The Boxer Rebellion was a violent uprising in China which occurred at the turn of the 20th century. Although the rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, it sparked a number of reforms in Chinese society, ultimately paving the way towards the modernization of China. At the time, many people regarded the participants in the Boxer Rebellion as dangerous upstarts, although after the rise of communism in China, the government later praised the orchestrators of the rebellion for their activities.
The roots of the Boxer Rebellion lie in the “carving of the Chinese melon” orchestrated by the Western powers in the late 1800s. After being attacked by the Meiji empire of Japan, China was extremely vulnerable, and it became overrun with representatives of foreign governments, who began building railways, controlling various provinces, and essentially ensuring a strong “sphere of influence” in China, which many nations viewed as a potentially very profitable place to do business.
Understandably, the Chinese were less than thrilled with this state of affairs, and numerous anti-foreign organizations arose in China to work against the foreigners in China. One such organization was the Society of Right and Harmonious Fists, an anti-imperialist peasant organization which came to be known as the Boxers by Westerners, because of the extensive martial arts program practiced by its members.
In 1898, the Boxers began revolting in Northern China, attempting to expel foreigners from China. They attacked diplomats, businessmen, and other foreigners, and they also set their sights on Christian missionaries. Chinese Christians were also assaulted by the Boxers, who felt that Christian Chinese had clearly caved to foreign influences. By 1900, the Boxers had invaded Beijing, killing thousands of foreigners and Christians in their campaign to liberate China from Western influences.
The Boxer rebellion was subdued through the cooperation of several Western powers, including Germany, the United States, Japan, Russia, and France. Obviously, many of these nations had a vested personal interest in putting a stop to the Boxer rebellion, and they were undoubtedly pleased by the widespread calls for reform and change in the wake of their successful military action against the Boxers. After the rebellion, reparations to various foreign powers were ordered, along with the execution of top Chinese officials suspected of involvement in the Boxer Rebellion.