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Yi Ho Tuan (Boxer) Rebellion

James Steinberg


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During the 1890s, China suffered a series of humiliations through unfair treaties with western powers. The pent-up frustrations eventually ignited thousands of Chinese to join secret societies and engage in murder and mayhem for revenge. For many decades the Chinese had endured the privations of increasing taxation, along with severe droughts and floods, which resulted in extreme suffering. A series of treaties in which western powers not only established trading concessions in various regions but were also permitted the unimpaired movement of Christian missionaries on what was considered Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist soil only exacerbated the situation. Gradually, grassroots Chinese groups started fomenting vehement opposition to the “foreigners” and even to the imposing Qing (Manchu) court. Following China's defeat in the Opium Wars (1840–2, 1856–60) and the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–5, western powers engaged in a “race” to establish their own additional land concessions. This was the era of “gunboat diplomacy,” which led to numerous unequal treaties with western powers requiring China to pay expensive indemnities and nearly bankrupting the country. The provisions of many treaties also allowed extraterritoriality in their concessions and access by Protestant and Catholic missionaries. Their power eventually infuriated Chinese groups who came to resent the arrogance of the westerners. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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