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?


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