History of China # 02 | What was Boxer Rebellion
So far you understood how China became a target of foreign forces. How countries like Britain, France, Germany and Japan established their monopoly in different areas of China. China was defeated in every war. Missionaries were destroying China’s culture and China was helpless. But this monopoly did not last for a long time. The people stood against the government and foreigners. All of this started the Boxer Revolution, what was the Boxer Revolution? How it ended? And how the Chinese government was overthrown? I am Osama Ghazi and you are watching “History of China”, “From Opium to CPEC” by Dekho Suno Jano. Subscribe Dekho Suno Jano and also click bell icon to get notifications. In 1898, The Chinese nation stood up against the foreigners under the banner of Boxer Revolution. There was an interesting concept behind the name “Boxer”. It is said that the revolutionaries practised boxing. That’s why they were called boxers. It was also known that the gods favoured the boxers that’s why no weapon could hurt them. Simple people believed them and they joined the revolution in large numbers. Because it is a fact that when a revolution is going on, the people forget difference between truth and lies. And they only like the person who is telling what they want to listen. And this happened in China. Chinese people joined the boxers. Boxers burned the churches and began to kill Christian missionaries. Thousands of Chinese Christians and missionaries fled to Peking and took refuge in the diplomatic area. Foreign troops from Tianjin were sent to help them. But Boxers attacked and forced them to retreat. Here is an interesting fact that the boxers who attacked foreign soldiers were mostly Chinese Muslims. They were participating in this revolution for their homeland, despite religious differences. Now thousands of foreigners were trapped in in the diplomatic area and boxers had surrounded them. All the routes of escape were closed. At this time, Empress Dowager Cixi was ruling over China. She was smart and made decisions according to the situation. Unless the boxers were not powerful she called them rebels. But when the revolutionaries reached Peking, she supported them and also ordered her troops to aid them. On 20th of June 1900, boxers and Chinese soldiers attacked the diplomatic area. First of all a French soldier was killed. Then a British professor was caught and killed. His head was hanged at a door outside the International Legations. The revolutionaries were so emotional but their spirits failed before the modern technology. The geography was also in favor of the foreign forces. Because this was a narrow area where only small number of the invaders could attack at a time. Foreign troops benefited from this situation and strengthened their position. But in this case, the women present in the diplomatic area also helped them. The women used the sand in the area. They prepared 1000 bags of sand in a single day. These bags were placed around the diplomatic area, it was shaped like a bunker. And thus, it was difficult for the Chinese to shoot at the besieged foreigners. The foreign troops were safe behind the sand bags and could easily target the Chinese. So when the battle began, hundreds of the Chinese people were killed. This is also an interesting fact that the Chinese people did not lose belief in the boxers. Even when the “immortal” boxers were killed, the Chinese people did not withdraw. The revolutionaries convinced them that the faith of the dead was weak that’s why they died. The Chinese people continued the battle. But the foreigners did not surrender. They knew that if they surrendered the angry people will kill them all. That’s why they were fighting to the end. Meanwhile, a frightful incident occurred on July 21st. International newspapers published a news that that the Chinese people had killed all the foreigners. The report spread anger in Europe and America. German emperor Kaiser threatened to send 30, 000 troops to China and raze Peking to the ground. The American forces in Philippines were also ordered to move to Peking. However, a few days later the world realized that the news was fake. But the fake news indicated that the situation was serious. Foreign powers announced to send troops to China to rescue the foreigners. But at that time the foreign powers had no modern aircraft carriers, helicopters or fighter jets. It was certain that the foreign forces would be late and the foreigners will be destroyed. The foreign forces in Tianjin were their last hope. The besieged people were losing hope because of the long wait. They were also facing shortage of weapons and food. But the white people still showed their racism in this situation. They were eating most of the food. But the Chinese Christians were getting small share of the food. The result was that hundreds of Christian Chinese died from starvation. The attackers were also getting tired and losing patience. The international forces were advancing towards China. The foreign forces in Tianjin were also returning now. In these circumstances, Chinese revolutionaries burned a library near the diplomatic area to drive out the foreigners. But even here the gods of the Chinese did not help them. The wind changed its course and the flames were diverted towards the invaders. The foreign troops killed many assailants. They also captured few invaders alive and shot them. The army had left Tianjin to aid the besieged people. Boxers were attacking it but this time these attacks failed. Soon the boxers realized that the foreign forces will surely reach the besieged International Legations. So the Chinese decided to launch a final attack. The whole city attacked the diplomatic area. But despite the Chinese attacks, the foreign troops were not defeated. . The fighting was ongoing when there was a sudden pause. When the attackers saw the rescue forces entering the city . They withdrew from the area. Troops from the USA, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary and Japan entered the city. Soon the rescue force reached the besieged area. The foreigners were near collapse. But when the help reached them, they came out celebrating and began to embrace the soldiers. Although the Chinese suffered heavy losses as compared to the foreigners, the government officials fled and the capital was completely on the mercy of the foreigners. Yet the foreign forces took revenge from the Chinese nation. They occupied Peking and started looting the city. The palace of the Chinese royal family was called the Forbidden City. The Chinese people were forbidden to enter the palace. But now the Germans made it their headquarters. The palace was robbed. Even the Buddhist shrines were not safe. The Chinese empress, who used to wear comfortable and precious dresses, had to flee the palace in a shabby condition. Although the empress returned two years later, everything was changed in China until then. Now the Chinese capital was under foreign control. And the position of the empress was like the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Actually the empress was now just a prisoner of the foreigners. The foreigners forced the empress and she started killing the boxers as traitors. Thousands of boxers were killed and thus China’s first revolution came to its end. But it sparked a spirit in the Chinese people for independence. This spirit did not end with the revolution. The Chinese empress died in 1908 and three years later, the army and the people overtook the government. Doors of the Forbidden City were opened to the public. So just 11 years after the end of the Boxer Revolution, China saw a second revolution. But no revolution is final in the history of the nations. The revolution is actually a romance which demands constant changes. It does not care about the results. Because revolution is the love of youth who want immediate change. The Chinese who were celebrating the success of their 2nd revolution did not foresee the future challenges. The story of the Chinese revolution continues. In the next episode, you will see who dreamed of making China a great nation? Who ordered the Long March? And what happened to the participants of the Long March? All this will be shown in the next episode but if you want to know how powerful China really is then click here. And if you want to know who made the Taliban? click here.