The Boxers throughout the length of the Rebellion aimed to influence and enforce their views upon the Chinese people and the ruling Qing dynasty. This group, comprised primarily of adolescents from Northern China, aimed to rid their country from economic manipulation, political invasion, the influence of foreign ideas and to eradicate Christianity from China.
These aims were conveyed through a series of significant actions performed between 1899 and 1901 which included those such as: attacks on Chinese Christians both directly and indirectly, the politic massacre of foreigners and foreign diplomats, the assault on foreign legations and their 55-day long siege of Beijing. The compilation of these events led to a significant but negative impact upon Chinese society although it did successfully influence the leadership, decisions and views of the ruling Qing dynasty, particularly through the Boxer supporting Prince Tuan.
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The loss of the Boxers was inevitable as their traditional weapons were weak in comparison to modern western ones and many of their actions lacked adequate organisation, this loss only led to a further destabilisation of the Chinese government. The Boxers held a strong anti-Christian opinion, and their hatred of this foreign religion only intensified upon the conversion of Chinese people to Christianity, defying traditional Confucian beliefs. The Chinese Christians defied many social and political conventions which challenged and caused divisions in Chinese society.
The Boxers saw this as an evil and attributed famine, drought, economic hardships and natural disasters as a work of Christianity whose building of churches and introduction of foreign practises was believed to have angered traditional spirits. The Boxers sought to eradicate Christianity from China, this aim resulted in the death of approximately 32,000 Chinese Christians, among which included missionaries, priests, nuns and civilians, the Boxers also freely burnt down the churches; acting as an indirect attack upon Christianity.
These actions impacted significantly on China which successfully instilled the belief that Christianity was an evil into Chinese society as well creating fissures in society due to a variation of beliefs. This action also impacted upon the Qing government, gaining the Empress’s conditional support of the Boxers, whose sponsorship also contributed to the success and impact of their actions. This support created further tension between the foreigners and the anti-foreigner Chinese government and led to a corruption of the government’s administration.
Another significant action of the Boxers committed during the Boxer Rebellion was the murder of foreign diplomats. In 1900, the chancellor for the Japanese legation and a German diplomat were both killed by Boxers within Beijing. This particular action impacted on the Qing dynasty as it now had to formally acknowledge in which side it was support of, punishing the Boxers would mean the Qing was in the alliance with the foreign while not punishing them would mean the opposite as the Qing would have to respond to the outrage of the foreigners.
A week later, Empress Ci Xi announced that she would fight the foreigners with the help of the Boxers and gave them a twenty four hour ultimatum in which they would have to leave Beijing. Further expressing their anti-foreigner sentiment, the Boxers launched an attack on Beijing, aiming specifically for foreign legations ??? the first assault of property being the burning down of the racecourse.
The foreigners defended their legations with minimal weapons and troops, with the Chinese Imperial Army acting in alliance, resulting in a large number of casualties from both sides. A call for a relief army was dispatched, only for the Boxers to intercept their path and significantly delay aid for the foreigners. The battle only ended when Empress Ci Xi declared a truce. This action impacted on the Qing dynasty as it further expressed their inability to rid China of the foreigners and to achieve their initial aims which they set.
This event could be considered an embarrassment to the government as they failed to rid Beijing of the foreigners and their legations; it also showed the ineffectiveness of the Boxer’s actions. These events collectively impacted significantly on China and the Qing dynasty. Through the Boxer’s inevitable loss, as they were outweighed greatly by western technologies, it impacted on the stability of China and contributed to a greater tax burden as the Imperial government was forced to raise money to repay the massive indemnities imposed by the foreign powers.
The Boxer’s failure to eliminate foreign exploitation from China added to the destabilisation and fracture of the Qing government, and this weakened government left China exposed to further foreign influences as well as enforced its need to modernise. This provided a clear representation that the Qing were not capable rulers of China and aided in the overthrow of the Qing in 1911. In general, the Boxer’s actions changed little and only resulted in negative impacts on both China as a whole and the Qing government.