Rebellion in China around 1900

Around 1900, after many
years of succumbing to the superior military of the West, the
Chinese stood up for their country. China was a weak,
backwards, country, exploited by the West. They felt that
they could counter the foreign domination, but reforms were
useless because they needed the West to help with the
reforms. But something sparked their confidence, and they
believed themselves to be able to conquer any foreign
power. This spark was the Society of Harmonious Fists,
commonly known as "Boxers." Combined with unhappy
people, and new weapons technology, the Chinese rebelled
against the foreign powers. The first reason of this
confidence was the Boxer Society, which formed in North
China after the Sino-Japanese war, but wasn\'t well known
until 1898 in Shantung. This organization was actually a cult,
following strange and absurd practices of defense. It had no
central leaders, and the practices varied in different
locations. Their goal was to rid China of the foreign menace.
The boxers were different from most other rebels of their
time. They would conduct public physical exercises that
were supposed to make a magical shield to protect one
against foreign bullets and shells. These looked similar to a
boxers training exercises so the westerners nicknamed the
members of the Society of Harmonious Fists "Boxers."
Rather then using foreign weapons, they relied on magical
spirits and swords, knives, staves, and polearms to drive the
foreign devils from their precious home country. The
membership of this group consisted of mostly the criminals,
poor, and illiterate of China who wore a simple uniform
consisting of a red armband, sash, or waistcloth. These
people truly believed that magic would protect them, and
help remove the foreigners from China. That gave them
enough confidence to try to destroy the foreigners.
Missionaries were killed, railroads were destroyed, and
churches were burned all in the name of independence from
foreign rule. Another key aspect in the rebellions against the
west was a series of natural disasters that swept China
during the last decade of the nineteenth century. Famine
struck, droughts prevented the planting of crops, and to top
it all, the Yellow river flooded, causing the destruction of
1,500 villages and 2,500 square miles of countryside. These
disaster lead to unhappiness of the people. In order to keep
them from turning on the government, the Dowager
Empress, Tsu Hsi, encouraged the peasants to rebel against
the foreigners. Some of these angry people joined the
Boxers, and others rebelled alone, but they had the Empress
behind them, giving them encouragement, and making them
feel ready to take on the demons from the West. The third
reason that the Chinese felt ready to face the West, was a
new weapons technology. This was the machine gun, which
had both physical and symbolic power. It could physically
kill many more people then a regular rifle, because of its
ability to spray bullets and fire more then one round per
pulling of the trigger. Symbolically, it represented a method
which the west had used to subdue the Chinese, and now
the Chinese were going to use it against the west. This
inspired confidence and made the people ready to fight,
knowing that they could fight machine gun with machine gun.
The Chinese were tired of being looked down at by the
west. The people were unhappy, armed, or bullet proof, and
the Queen encouraged them to fight the west. With all this
support how could one not feel ready to fight the West?

Category: History