Southeast Mutual Protection Movement'
We will go back in time a little. When Empress Dowager Cixi made a "proclamation of war" to make her stance toward the allied western powers clear, some influential bureaucracy in the local provinces such as Liu Kunyi, who was the Viceroy of Liangjiang, Zhang Zhidong, who was the Viceroy of Huguang, and Li Hongzhang, who was the Viceroy of Liangguang, stated that the above order was a forgery and refused to participate in suppressing the Boxers. They also made an agreement with the embassy of the allied western powers called the 'Southeast Mutual Protection Movement' and tried to limit civil disorder of the Boxers to the northern region of China. To be exact, Sheng Xuanhuai and Zhang Jian made a great effort between high local officials and the embassy of each nation, and agreed to Article 9 of '保護南省商教章程' and Article 10 of '保護上海租界城廂章程' to promise the protection of the lives and finances of foreigners unless the allied western powers invaded.
This 'article' was established since the interests of the high local officials such as the governor-general and Junbu of southeastern China and the allied western powers matched.
In other words, the local high officials of the Qing dynasty conspired to make the interests of the provinces a priority and took a first step to make sure that the influence of the Boxers would not reach their areas.
The resolute servants reported to the throne to demand impeachment since this was obviously something that went against the orders of Empress Dowager Cixi, but she did not give out a special punishment. This was because it acted as insurance for Empress Dowager Cixi. With a tacit understanding of the 'Southeast Mutual Protection Movement,' this was one of the political bargains she made in case the war with the allied western powers looked threatening, so as to not be persecuted for complete responsibility of a lost battle. Empress Dowager Cixi was not persecuted for the Boxer Rebellion as described later.
From 'Support Qing, Destroy the Foreigners' to 'Overthrow Qing, Destroy the Foreigners'
After the fall of Beijing, the attitude of the Qing Dynasty did an about-face. They gave out the order for punishment on August 20, and called the Boxers 'Kenpi' or 'Danpi' and labeled it as a rebel army. From then on, the Boxers had to fight even the Qing Dynasty as an enemy. The Boxers who had the slogan of 'Rescue the Qing Dynasty and Defeat Western Europe' lost their hope in the Qing dynasty and changed it to 'Overthrow Qing, Destroy the Foreigners' (There were other versions such as 'flatten Qing' or 'oppose Qing'). The biggest reason for this was that the Qing dynasty was forced into paying huge reparations by the Boxer Protocol (Xinchou Protocol; Xinchou was a name of the year in Chinese Sexagenary cycle), and had to pass this burden on to commoners.
The suppression of the Boxers
A further several ten thousand soldiers led by General Field Marshal Alfred von Waldersee from Germany were dispatched to the allied force in September 1900 after the occupation of Beijing, and when he became Allied Supreme Commander, he began a clean up operation around Beijing similar to repetitive punishment. There were a total of 78 hunts for Boxers by all nations, and these were conducted across a vast region of Shanhaiguan and Baoding cities, to the neighboring area of the border line of Shanxi and Zhili Provinces. Most of the sweep-up operation was performed by Germany, which did about half of it.
Furthermore, Russia planned to occupy Manchuria and advanced forward. When the Boxers occupied Blagoveshchensk along the Amur River in June, Russia destroyed Sixty-Four Villages East of the River of the Chinese Residency area within Russia and occupied Tosansho (literally three provinces of the east) (Manchuria) by moving the army south. This later became the trigger for the Russo-Japanese War. As apparent from the table on the right, there were actually more soldiers dispatched after the fall of Beijing and at the peak totaled 71,920 soldiers. The aim was to establish and expand power in the Qing dynasty after the Boxer Rebellion.
Casualties from the Boxer Rebellion
The allied forces dispatched many soldiers as mentioned above, but how many casualties were there?
According to calculations by the Japanese army, the number of dead over the whole period totaled up to 757, and 2654 were injured. Japan faced with more casualties than any other country (349 dead and 933 injured). Furthermore, 241 people (53 Catholics and 188 Protestants) such as missionaries and fathers of the church, and 23,000 Chinese Christians were killed by the Qing dynasty and the Boxers. Meanwhile, the number of casualties of the Qing Dynasty and the Boxers lacks valid statistics, but it can be assumed a huge number of casualties were produced over the one year war period because the Japanese army stated that there were about 4000 dead bodies just from the attack of Tianjin.
Please refer to Boxer Protocol for more details.
Empress Dowager Cixi gave out an imperial order to suppress the Boxers in the midst of fleeing from Beijing, but instructed Li Hongzhang to compromise with the allied western powers at the same time. We will quote the following words which later became famous. "Measure the amount of resources in China and win the favor of the allies" (if the social status of Qing Dynasty (and the Dowager Empress) could be guaranteed, do it regardless of expenses). The negotiations with the allied western powers were carried out by Aisin-Gioro Yìkuāng and Li Hongzhang, who came back to power as Governor General of Zhili and superintendent of trade for the northern ports, but being the losing nation he was obliged to the allied western powers, and met demands with very strict conditions. It also meant compensation for Empress Dowager Cixi maintaining her social status.
The responsibility for the Boxer Rebellion was placed on Zaiyi or Prince Duan, several resolute senior vassals including Gangyi, and 50 local high officials, who were either executed or deported. The most severe part of the treaty made on September 7, 1901 was the amount of reparations. While the annual revenue of the Qing Dynasty was slightly more than 88 million taels, the reparation was 450 million taels, rising to 980 million taels with interest. Disapproval of this treaty spread among citizens and the 'Overthrow Qing, Destroy the Foreigners' slogan that was hostile to the Qing dynasty started to spread among non-Boxers.
Influence 1: Influence within China
Obviously, the Boxer Rebellion had various effects within and outside the nation. We will first discuss its effects within the nation.
1. The abolition of Zongli Yamen (government offices) and establishment of the Foreign Office. As these were included within the Boxer Protocol, they occurred due to strong demands from each of the powerful nations. After the Arrow War, various foreign nations felt frustrated with the falling social status of Zongli Yamen, which had become burdened with the diplomacy that the Qing dynasty placed great importance on, and as a result Zongli Yamen was abolished and replaced with the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office was considered to be an organization that stood above other authorities.
2. The beginning of the New Guangxu Government. Empress Dowager Cixi reformed her anti-foreign attitude after returning to Beijing, and started to show tolerance toward western cultures by beginning to learn English despite being close to 70 years old. The most typical example of change in policy was the introduction of the New Guagxu Government. The aims included transition toward a constitutional monarchy, modernization of the army, economic advancement, and reformation of education through the abolishment of Kakyo (examinations for Chinese state bureaucrats), pointing in the same direction as the Hundred Day's Reform of Kang Youwei that Empress Dowager crushed several years ago. The Boxer Protocol swept away the strong resistance of conservative factions including Gangyi, against Western European influence, which had a great influence on this.
3. The frontal army of Chinese imperial guard division of Nie Shicheng and the appearance of Yuan Shikai with the abolishment of Beiyang army. The modernized army directly under the control of Governor General of Zhili lost against the allied nations and received great damages during the Boxer Rebellion, but the army of Yuan Shikai only suppressed the Boxers and did not directly participate in the war against the powerful nations, and so suffered very little damage. As a result, its presence held great influence within the Qing dynasty. At the same time, Yuan Shikai enjoyed 'good fortune' with the consecutive deaths of powerful people of the Qing dynasty such as Li Hongzhang, Liu Kunyi, and Ronglu, so Shikai, who led the Qing dynasty's only elite troops, used this effectively as a political tool. It became the driving force for Yuan Shikai to be promoted to Governor General of Zhili as the successor to Li Hongzhang, the President of Republic of China after the Xinhai Revolution, and Empire of China (1915-1916) (Emperor of Hongxian). Additionally, Yuan Shikai, who was a member of the Han race, held the greatest military power in the weakened Qing dynasty, and this in itself eventually brought about unrest and confrontation between the Manchu and Han ethnic groups.
4. The half-colonization status of China. The Boxer Protocol permitted foreign troops to be stationed at Beijing and Tianjin, and the Qing dynasty had to accept foreign control of financial affairs (custom tariff, 常関税, and salt tax were held as a guarantee until payment) due to the massive reparations, and the Republic of China was not set up as an independent nation, instead becoming a 'half-colony'. Allowing foreign troops to be stationed in Beijing eventually triggered the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
5. Growing distrust of the Qing dynasty. The biggest influence was that the people's dissatisfaction was aimed not toward the allied western powers, but the Qing dynasty itself. This meant that the countdown to the fall of the Qing dynasty had begun. At the 'proclamation of war', Empress Dowager declared "our country of China has been gradually weakened. All we can rely on now is the heart of the people," but she simply cut ties with the Boxers after the fall of Beijing, and commoners lost trust in the attitude of the Empress and the Qing dynasty. The ultimate reason why people gave up on the Qing dynasty was the fact that a huge load was imposed upon commoners in order to pay the huge reparation determined by the Boxer Protocol. Each time Sun Yat-sen tried and failed to start a revolution in China, people around him sneered at his recklessness. However, people could not simply stand by and watch after the Boxer Rebellion, and gradually they began to actively support Sun Yat-sen. In other words, the Boxer Rebellion was an important development in the lead-up to the Xinhai Revolution.
Influence 2: Influences on the world and East Asia
The following are influences of China on foreign countries, followed by influences of foreign countries on China.
1. The intensification of confrontation between Russia and Japan and the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. Each nation dispatched soldiers in order to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, but a tangible confrontation developed between Japan and Russia. The occupation of Manchuria by the Russian army and their unethical military movements greatly worried each nation and was enough to make Japan feel threatened over its interest in Korea. England also started to show interest in Japan in order to protect its own interest in China, and this led to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902. There was support for this alliance from Morrison, who admired the Japanese Army.
2. Reduced demands regarding cession of territory. The Qing dynasty faced the greatest danger of 'partition' (division of China) since the Sino-Japanese War but this crisis lessened due to the Boxer Rebellion. The allied army showed extreme strength during battles, but they found occupation challenging, and were made aware of the difficulty in conquering Chinese territory. Those thoughts of the allied nations were put in a nutshell with the words of Allied Supreme Commander Waldersee, "It would prove difficult to conquer even a quarter of the Chinese people, even with all the allied powers combined." Those nations that aimed for control of territory were exceptions. They were Russia and Japan. Russia's occupation of Manchuria led to the Russo-Japanese War, and when Japan won, their ambition moved up a level and they pushed on towards the Sino-Japanese War.
On the other hand, the Christian church reestablished the arrogance that had brought antipathy from people since the Boxer Rebellion. They abstained from court trials that they were actively involved in, and their teaching plan gradually lessened.
3. Build up to the High Treason Incident. While at first it seems an unrelated incident, some research has regarded Bateigin Incident that occurred during the Boxer Rebellion as the remote cause of Kotoku Incident or High Treason Incident in 1910. The Bateigin Incident refers to the suspicion that dispatched troops embezzled silver ingots of the Qing called bateijgin. In other words, the Japanese Army bragged about its highly disciplined army both within it and outside, but this was not actually true, as vehemently pursued by a journalist of "Yorozuchoho" called Shusui KOTOKU. This was the Bateigin Incident. Due to a series of articles on this topic, Aritomo YAMAGATA resented Shusui KOTOKU, and this led to the severe measures of KOTOKU's execution.
Before the historical review, we will discuss how the Boxer Rebellion was viewed at that time.
1. The review during the Boxer Rebellion. When talking about the world at the time of the Boxer Rebellion, the theory of social evolution often plays a prominent role as an ideology, describing a binomial confrontation between civilization and barbarianism. The west and the non-west were forcibly compared using this binomial opposition, with an implicit understanding of hierarchical rank applied. Moving from lower to higher rank or moving from non-western (barbaric) to western (civilized) was interpreted as 'evolution' or 'improvement'. The anti-Christian way or anti-western 'evil deeds' of the Boxers were not in line with a 'civilization', and as word of these barbaric acts spread across the world, China was severely criticized.
However, among the people who understood the situation in China there were those that gave words of sympathy toward the Boxer Rebellion, and some saw through to the significance of the Boxer Rebellion. For example, the Austro-Hungarian ambassador Arthur von Rosthorn, who had to undergo the siege of Beijing stated, "if I were Chinese, I would have become a member of Boxers," and R. Hart stated that the appearance of the Boxers heralded the dawn of nationalism. Even Yubi AOYAGI (Yubi) wrote 'The Pro-Argument for the Boxers' ("Yubishu" published by Bunmei-do in 1904) in Japan and showed sympathy with Boxers.
2. The Boxer Rebellion in Historical Studies. While it is agreed that the Boxer Rebellion had a large influence on Chinese and world history, a final evaluation of the Boxer Rebellion has yet to be determined, and criticism differs in regions such as China, Japan, Europe, and the US, and some Chinese researcher have similar arguments to Europe and the US, but differ in opinions. What differed greatly was evaluation of the nature of the Boxers. China and Japan perceived the Boxers as a nationalistic movement against the doctrine of the West and the Japanese empire, but it was interpreted as a reckless anti-foreign movement that attacked foreigners in nations such as the United States (by Esherick, Cohen, and others).
The former argued that while the Boxers were resisting Christian groups (missionaries and Chinese Christians) they saw their various privileges (administration or justice) firsthand, became aware that they were derived from the empire doctrine, and started the opposition movement. However, researchers from Europe and the US emphasized that Boxers were unaware of the empire doctrine, and the anti-foreign movement was born from simple xenophobia. They also disagreed over whether the Boxers had patriotic doctrines or not. There was no agreement concerning whether the Boxers held the concept of national modernism or the exact implication of 'Qing' used in 'Support Qing, destroy the foreigners' or 'Overthrow Qing, destroy the foreigners' slogans. In other words, each debater has a different opinion on whether the Boxers had a patriotic doctrine or were the stimulant for nationalism.
An anecdote about the Boxer Rebellion
Prince Su, Shanqi and Naniwa KAWASHIMA
During the siege of Beijing, the Japanese army defended the government of Prince Su, which was the residence of Aisin-Gioro Shanqi. He had a strong relationship with Japan, especially with Naniwa KAWASHIMA, and Shanqi's daughter was later adopted by Kawashima (her Japanese name was Yoshiko KAWASHIMA). This Kawashima successfully negotiated the surrender of the Forbidden City without blood during the Boxer Rebellion. Prince Su and Naniwa KAWASHIMA later cooperated with each other while assisting with the independent movement of Manchuria, but their fates crossed from the Boxer Rebellion.
The return of reparations. There was international criticism and reflection regarding the severe demands for reparations, and each nation that received reparations returned it in various forms. For an example, the United States established Tsinghua University (from 1911) in Beijing with the reparations. This university grew to be a prestigious institution representing China along with Peking University and is even now reputed to be at the top in the field of science.
Japan decided to use a part of the reparation in the Eastern Cultural Project in 1922 and reported to the Chinese side. The department of cultural affairs with China was established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan, and the 'General Committee of Eastern Cultural Project' also began. Furthermore, they assisted groups that dealt with the progress of Japanese and Chinese relations such as Toa-dobunkai nationalism group, Dojinkai, the Institute of Japan and China, the Japanese group residing in China, and Chinese students studying abroad in Japan. Furthermore, examples of the achievements can be seen in the academic research institutions that continue even today. This applied to the establishment of Beijing Institute for the study of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shanghai Natural Science Laboratories, and Academy of Oriental Culture. The Academy of Oriental Culture was later reorganized as the Institute of Advanced Studies on Asia of Tokyo University and Eastern Section, Institute for Research in Humanities Kyoto University. Eastern Section, Institute for Research in Humanities Kyoto University is located inside a beautiful western style building like a Christian church near Ginkaku-ji Temple in Higashiyama, and the tower has stained glass windows. However, one cannot enter the tower without permission.
The destruction and outflow of national cultural treasures, and the Japanese antique trade. The one year long occupation of Beijing by the Eight-Nation Alliance resulted in Chinese national treasures flowing out of country due to looting and fraud. The emperor's palace itself avoided looting, but most of the Temples of Heaven and products of culture stored in Wangfu were damaged. The European and American armies that conquered Beijing looted many sacred documents but did not understand their value, so many were treated roughly and damaged. For example, the Imperial Archives that stored the "True Record" (the official records of the dynasty) and 'commandment' (imperial orders from the emperor) were attacked as well and these documents suffered severe damage. Valuable treasured documents such as four scrolls of "歴聖図像," 45 volumes of "今上起居注,""皇宋会編" written by 方賓 (sohan (wooden print made during Song dynasty)), "十七朝聖藻集" (明版) by 呉応箕 also disappeared. Furthermore, "Siku Quanshu" (Complete library in four branches of literature), "Gujin Tushu Jicheng" (Complete Collection of Illustrations and Writings from the Earliest to Current Times), and "Daizokyo" (complete collection of Buddhist manuscripts) were damaged or partially lost. Sanjiro SHIMURA, who was a researcher of oriental history, regretted 'Daizokyo, a collection of books, successive commandments, diverse documents mounted on figured satin and damask, all books became lost, scattered in all directions in 閣中, I cannot see to quell the violence.
It saddens me to see to look and not remember.'
Many national treasure works of art flowed out of China, and ironically the value of Chinese art came to be known across the world from this. The interest in oriental art gradually shifted from Japonism to traditional Chinese art, and this became the target of a scramble, and many fake objects (replica) were created. Japanese art merchants were greatly involved in making the world aware of the value of Chinese art. Their representatives were Yamanaka Trading Co., Ltd. of Sadajiro YAMANAKA, Ryusendo of Matsutaro MAYUYAMA, the Okura Shukokan Museum of Fine Arts of Kihachiro OKURA, and they bought antique calligraphic work and paints, bronze ware, porcelain and books from China to sell to Europe and the United States.
There were many that stayed in Japan and exist even now. Representative examples include the 'Koshokujinyu' (Tiger devouring human) at Sen-oku Hakuko Kan and many "Yongle Encyclopedias" stored at the Toyo Bunko (Oriental Library). Yumokujo' (replica from Tang Dynasty) of Xizhi WANG was a treasure of Emperor Qianlong, but after it was granted as an Imperial gift to Yixuan, 1st Prince Chun, it flowed out to Japan during the Boxer Rebellion. However, it burnt to ash during the atomic bombing in Hiroshima City.
Films and literatures covering the Boxer Rebellion
Divine Fist' (a play written by Lao She): 'Divine Fist' was one of the origins of the Boxers. Lao She had a deep relationship with the Boxers. He was born as the child of a lower rank kijin (a member of the Eight Banners during the Qing dynasty) of Manchuria, but his father was killed by the Eight-Nation Alliance force when he was young. As a result, he endured great hardship during his young days. This play reflected Lao She's thoughts about the Boxers.
55 Days at Peking' (filmed in 1963, directed by Nicholas Ray, starring Charlton Heston) was filmed in Spain, and the film company recruited Chinese people from all across Spain so that several thousand Chinese could appear in the film. Furthermore, there was a story that since there were many Chinese people employed in Chinese restaurants, most of the Chinese restaurants in Spain were closed for several months during filming. Due to the theme depicted in the film, it was not permitted to be shown in Hong Kong until the 1980's. The previously mentioned Goro SHIBA appeared in the film and was played by a young Juzo ITAMI. However, it is better to remind oneself that a great amount of historical truth was altered to make the film appealing to audiences in Europe and the United States. The roles of England and the United States in the siege were stressed, and it had a thick oriental stereotype applied to it as it depicted Chinese people who brazenly targeted money by hawking food.