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New Left Review I/19, March-April 1963


C. P. Fitzgerald

The Boxer Rebellion

At the turn of the century a peasant movement in North China known as the Society of the Harmonious Fist—and therefore before long nicknamed the “Boxers” by foreign residents—developed extreme xenophobic attitudes both to foreigners themselves and also to Chinese Christians and others who were deemed to be infected with foreign ways. Attacks upon missionaries and railway engineers—the most easily available foreigners—were followed by more serious onslaughts when the Manchu Court took up the movement and permitted the Boxers to enter Peking and assail the legations of the foreign powers. An international expedition was organised to relieve the besieged legations, and to punish the Chinese Imperial government for violating the laws of nations. Peking was taken, the Boxers dispersed, the Court fled to the interior, humiliating terms were imposed upon China, and within a few years the dynasty, its last shreds of prestige destroyed, fell.

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