Today in World History: August 14th

The Boxer Rebellion, a defining time for China in which Boxer Rebels protesting against the Imperial Qing Dynasty of China, lasted between 1899 and 1901. Following sever droughts and the near complete collapse of the Chinese Empire, along with many defeats to the major powers of the time, led Boxer Rebels to attempt to overthrow the Chinese Government. By then, a previously technologically superior China had fallen far behind Europe and America, causing it to make many concessions to the British Empire and other major powers, leading to the Opium Wars, and unfavorable trade agreements. During the Boxer Rebellion, China was ideologically split in half, causing the near collapse of the country. Worried about the outcome of the war, an eight-nation alliance was formed to end the war, with the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy coming together to quell the rebellion. The Eight Nation Alliance, as it was called, was turned back by the Chinese officials, but eventually, leading them to launch a campaign to enforce their interests in Asia, culminating in the siege and occupation of Beijing on this day in 1900.

With the occupation of the city, the war effectively ended with a victory for the Eight Nation Alliance. The Alliance began executing Boxer Officials and others associated with the movement, and restored a dynasty allied to the major powers. This led to long-term consequences in Asia that would define the following century. The Great Powers finally ended their ambitions of colonizing China, as they saw the Boxer Rebellion as a warning, and decided instead in favor of a more stealthy approach to controlling the country through the ruling dynasty. On their part, China relented and began instituting reforms to their political and administrative systems. This also marked the beginning of Japanese dominance in Asia, as their huge involvement in ending the war led to the beginning of the Sino-Japanese wars, and Japan’s increasing imperialistic tendencies. China was granted fairer trade deals with Europe and America, but they were however to repay the Alliance a sum over several years equivalent to one year’s income. Overall, more than 130,000 citizens and soldiers were killed in the war, with about 100,000 of those by Boxer Rebels.

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