The Boxer Rebellion was a movement in which an anti-foreigner group killed Christian Missionaries and Chinese Christian converts throughout China. This group called itself the Righteous and Harmonious fists, or the “Boxers”, due to their skills in boxing and martial arts (Small Planet Communications). The rebellion came to an end in Beijing, when the Boxers were defeated after a raid on the foreign diplomat’s living quarters (Small Planet Communications).  The Boxer Rebellion was a result of anger and resentment from the Chinese towards the foreign powers occupying China.  

China was frustrated by the presence of foreign missionaries in China who challenged the authority of the Chinese scholar-gentry (The Corner of the World). Although the foreign missionaries hadn’t intended to become the enemy, many Chinese, including the scholar-gentry, saw them as a threat (The Corner of the World). The scholar-gentry were well respected social leaders who had many exclusive privileges in society, such as carrying out social welfare measures, having first priority with Chinese officials, and enjoying special rights under the law. This changed when the missionaries arrived, and were granted the same privileges (The Corner of the World). Not only did this anger the scholar-gentry, but it presented the foreigners as a risk to their power and influence on society. Missionaries often tried to advertise their displeasure with local festivals and the Chinese tradition of worshiping ancestors (The Corner of the World). This was seen as a threat against ancient Chinese tradition and culture. In one case, a village in the Shandong province wanted to build a temple for ancient practices while the catholic authorities wanted the same property to build a church (Marci Ranzer, EncycloMedia).  In the end, the local court ruled in favor of the church, which caused anger and resentment from the Chinese. As a result of their hatred, many Chinese scholar-gentry approved anti-foreign behavior. In certain cases, they even encourage it by actions such as passing out books to the locals that presented anti-Christian ideas (Small Planet Communications).  

Many Chinese were extremely angry at the foreign powers due to their interest in Spheres of Influence (History of War). These “spheres” were areas in China that were controlled by foreign countries, in which the foreign power had more control than the Chinese government. Often times the foreigners would even claim that they owned the territory within their spheres. (Small Planet Communications).  Many Chinese feared that these foreign powers, including Germany, France, Russia, and Japan, would separate China into many different regions. The Chinese called this “carving the melon,” (Ch’ing China, Richard Hooker), and many did not want this to happen for fear that it would tear apart their country (Small Planet Communications). It was this fear that contributed to sparking the Boxer Rebellion.

The Qing dynasty supported anti-foreigner groups, which lead to increased popularity in the participation of the Boxer Rebellion (Small Planet Communications). Important figures within the government, such as Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi and Manchu conservatives, saw foreign powers as a threat that were taking over their land and rights. The Manchu conservatives, such as Prince Tuan, were primarily concerned with Westerners taking away their power and destroying China’s traditional culture (The Corner of the World). Empress Dowager, on the other hand, had a personal hatred of foreigners and imperialism. Before the rebellion had gained popularity, Empress Dowager stated, “Let us not thing about making peace,”(The Corner of the World). This quote was directed towards the people of China on the issue of foreign involvement. It illustrated her distrust of foreigners, and lack of consent to resolve any issues with them.  This hatred went back to her childhood, when the Empress was forced to leave her home town due to an invasion by the French in 1860 (The Corner of the World). This resulted in the Empress’ encouragement of the Boxer Rebellion, which ultimately caused it popularity throughout China. This popularity was due to the fact that the locals were encouraged to take out their anger on the foreigners without punishment from the government.

 Many other factors contributed to the spark of the Boxer Rebellion. These include natural disasters and hardships throughout China. Often disasters such as floods or storms were blamed on the presence of foreigners, which only increased the anti-foreigner movements. (The Corner of the World). This suspicion was also applied to the missionaries who were falsely accused of using violence and rape in church (The Corner of the World). All of these fears and built up emotions of anger and resentment caused the Boxer Rebellion.


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