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Boxer Rebellion

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Author Topic: Boxer Rebellion  (Read 3822 times)
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« on: September 07, 2007, 05:45:01 am »

A pamphlet promoting the Boxers circa 1899

The Imperial Court, now under the firm control of several conservative reactionaries, forced the Empress to issue edicts in defense of the Boxers, drawing heated complaints from foreign diplomats in January, 1900. In June 1900 the Boxers, now joined by elements of the Imperial army, attacked foreign compounds in the cities of Tianjin and Peking. The legations of the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United States, Russia and Japan were all located on the Legation Quarter close to the Forbidden City. The legations were hurriedly linked into a fortified compound, that became a refuge for foreign citizens in Peking. The Spanish and Belgian legations were a few streets away, and their staff were able to arrive safely at the compound. The German legation on the other side of the city was stormed before the staff could escape. When the Envoy for the German Empire, Klemens Freiherr von Ketteler, was murdered on June 20 by a Manchu banner man, the foreign powers demanded redress. Cixi declared war on June 21 against all Western powers, but regional governors refused to go along. Shanghai's Chinese elites supported the provincial governors of southeastern China in resisting the imperial declaration of war.

The fortified legation compound remained under siege from Boxer forces from June 20 to August 14. Under the command of the British minister to China, Claude Maxwell MacDonald, the legation staff and security personnel defended the compound with one old muzzle-loaded cannon. It was nicknamed the "International Gun" because the barrel was British, the carriage was Italian, the shells were Russian, and the crew was American.

Foreign media described the fighting going on in Peking as well as alleged torture and murder of captured foreigners. Tens of thousands of Chinese Christians were massacred in north China. Many horrible stories that appeared in world newspapers were based on a deliberate fraud. Nonetheless a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment arose in Europe, America, and Japan.

The poorly armed Boxer rebels were unable to break into the compound, which was relieved by the international army of the Eight-Nation Alliance in July.

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