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Summary

The Boxer Rebellion saw impoverished Chinese peasants strike a blow against the Western powers, particularly the British, who had come to challenge China’s sovereignty. The uprising was both a harbinger of things to come for China and a by-product of simmering decades of friction between the Chinese and the British. The Chinese had been able to call the shots during the initial engagement of trade with the West, but lost control after the British began smuggling opium into the country. 

What was a lucrative product for British trade was devastating to the Chinese as addiction began to take its toll on the population. The British fought and won the Opium Wars, and with the victory came trade advantages that eroded China’s autonomy. By the late 1800s, humiliated by Chinese military defeats, enraged by the encroachment of Christian missionaries, and alarmed at the role that Western influence played in China’s politics, a group of rebels known as the Boxers, so-named because of their emphasis on physical fitness and the martial arts, rose up against the foreign enemy and set the stage for cataclysmic changes to come in China’s history.

©2021 Hourly History (P)2021 Hourly History

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