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the exploitation of china and the open door policy
The Exploitation of China and the “Open Door” Policy

Many Americans became concerned about the increasing foreign intervention in China because they feared that American missions and missionaries would be jeopardized and Chinese markets would be closed to non-Europeans (like the USA who are non-Europeans). {Remember that Europeans and the Japanese were imposing economic and military imperialism on the Chinese by carving up China into “spheres of influence” for themselves.}

America’s “Open Door” policy was essentially an argument for free trade in China for all western industrial nations. (Remember: free trade means low or no tariffs.){TheEuropeans, Japanese, and the Americans would not restrict trade in China and maintain an “open door” for all to trade there and avoid competition and/or war as a result.}

The extended “Open Door” policy advocated in

Secretary of State John Hay’s second note called

on all of the big powers (Western European nations

and Japan), including the USA, to observe the

territorial integrity of China. Sec of State John Hay 

the exploitation of china and the open door policy continued
The Exploitation of China and the “Open Door” Policy continued

China’s Boxer “Rebellion” (1900) [Eurocentric term] was an attempt to drive (throw) out or kill all foreigners (“Foreign Devils”) {which was a nationalistic response to “spheres of influence” that the Europeans, Japanese, and Americans had imposed on China by 1900}.

The American response to China’s Boxer “Rebellion,” was that the USA abandoned its general principles of non-entanglement and noninvolvement in overseas conflict (with Europe, not Latin America). [“Isolationism” – if we ever were truly “isolationist” – is a term that is relative to Europe only as the USA was never “isolationist” in regards to countries in the Americas.]

Once the Boxer uprising ended, China was spared further partition by foreign powers.

 I found this looking for images of the Boxer “Rebellion”

image map political cartoon of the spheres of influence in china the usa wonders where s my slice
Image/Map/Political Cartoon of the “Spheres of Influence” in China[The USA wonders, “Where’s my slice?”]
the boxer rebellion
The Boxer “Rebellion”

The Boxer Rebellion, more properly called the Boxer Uprising, or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement (義和團運動) in Chinese, was a violent anti-imperialism, anti-Christian movement by the "Righteous Fists of Harmony,” Yihe tuan义和团 or Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists in China (known as "Boxers" in English), between 1898 and 1901.

In response to imperialist expansion, growth of cosmopolitan influences, and missionary evangelism, and against the backdrop of state fiscal crisis and natural disasters, local organizations began to emerge in Shandong in 1898.

At first, they were relentlessly suppressed by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty of China. Later, the Qing Dynasty tried to expel western influence from China.

Under the slogan "Support the Qing, destroy the foreign" (扶清灭洋), Boxers across North China attacked mission compounds.

the boxer rebellion continued
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

In June 1900, Boxer fighters, lightly armed or unarmed, gathered in Beijing to besiege the foreign embassies. On June 21st, the conservative faction of the Imperial Court induced the Empress Dowager, who ruled in the emperor’s name, to declare war on the foreign powers that had diplomatic representation in Beijing. Diplomats, foreign civilians, soldiers and some Chinese Christians retreated to the Legation Quarter where they held out for 55 days until the Eight-Nation Alliance brought 20,000 troops to their rescue.

The Boxer Protocol of September 7th, 1901 ended the uprising and provided for severe punishments, including an indemnity of 67 million pounds.

The Qing Dynasty was greatly weakened, and was eventually overthrown by the 1911 revolution, which led to the establishment of the Chinese Republic.

the boxer rebellion continued1
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

Origins of the Boxers:

The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists (simplified Chinese: 义和团; traditional Chinese: 義和團; pinyin: Yìhétuán), known by foreigners as the Boxers, was a secret society founded in Shandong, located in the North province of China.

Westerners came to call well-trained, athletic young men "Boxers" due to the martial arts and calisthenics they practiced. Despite the obvious differences between Wushu and Western pugilistic boxing, the training for unarmed combat took on the same name to the Europeans.

The Boxers believed that they could, through training, diet, martial arts, and prayer, perform extraordinary feats, such as flight, and could become immune to swords and bullets. Further, they popularly claimed that millions of "spirit soldiers" would descend from the heavens and assist them in purifying China from foreign influences.

Boxers recruited local farmers and other workers made desperate by disastrous floods and focused blame on both Christian missionaries and Chinese Christians.

Some Chinese Christians were recent converts and some had been born into the faith, but missionaries secured special protection for them using the shelter of Extraterritoriality [extraterritoriality is the exemption from the jurisdiction of local laws = “diplomatic immunity”].

Aggression toward missionaries and Christians gained the attention of foreign (mainly European) governments.

the boxer rebellion continued2
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

After the Hundred Days Reform failed, the conservative Empress Dowager Cixi (Tsu His) seized power and put the reformist Guangxu Emperor into house arrest. Western countries were sympathetic to the imprisoned emperor, and opposed Cixi's plan to replace the Guangxu emperor. Empress Dowager Cixi decided to use Boxers to expel Western influences from China; meanwhile, the Boxers would be weakened by Western forces. Then the Boxer slogan became “support the Qing, destroy the Foreign." (扶清灭洋)

 Boxers, by Johannes Koekkoek circa 1900.

the boxer rebellion continued3
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

The Chinese nationalist “Boxers,” as well as many other Chinese, were angry over extraterritoriality rights that allowed foreigners to be subject to their own nation’s courts for crimes rather than to Chinese courts (hence laws).

When the Boxers began to have success and the support of the people and it looked as if they could defeat the “foreign devils,” the Dowager Empress Cixi committed the Imperial Army to the cause of supporting the “Boxers” rather than suppressing them.

Next, the massacre of foreign missionaries began.

Italian Mounted infantry   US Soldier in China

Chinese Boxer, 1900 

massacred missionaries
Massacred Missionaries

The Holy Chinese Martyrs

The Taiyuan Massacre was the mass killing of foreign Christian missionaries and of local church members, including children, from July 1900, and was one of the bloodier and more infamous parts of the Boxer Rebellion. 222 Chinese Eastern Orthodox Christians were also murdered, along with 182 Protestant missionaries and 500 Chinese Protestants known as the China Martyrs of 1900. In the end, 48 Catholic missionaries and 18,000 Chinese Catholics were murdered.

primary source quotations of the massacre of missionaries during the boxer rebellion continued
“By June 1900, placards calling for the death of foreigners and Christians covered the walls around Beijing. Armed bands combed the streets of the city, setting fire to homes and "with imperial blessing" killing Chinese Christians and foreigners.

--Father Geoffrey Korz, of the Orthodox church.”

“Boxers blamed “foreign devils” like my great-grandparents for causing northern China's drought and famine, exacerbating economic hardships by building railroads and telegraph lines (because such modern conveniences eliminated jobs), undermining the native textile industry with European imports, infecting and killing Chinese children with Christian prayers and for various other real and imagined infamies.”

Two China Martyrs of 1900

“The barbaric Boxer Rebellion came as a sudden thunderstorm; all foreigners were to be killed not in the sudden merciful death of a bullet but sliced to death by big, old rusty knives and swords.... I had an old Winchester rifle and plenty of ammunition ready for the journey.... The Boxer uprising ultimately claimed the lives of more than 32,000 Chinese Christians and several hundred foreign missionaries.” Historian Nat Brandt called it “the greatest single tragedy in the history of Christian evangelicalism.”

Primary Source Quotations of the Massacre of Missionaries during the Boxer “Rebellion” continued
the boxer rebellion continued4
The “Boxers” then laid siege to Beijing and were barely held back by a small contingent of soldiers, including a small Japanese force that distinguished itself suffering extreme casualties in the process. When the poorly-armed “Boxers” could not take the compound with a military assault, they set fire to the British Legation to try a flush the foreigners out of the compound.

Locations of foreign diplomatic legations and front lines in Beijing during the siege

The Boxer “Rebellion” continued
the boxer rebellion continued5
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

Arrival of reinforcements:

Foreign navies started building up their presence along the northern China coast from the end of April 1900. On the 31st of May, before the sieges had started and upon the request of foreign embassies in Beijing, an International force of 435 navy troops from eight countries were dispatched by train from Takou to the capital (75 French, 75 Russian, 75 British, 60 U.S., 50 German, 40 Italian, 30 Japanese, 30 Austrian); these troops joined the legations and were able to contribute to their defense.

The rebellion was ultimately quashed by the Eight-Nation Alliance of Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

the boxer rebellion continued6
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

The Eight-Nation Alliance attempted an intervention with troops that had to march to Beijing; however, these troops were ultimately attacked and turned back by the “Boxers,” Chinese irregular forces, and even Chinese imperial troops (regular forces).

A second attempt to reach Beijing was made, and it was eventually successful in arriving at the compound and relieving the weak Eight-nation forces and save the foreign diplomats, their families, the missionaries, and the soldiers from certain death at the hands of the “Boxers,” who had suffered severe casualties as a result of the repeated assaults on the foreign diplomatic quarter (compound) after a siege of “55 Days in Peking.”

japanese marines distinguish themselves in the boxer rebellion
Japanese Marines Distinguish Themselves in the Boxer “Rebellion”

Japanese marines who served under the British commander Edward Seymour 

The capture of the southern gate of Tianjin. British troops were positioned on the left, Japanese troops at the centre, French troops on the right.
u s marines at the siege of beijing semper fi
U.S. Marines at the Siege of Beijing[Semper Fi!]

Charlton Heston in the film 55 Days at Peking 

the usmc in china in 1900
The USMC in China in 1900

USMC fighting against the Righteous and Harmonious Fists

"The Fall of the Peking Castle" from September 1900. English and Japanese soldiers assaulting Chinese troops.
russian troops above and foreign diplomats and their families below in beijing peking
Russian Troops (above) and Foreign Diplomats and their families (below) in Beijing (Peking)
Executed Boxer leaders at His-Kou 1900-1901, guarded by a German soldier.[De-cap-i-ta-tion!]{Notice the two children standing right there.}
speaking of decapitations of boxers
Speaking of Decapitations of “Boxers”…

 This dude from the Austro-Hungarian Empire did not do the decapitating, even though he has a cool sword.

the boxer rebellion continued7
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

Some of the soldiers of the Eight Nation Alliance engaged in plunder and looting, as well as rape in some cases.

The Dowager Empress, now seeing her misfortune of having switched to support the “Boxers” hoped that if she acted decisively against the “Boxers” she could maintain her power. She did remain in power, because she rounded up the “Boxers” and had Chinese imperial troops decapitate (cut off the heads) the “rebels.”

Dowager Empress Cixi, the power behind the throne. 

the boxer rebellion continued8
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

On September 7th, 1901, the Qing court was compelled to sign the "Boxer Protocol" also known as Peace Agreement between the Eight-Nation Alliance and China that ordered the execution of ten high-ranking officials linked to the outbreak, and other officials who were found guilty for the slaughter of Westerners in China.

China was fined war reparations of 450,000,000 tael of fine silver (1 tael = 1.2 troy ounces) for the loss that it caused. The reparation would be paid within 39 years, and would be 982,238,150 taels with interests (4% per year) included. To help meet the payment, it was agreed to increase the existing tariff from an actual 3.18% to 5%, and to tax hitherto duty-free merchandise. The sum of reparation was estimated by the Chinese population (roughly 450 million in 1900), to let each Chinese pay one tael. Chinese custom income and salt tax were enlisted as guarantee of the reparation. Russia got 30% of the reparation, Germany 20%, France 15.75%, Britain 11.25%, Japan 7.7% and the US share was 7%.

the boxer rebellion continued9
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

A large portion of the reparations paid to the United States was diverted to pay for the education of Chinese students in U.S. universities under the Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship Program. To prepare the students chosen for this program an institute was established to teach the English language and to serve as a preparatory school for the course of study chosen. When the first of these students returned to China they undertook the teaching of subsequent students, from this institute was born Tsinghua University. Some of the reparation due to Britain was later earmarked for a similar program.

The China or Inland Mission lost more members than any other missionary agency: 58 adults and 21 children were killed. However, in 1901, when the allied nations were demanding compensation from the Chinese government, Hudson Taylor refused to accept payment for loss of property or life in order to demonstrate the meekness of Christ to the Chinese.

the boxer rebellion finale
The Boxer “Rebellion” finale

The western countries stopped short of finally colonizing China. From the Boxer rebellions, the westerners learned that the best way to govern China was through the Chinese dynasty, instead of direct dealing with the Chinese people (as a saying “The people are afraid of officials, the officials are afraid of foreigners, and the foreigners are afraid of the people" (老百姓怕官,官怕洋鬼子,洋鬼子怕老百姓). Dowager Cixi used Boxers to fight westerners largely because western countries sympathized with the Guangxu Emperor, who had been house-arrested after an aborted reformation. However, eventually, as an unwritten agreement, Dowager Cixi was allowed to stay in power, since comparatively, Cixi could use her influence to suppress the Chinese anti-western sentiment better than the weak and ineffectual Guangxu Emperor. The Guangxu Emperor spent the rest of his life in house-arrest.

statistics of the boxer rebellion
Statistics of the Boxer “Rebellion”


November 2nd, 1899 – September 7th, 1901




Eight-NationAlliance victory


Eight-Nation Alliance (number ordered by contribution): 1) Japan, 2) Russia, 3) United Kingdom,

4) France, 5) Germany, 6) United States, 7) Italy, and 8) Austria-Hungary


The Righteous Harmony Society (“Boxers”) and the Qing Empire


Sir Edward Seymour (Britain), Alfred Graf von Waldersee (Germany), and various others from the Eight-Nation Alliance


Ci Xi, Zaiyi, Prince Duan, Ronglu, and Yuan Shikai for the “Boxers” and the Qing Empire


49,255 Eight-Nation Alliance total


50,000 – 100,000 Boxers

70,000 Imperial troops

Casualties and losses:

2,500 soldiers, 526 foreigners, and several thousand Chinese Christians for the Eight-Nation Alliance

"All" Boxers and 20,000 Imperial troops for the Qing Empire

18,952+ civilians losses for the Chinese people

forces of the eight nation alliance 1900 boxer rebellion
Forces of the Eight-Nation Alliance (1900 Boxer “Rebellion”)

Countries Warships (units) Marines (men) Army (men)

Japan 18 540 20,300

Russia 10 750 12,400

UK 8 2,020 10,000

France 5 390 3,130

USA 2 295 3,125

Germany 5 600 300

Italy 2 80 None

Austria–Hungary 1 75 None

Total 51 4,750 49,255

the boxer rebellion1
The Boxer “Rebellion”

Imperial China, in the nineteenth century was in a state of decay. Accompanied and partly responsible for the deterioration of a once powerful empire was the increasing pressure from the West and later from Japan. The Chinese had been badly beaten in the Opium wars with Britain (concluded in 1842) and were forced to open Chinese ports to foreign trade and residents. The Manchu dynasty, already ravaged by domestic rebellion, found itself powerless to resist further demands from Western Powers and between 1856 to 1898, a network of foreign control over the entire Chinese economy had been established.

The Triads resented this dilution of their entrenched power and in 1898, with the support of the dowager empress who had recently retired, seized the emperor and took control. This started a period of violent reaction that swept the country and culminated in 1900 with the Boxer Rebellion.

French medal of the China campaign (1900-1901). Musée de la Légion d'Honneur. 

the boxer rebellion continued10
The Boxer “Rebellion” continued

The Boxers were the Triads' private armies of well trained, dedicated and fanatically anti-foreign martial artists, inspired by the Shaolin tradition and with an unshakable belief in their immunity to any kind of attack. Together with the official Chinese army they initially enjoyed some success, killing hundreds of foreigners and besieging the international settlement at Peking. These successes were short lived however, as a Western expeditionary force, made up of United States, British, French and Japanese troops, arrived and lifted the siege. Large numbers of boxers, confident that their iron-shirt training would protect them, succumbed to bullets and cannon fire before the rebellion was finally crushed. The remaining Boxers faded away and no more was heard of them, although it is known that many of them took refuge in Taiwan.

 Above left: A captured “Boxer.”

 Left, left: Secretary of State John Hay who desired “a splendid little” “open door” in China

 Left, right: Empress Dowager Tsu His (Cixi)

german political cartoons of the boxer rebellion
German Political Cartoons of the “Boxer Rebellion”

German political cartoons of Der Krieg in China (“The War in China”).

collier s cover story
COLLIER’S Cover Story

Collier’s magazine cover from the time of the Boxer Uprising. Notice the cost of the magazine.

political cartoon of william jennings bryan
Political Cartoon of William Jennings Bryan

Like the previous week’s issue of Harper’s Weekly, the June 30 cover of Judge features William Jennings Bryan as an angry, rebellious Chinese Boxer. The Boxer Rebellion was then at its height in China. An international military force had been sent to Peking (Beijing), the Chinese capital, to crush the rebellion and restore order. I n late June, President William McKinley transferred 2500 American troops from the Philippines to China, where they became part of the 20,000 international troops that ended the rebellion in August 1900.

political cartoon of two pugilists
Political Cartoon of Two Pugilists


Uncles Sam (to the obstreperous [hostile] Boxer).I occasionally do a little boxing myself.”

This Harper's Weekly cartoon by W. A. Rogers encourages an aggressive American military reaction to the Boxer Rebellion in China.  A determined Uncle Sam has donned two naval ships as boxing gloves, provoking the Chinese rebel, whose knife drips with blood, into a wide-eyed grimace of fear.

another political cartoon about the boxer rebellion
Another Political Cartoon about the Boxer “Rebellion”

See next slide for explanation of this political cartoon

explanation to the previous slide s political cartoon
Explanation to the previous slide’s political cartoon

This British "chromo" cartoon of 1901 lampoons the situation after the Boxer Rebellion was quelled: The imperial powers cluster around the prostrate carcass of the golden dragon, China, to claim their share.

Newcomers Japan (sabre-toothed tiger, with samurai short sword in mouth), Italy (toothy dog in carabinieri garb) and U.S. (one of 3 eagles) are just as aggressive, though not as large, as the Russian bear and British lion.

France is seen here as a rooster, Austria the two-headed eagle. In truth, economic decline and social instability had wracked China since the 1860s.

Even so, by 1900 signs of imminent collapse were appearing -- a collapse greatly hastened by the dynasty's siding with the Boxers.

The several years of foreign occupation and looting that ensued destabilized Chinese society and resulted in increased foreign control and further deligitimization of the dynasty.

In 1902, when order was restored, it had barely 10 years to live.

The toothless Republic that succeeded it never established broad national control.

In less time than it takes to tell, China broke down into chaos, civil war, and warlordism -- when combined with the 8-year Japanese invasion and occupation, a dark tunnel of horrors from which the population did not emerge until 1950.

This fine drawing may serve as a metaphor for the squabble of the imperial powers over how best to dismember the defunct Chinese Empire.