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Yi Ho Tuan: the Boxer Rebellion


  The next movement for reform came from the people and was led by an anti-Manchu secret society of traditional peasant type, the YI HO TUAN- society of righteous and harmonious fist-known as the ‘Boxer’ because their training included physical exercises reminiscent of boxing.
         This society became the center of the rapidly mounting resentment against the foreigners. In 1898 feeling was running high against the Germans, who were exploiting and abusing the Shantung province in a brutal manner. In 1899, under pressure from France, the Manchu’s accorded Roman Catholic of all nationalities special privileges and powers. As a result Christian missionaries were regards as the agent of foreign partition, and became the target of particular popular resentment. The unrest spread to Peking and the Ching government was frightened. Hoping to deflect the anger from the dynasty, the Empress Dowager proposed a joint attack by Boxer and Ching forces against the foreign legations and missions in Peking. This took effect in 1900. A number of missionaries were killed, and foreign diplomats and their families were besieged in the legation quarter of Peking for forty-five days.
          The Manchus called off their troops, leaving the attack to the Boxers. Meanwhile the powers mobilized a combined force which eventually reached Peking and relieved the legations. The Manchu fled. These events were apparently recorded in a diary kept by Ching Shan, a court official and Manchu of the Plain Yellow Banner Corps. The diary has since proved a forgery but the picture it conveys of the times is accurate. For 15 August he noted the decision of the court to flee.
           The forces of the foreign powers defeated the Boxers, occupied Peking, and once more ransacked the restored summer palace. The Manchu court again came to terms with powers and signed a Protocol (1901) negotiated by LI Hung Zhang, agreeing to pay a further huge indemnity, to suppress the Boxers and execute or “condemn to suicide” (a more honorable way of dying) a number of Manchu officials who had taken part in the attack, to suspend the civil service examination for five years in all town where foreigner had been murdered or harshly treated, and to ban on pain of death membership of anti-foreign societies. Ten powers received the right to station troops in Peking to protect their legations and the railway from Peking to the coast. The Manchus also agreed to accept amendments to existing treaties which the foreign power required to facilitate their trade.
          The Middle Kingdom, the Celestial Empire, was reduced to the condition of a colony, not of one power but of all who had the industrial strength to exploit.

 
 

 

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