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This post was edited by stealth at 2011-12-27 00:54|
Rare photos of a turning point in Chinese history: Invasion, Enslavement, Nationalism & Rebellion
The year 1900 marks a turning point in the history of Asia. A glorious Asian nation with centuries old civilizational values, losing its chastity and being broken into pieces, turned into a colony of alien invaders. However, out of the chaos and bloodbath which lasted for years, a great sense of nationalism was finally born. This sense of nationalism would make history in the days ahead.
In 1900, China’s glory days were indeed behind her. China was a nation in decline. In 1900, China was heavily controlled by foreign nations who tended to dominate the ports such as Shanghai. China was ruled by the Qing family, though the family is better known as the Manchu’s.
The Nineteenth Century has seen a marked involvement in China by Indo European powers. Wars - the so-called "Opium Wars" - between China and Britain and France led to defeats for China. She also had to hand over to Britain the strategically important port of Hong Kong. In 1894-95, Japan attacked China. This also led to defeat and Japan took Korea, Formosa (Taiwan) and Port Arthur from China.
One consequence of these wars was that China lost effective control of her lucrative sea ports. 50 of China’s most prosperous ports were deemed "treaty ports" which meant that they were open to foreign trade and residence. Indo European nations also divided up China into spheres of influence and in these spheres the European nation involved all but ran it. The wishes of the Chinese were ignored. This, understandably, created a great deal of resentment amongst the Chinese.
The Manchu dynasty took the blame for this situation. Their position was unaffected by the Indo European ‘take-over’ of China. There were rebellions against the rule of the Manchu’s. The most infamous - the Taiping Rebellion - lasted from 1850 to 1864. In this time 600 cities were ruined and as many as 20 million people were killed. Vast areas of fertile land were destroyed - which China could not afford to lose. The Manchu’s only restored their power with the help of Indo European nations. Though this was successful, it made the Manchu’s even more hated by the Chinese people.
The Manchu family could not allow this hatred to continue. In 1898, the emperor Guangxu introduced a batch of reforms during the so-called Hundred Days of Reform. Those reforms, however, were never introduced. A rebellion at court, lead by Guangxu’s aunt, Cixi, led to him being imprisoned. Cixi was given the power to rule China in his place. She opposed these reforms and they were never introduced.
Therefore, in 1900, China remained a nation dominated by Indo European nations led by a highly conservative court which did not wish to see reforms as they believed they would weaken the Manchu’s power a nation where many millions detested all that the Manchu’s stood for a nation where foreigners were hated.
It would only be natural to expect a movement to grow to fight against those who ruled China. This was the Yi-Ho Tuan movement - the Boxers.
The Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion targeted both the Manchu dynasty in China and the influence of European powers within China. Though the Boxer Rebellion failed but it did enough to stir up national pride within China itself..
In 1895, China had been defeated by Japan. This was a humiliation for the Chinese as Japan had always been considered as a lesser nation to China. China lost control of Korea and Formosa to Japan..
Apparently this defeat was entirely because of the Indo Europeans who were dominant in China and that they alone were responsible for China’s defeat.
Many Chinese began to feel the same. It was believed that the Indo Europeans were driving China’s domestic and foreign policy and that the situation was getting out of control. By the end of the Nineteenth Century, a strong sense of nationalism swept over China and many wanted to reclaim China for the Chinese. In 1898, these feelings boiled over into rebellion.
The rebellion began in north China in the Shantung Province. This province was a German sphere of influence and Germany dominated the rail lines, factories and coal mines that existed in Shantung. The Germans made considerable profits while the Chinese there were paid very poor wages and lived very poor lifestyles.
In Shantung, gangs of Chinese people roamed the streets chanting "Drive out the foreign devils". Germans who lived in Shantung as well as the European missionaries were asked to leave China. Those Chinese who had converted to Christianity were looked down upon.
Those behind the Shantung rebellion belonged to a secret society called Yi Ho Tuan – which meant "Righteous Harmony Fists" when translated into English. This was known in history as the Boxer Rebellion.
By 1900, the rebellion had started to spread across northern China and included the capital Peking. One of the targets of the Boxers was the Manchu government. They were seen as being little more as unpatriotic stooges of the Indo European ‘masters’ who did nothing for national pride.
The inspiration behind the Manchu government was the Empress Dowager. She was nicknamed "Old Buddha" – but never to her face. She had been married to the former emperor and was a very clever person. Empress Dowager Tzu realized what was going on and made secret contact with the Boxers offering them her support. This they accepted. This allowed the Boxers to turn their full attention to the Indo European colonizers.
Peking had many Indo European colonizers living in it in 1900. Their lifestyle was completely different to that of the Chinese who lived in the city. The Indo Europeans effectively treated the Chinese in Peking as their slaves. It was not surprising that the Boxers found many ready supporters in Peking.
In June 1900, it became clear that the Indo Europeans could no longer live in China as “colonial masters” and many of them prepared to leave the city.
To suppress the rebellion, therefore, the Indo Europeans went on a rampage in Peking – after being effectively urged on by the officers commanding them. Peking was extensively damaged. The Chinese government was also ordered to pay $450 million in compensation – a vast sum of money for any nation let alone one as poor as China. The Indo European force, now supported by the Manchus, started killing the Boxers. Those caught were given little mercy and they were beheaded in public as signs of warning to their comrades. The Manchus were effectively forgiven as was the Dowager Empress despite her apparent support to the nationalist cause. She and her family were allowed to return to the Forbidden Palace in Peking facing no punishment other than European nations re-establishing their authority over the Chinese. She had no other choice but to be compliant.
Millions of Chinese civilians were ruthlessly executed by the British, French, Indian, German and Russian forces. Chinese women were gang raped. Houses were burnt down. Buildings were ravaged. China was plundered. Humanity had never seen such a bloody massacre before. The genocide still stands as the largest of its kind in magnitude and degree. A few photographs still bear the witness to it. A random presentation is being made below.