The Boxer Rebellion In China

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The Boxer Rebellion In China



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The terms of its defeat were a bitter pill to swallow: China had to cede the territory of Hong Kong to British control, open treaty ports to trade with foreigners, and grant special rights to foreigners operating within the treaty ports. In addition, the Chinese government had to stand by as the British increased their opium sales to people in China. The British did this in the name of free trade and without regard to the consequences for the Chinese government and Chinese people. In the midth century, western imperial powers such as Great Britain, France, and the United States were aggressively expanding their influence around the world through their economic and military strength and by spreading religion, mostly through the activities of Christian missionaries.

These countries embraced the idea of free trade, and their militaries had become so powerful that they could impose such ideas on others. In one sense, China was relatively effective in responding to this foreign encroachment; unlike its neighbours, including present-day India, Burma now Myanmar , Malaya now Malaysia , Indonesia, and Vietnam, China did not become a full-fledged, formal colony of the West. Nineteenth-century China was a large, mostly land-based empire see Map 1 , administered by a c.

All of these things made China, in some ways, dramatically different from the European powers of the day, and it struggled to deal effectively with their encroachment. This ineffectiveness resulted in, or at least added to, longer-term problems for China, such as unequal treaties which will be described later , repeated foreign military invasions, massive internal rebellions, internal political fights, and social upheaval. Map 1: China's Borders as of In the decades leading up to the first Opium War, trade between China and the West took place within the confines of the Canton System, based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou also referred to as Canton.

An earlier version of this system had been put in place by China under the Ming Dynasty — , and further developed by its replacement, the Qing Dynasty, also known as the Manchu Dynasty. The Manchus were the ethnic group that ruled China during the Qing period. This effectively restricted foreign trade and subjected it to regulations imposed by the Chinese government. For many years, Great Britain worked within this system to run a three country trade operation: It shipped Indian cotton and British silver to China, and Chinese tea and other Chinese goods to Britain see Map 2. One major reason was that British consumers had developed a strong liking for Chinese tea, as well as other goods like porcelain and silk.

But Chinese consumers had no similar preference for any goods produced in Britain. Because of this trade imbalance, Britain increasingly had to use silver to pay for its expanding purchases of Chinese goods. In the late s, Britain tried to alter this balance by replacing cotton with opium, also grown in India. The opium that the British sold in China was made from the sap of poppy plants, and had been used for medicinal and sometimes recreational purposes in China and other parts of Eurasia for centuries. After the British colonized large parts of India in the 17th century, the British East India Company, which was created to take advantage of trade with East Asia and India, invested heavily in growing and processing opium, especially in the eastern Indian province of Bengal.

In fact, the British developed a profitable monopoly over the cultivation of opium that would be shipped to and sold in China. By the early 19th century, more and more Chinese were smoking British opium as a recreational drug. But for many, what started as recreation soon became a punishing addiction: many people who stopped ingesting opium suffered chills, nausea, and cramps, and sometimes died from withdrawal. Once addicted, people would often do almost anything to continue to get access to the drug. The Chinese government recognized that opium was becoming a serious social problem and, in the year , it banned both the production and the importation of opium. In , it went a step further by outlawing the smoking of opium and imposing a punishment of beating offenders times.

Figure 2: Opium smoking in China. Chinese smugglers bought the opium from British and American ships anchored off the Guangzhou coast and distributed it within China through a network of Chinese middlemen. This reached a crisis point when, in , the British East India Company lost its monopoly over British opium. To compete for customers, dealers lowered their selling price, which made it easier for more people in China to buy opium, thus spreading further use and addition. In less than 30 years—from to —opium imports to China increased from 4, chests the large containers used to ship the drug to 40, As Chinese consumed more and more imported opium, the outflow of silver to pay for it increased, from about two million ounces in the early s to over nine million ounces a decade later.

In , the Chinese emperor, already angry that opium traders were breaking local laws and increasing addiction and smuggling, discovered that members of his army and government and even students were engaged in smoking opium. By , the Chinese government began to get more serious about enforcing the ban. It closed opium dens and executed Chinese dealers. But the problem only grew worse. The emperor called for a debate among Chinese officials on how best to deal with the crisis.

Opinion were polarized into two sides. One side took a pragmatic approach that is, an approach not focused on the morality of the issue. It focused on targeting opium users rather than opium producers. They argued that the production and sale of opium should be legalized and then taxed by the government. Their belief was that taxing the drug would make it so expensive that people would have to smoke less of it or not smoke it at all. They also argued that the money collected from taxing the opium trade could help the Chinese government reduce revenue shortfalls and the outflow of silver. If they could not suppress the trade of opium and addiction to it, the Chinese empire would have no peasants to work the land, no townsfolk to pay taxes, no students to study, and no soldiers to fight.

Figure 3: Lin Zexu. In , he arrived in Guangzhou Canton to supervise the ban on the opium trade and to crack down on its use. He attacked the opium trade on several levels. More importantly, he made rapid progress in enforcing the ban by arresting over 1, Chinese dealers and seizing and destroying tens of thousands of opium pipes. He also demanded that foreign companies British companies, in particular turn over their supplies of opium in exchange for tea. When the British refused to do so, Lin stopped all foreign trade and quarantined the area to which these foreign merchants were confined. Lin then hired Chinese men to destroy the opium by mixing it with lime and salt and dumping it into the bay. Finally, he pressured the Portuguese, who had a colony in nearby Macao, to expel the uncooperative British, forcing them to move to the island of Hong Kong.

Figure 4: British officers in their tent during the first Opium War, circa Taken together, these actions raised the tensions that led to the outbreak of the first Opium War. More to the point, British representatives in Guangzhou requested that merchants turn over their opium to Lin, guaranteeing that the British government would compensate them for their losses. The idea was that in the short term, this would prevent a major conflict, and that it would keep the merchants and ship captains safe while reopening the extremely profitable China trade in other goods. The huge opium liability the opium was worth millions of pounds sterling , and increasingly shrill demands from merchants in China, India, and London when they discovered their profits were destroyed, gave politicians in Great Britain the excuse they were looking for to act more forcefully to expand British imperial interests in China.

War broke out in November when Chinese warships clashed with British merchantmen. Figure 5: Chinese swordsman, Over the next two years, the British forces bombarded forts, fought battles, seized cities, and attempted negotiations. A preliminary settlement called for China to cede Hong Kong to the British Empire, pay an indemnity, and grant Britain full diplomatic relations. It also led to the Qing government sending Lin Zexu into exile. Chinese troops, using antiquated guns and cannons, and with limited naval ships, were largely ineffective against the British.

Dozens of Chinese officers committed suicide when they could not repel the British marines, steamships, and merchantmen. The first Opium War ended in , when Chinese officials signed, at gunpoint, the Treaty of Nanjing. The treaty provided extraordinary benefits to the British, including:. For China, the Treaty of Nanjing provided no benefits. In fact, Chinese imports of opium rose to a peak of 87, chests in see Figure 1. After that, imports of opium declined, and then ended during the First World War, as opium production within China outgrew foreign production. London: Routledge. Digitized May 30, No ISBN. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press. Retrieved June 28, Han-Mongol encounters and missionary endeavors: a history of Scheut in Ordos Hetao — Fire and sword in Shansi: the story of the martyrdom of foreigners and Chinese Christians.

New York: Revell. The I. Harvard University Press. Retrieved April 24, Haw Beijing: a concise history. Edinburgh: T. Houtsma, A. Wensinck Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam — Cambridge: CUP Archive. Columbia University. Diplomacy and deception : the secret history of Sino-Soviet diplomatic relations, Armonk N. Cultural China. Shanghai News and Press Bureau. Archived from the original on October 23, Retrieved November 22, Treaty of Kyakhta Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation Qing dynasty topics. Hidden categories: CS1 Spanish-language sources es Articles with short description Short description is different from Wikidata Use mdy dates from November Articles containing Chinese-language text Commons category link is on Wikidata Articles with Chinese-language sources zh.

Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file. Download as PDF Printable version. Wikimedia Commons Wikisource. National Palace Museum , Taipei City. Chinese , French The agreement is based on French. Boxer Protocol at Wikisource. Xinchou year treaty 2. Xinchou year all-nation peace treaty 3. Beijing protocol. Transcriptions Standard Mandarin Hanyu Pinyin 1.

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