Exploring Chinese History
- Rebellion and Revolution -

The Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion was a bloody uprising in northern China in 1900 in which hundreds of Chinese and more than 200 people from other countries were killed. The Boxer Rebellion climaxed a movement in the late 1800's against the spread of Western and Japanese influence in China.

The movement was started by a secret Chinese society called Yihequan (Righteous and Harmonious Fists). This society was originally connected with the White Lotus sect, which opposed the Manchus, the rulers of China. Westerners nicknamed members of the group Boxers, because they practiced gymnastics and calisthenics. In the 1890's, the Boxers began to oppose the spread of foreign influence in China. Many other Chinese shared these anti-Western feelings, and even the Manchus secretly approved the movement.

In 1900, the Boxers set out to destroy everything they considered foreign. They slaughtered Chinese Christians, missionaries and other persons from foreign countries, and anyone they found who supported Western ideas. They burned houses, schools, and churches. When foreign diplomats in Beijing sent out calls for troops, the Manchu government declared war against the foreign powers.

Boxers and government troops besieged the legations (official residences of foreign diplomats) in Beijing from June 21 to Aug. 14, 1900. Foreign guards, civilians, and Chinese Christians courageously resisted. Finally, a rescue force from eight nations crushed the uprising.

On Sept. 7, 1901, the Manchu government and representatives of 11 other nations signed a final settlement, called The Boxer Protocol. China agreed to execute several officials and punish many others, destroy many forts, and pay about $330 million in damages. In 1908, the United States returned part of the money it had received, to be used for educational purposes. Britain and Japan later did the same.


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