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Tsu Hsi
Tsu Hsi

In China many nations, including England, Germany, Russia, France, Japan, Italy, and the United States, were competing for trade. They all had separate spheres of influence and together they practically ruled China. However in 1900 Chinese nationalism was at an all time high, and so was their xenophobia (fear and hatred of immigrants, similar to the American view of many Asian immigrants). The combination of increased involvement in China and increased Chinese dislike of immigrants led to, what is known as, the Boxer Rebellion.

What started it?

One of the main instigators of the rebellion was Tsu Hsi the empress dowager of the Ch'ing dynasty. Tn her frantic search to rid China of foreign parasites, Hsi sent an imperial message to all of the Chinese provinces. Her message urged the Chinese never to except the intruders as allies, saying that they sought only to control China themselves. Another cause of the rebellion was the drought in the north causing mass starvation. This led many to the secret society known as the fists of righteous harmony(the Boxers), who believed that they had magical powers that protected them from foreign bullets, and also that they would be joined by spirit soldiers.

What Happened?

The fighting
The fighting

The Boxers initial set out to both overthrow the Ch'ing dynasty and expel foreigners. However empress Hsi saw a way to use them, and through her ministers she changed the Boxer slogan to "Support the Ch'ing, destroy the foreigner". With their new found direction the Boxers began roaming the countryside and killing Christian missions and Chinese converts. They then headed for cities, well Hsi assured foreign diplomats that the rebellion would be crushed but in reality did nothing to stop it. The boxers entered the capital and headed to the compound where foreign diplomats lived. The diplomats, their family, and staff threw up defenses and prepared their small military forces. After a few days of fighting, things were looking bleak for the diplomats, they had lost seventy people and had many injured. However before the Boxers could break their defenses a multinational force of soldiers and sailors from eight countries arrived. The troops fought the boxers and the imperial troops while looting much of the capital, however in the midst of the fighting Hsi escaped the city dressed as a peasant.


American involvement in the rebellion allowed them to prevent the seperation of China into the hands of the Europeans. Hay won support from England and Germany for his Open Door policy and got other participants in the rebellion to accept compensation from the Chinese. The Chinese territory remained intact and America retained access to trade. Later this story was made famous by yellow journalism.




American History By: Alan Brinkley


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