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Sample essay topic, essay writing: The Boxer Rebellion - 869 words
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Throughout the nineteenth century China's emperors watched as foreign powers began to encroach closer and closer upon their land. Time after time, China was forced to make embarrassing concessions. Foreign militaries more modernly armed would constantly defeat the imperial armies. As the dawn of a new century was about to begin, Empress Tsu Hsi of the Ch'ing Dynasty searched for a way of ridding her empire of the foreign invaders. Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and Russia all claimed sole trading points to their selected "spheres of influence." Some of these countries' even claimed that the territory that lay within their spheres was their own. With the United States' recent acquisition of the Philippines, they too were now an Asian power just 400 miles away from Mainland China. This closeness resulted in American businesses hoping to take advantage of China's tremendous resources.
The various spheres of influence, however, challenged their ambitions.While Empress Hsi was determined to rid her country of outside influence, America was looking for a way in. Secretary of state John Hay sent letters to all foreign powers in the region calling for an "open door" policy that would grant equal trading rights within China. This would also ensure there would be no discriminating within the sphere. While the outside powers bickered over who would control China, Hsi issued an imperial message throughout China.The present situation is becoming daily more difficult. The various Powers cast upon us looks of tiger-like voracity, hustling each other to be first to seize our innermost territories. Should the strong enemies become aggressive and press us to consent to things we can never accept, we have no alternative but to rely upon the justice of our cause
If our hundreds of millions of inhabitants would prove their loyalty to their emperor and love their country, what is there to fear from any invader? Let us not think about making peace. (Wu Yang 48)In the northernmost Shandong province, few people were thinking about making peace. A secret society, known as the Fists of Righteous Harmony, attracted thousands of recruits. Outsiders called members of this society "Boxers" because they practiced martial arts. The Boxers also believed they had magical powers and could not be harmed. Their cause, at first was to overthrow the imperial Ch'ing government and expel all the "foreign devils." The Boxers changed direction when they received support of Qing officials and a crafty Empress.
The Boxers new slogan would become. "Support the Ch'ing-destroy the foreigner!" (Yale 212)Without restraining leadership or organization the Boxers began in early 1900 to raid outposts and symbols of western influence, including missions and foreign missionaries. The Boxers employed brutal attacks during their raids, including hacking men and women with swords, burning them alive and sometimes dragged and tortured through howling mobs before their execution. Nervous foreign ministers demanded Empress Hsi gain control of this murderous society. She ensured that the rebels would soon be crushed but she did nothing as the Boxers entered the capital.
Also, anti-foreign attitudes within the imperial court agreed with the Empress because all were ready to get rid of the imperialistic Western powers that made so many threats against them. Foreign diplomats, as well as their families and staff lived in a compound just outside of the Forbidden City's walls in the heart of Beijing. They threw up hasty defenses, and with a small force of military personnel, they faced the Boxer assault. The Boxers used human wave onslaughts against the besieged foreign civilians but were all stopped by the tiny force. The Boxers fell back but soon returned and soon surrounded the outpost. The foreigners could not escape or send for help.
For almost two months, they withstood fierce attacks and constant bombardment. Things looked bleak for the defenders. Food and ammunition was running low and hope was all but lost. At dawn during the fifth week of the siege, a relief force arrived to save the personnel at the outpost. After a month of no news form their diplomats, the foreign powers assembled an international relief force of soldiers from eight countries.
The United States, eager to rescue its ministers and to assert its presence in China, sent a contingent of 2,500 soldiers and Marines to China. After rescuing another besieged delegation in Tientsin, the international force-marched to Beijing, fighting Boxers and imperial soldiers along the way. The international troops looted the capital and even ransacked the Forbidden City. On August 14, 1900, disguised as a peasant, the empress escaped the city in a cart and the siege was lifted. She returned to the Forbidden City a year later, but the power of the Ch'ing Dynasty was destroyed forever.
The world cheered as civilization was restored, but it was hardly an enlightened ending. Many Chinese civilians died due to fire from both sides and while the European and American losses though were minimal, the number of Boxers killed is estimated to be around 20,000. The official punishment of China came in 1901; it was forced into virtual disarmament and fined 333 million in reparations, which over the next forty years would double with interest. But the cost of the Boxer Rebellion was more than just money; it was thousands of lives pursuing a belief.
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