What were the consequences of the Boxer uprising in China?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 19th century was not kind to China. A vast country already exploited by foreign imperialists—China’s experience with foreign interventions and occupations dated back hundreds of years—this particular century saw the increasingly intrusive and harsh policies of Japan, Portugal, Britain, and Holland all reaching their climax. Each had established itself as an imperial power among the Chinese. Making matters much worse was the British trade in opium, with the consequent addiction problems that befell tens of thousands of Chinese citizens. The Opium Wars both further humiliated and degraded Chinese society. By the end of the 19th century, Chinese secret societies, led by the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, were primed for a rebellion, and groups of disciplined fighters, appropriately labeled “boxers,” began to attack Western interests and symbols of those interests, including native Chinese who had converted to Christianity—a foreign import unwelcome to the Buddhist and Taoist followers who dominated Chinese society. The Empress Dowager, trying desperately to ensure the survival of the Qing Dynasty that ruled China, exploited local grievances directed against foreign imperialists and missionaries by rousing the increasingly militant population against the occupiers. The resulting Boxer Rebellion was initially successful, but a multinational army eventually succeeded in defeating the uprising and imposing yet another humiliating agreement on the now-dying monarchy.

So, what were the consequences of the Boxer Rebellion? First, Chinese nationalists, while militarily-defeated by the multinational forces that coalesced around the imperialist interests, were nevertheless emboldened in their struggle to evict foreign influences. Second, and tied to the first, the Qing Dynasty was dead, never(?) to return. Nationalist forces threw out the royal family and turned China towards modernization and military growth to protect against the Japanese and Europeans. A centuries-old history of dynastic rule was now and forever ended, and China would never again allow for unchallenged foreign occupation—a vow seriously and nearly-fatally tested when Imperial Japan colonized Manchuria in the 1930s. The end of the Qing Dynasty, however, ushered in the era of China as a republic, with a strict, militant nationalist orientation that would eventually, in 1949, be thrown out (finding refuge in Taiwan) by the Communist guerrillas led by Mao Tsetung and Zhou Enlai.

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