Battle of Peking

The Rise of Japan

East Asia 1900.0814

Battle of Peking

The Rise of Japan, the Spanish-American War, and the Boxer Rebellion (14 August 1900)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

The Chinese Empire considered the Eight-Nation intervention to suppress the Boxer Rebellion a violation of its sovereignty and declared war on the foreign powers. At the same time, Chinese troops and Boxers besieged the International Legations in Peking. However the Allies successfully broke through the siege, forcing the Empress Dowager to flee her capital.

Notes

Treaty Ports

Treaty ports - the small unlabelled circles on the map - were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China, Japan, and Korea. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Only treaty ports that were opened by treaty and used are shown on the maps. Treaty ports are also not generally shown in places which are already covered by concessions or under occupation. Treaty ports are not shown after the 1911 Chinese Revolution, although they continued on into the 1940s.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

Battle of the Taku Forts

With the Boxers menacing Peking and Tianjin, warships of the Eight-Nation Alliance entered the Hai River on 16 June 1900 and took up positions outside the strategic Taku Forts. Early the following morning, the Chinese garrison opened fire on the fleet but were dislodged when the Allies mounted a ground assault on the forts at dawn.

Siege of the International Legations

The anti-foreign Boxers overran Peking (today Beijing), forcing 900 soldiers, marines, and foreign civilians, and about 2,800 Chinese Christians to take refuge in the Peking Legation Quarter. The Qing government of the Chinese Empire soon sided with the Boxers, resulting in a 55-day siege of the International Legations by both the Qing Army and the Boxers. The defending force - mostly British, American, French, German, Japanese, and Russian - held out until relieved by the international Gaselee Expedition.

Imperial declaration of war

Facing an international intervention in China to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, the Empress Dowager Cixi issued the Imperial Decree of declaration of war against the foreign powers - France, Germany, Japan, the Russian Empire, the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. The declaration was made in the name of the Guangxu Emperor, who had been placed under house arrest by his mother, and legitimized the Boxers in their war to expel the foreigners.

Mutual Protection of Southeast China

The governors of the provinces of southern and eastern China secretly agreed to the Mutual Protection of Southeast China, openly rejecting Empress Dowager Cixi's declaration of war on the foreign powers as a 'faked decree'. They were supported by the Minister of Telegraphy, who stopped the imperial decree from going public. By refusing to support the Empress Dowager or the Boxers, the southeast provinces asserted their independence and helped avoid foreign intervention in their regions.

Battle of Tientsin

In mid-June 1900, the Boxers besieged the foreign concessions in Tianjin (then called Tientsin). Although the Eight-Nation Alliance relieved the foreign settlement on 23 June, the city of Tianjin itself remained in Chinese hands and only fell after 6,900 Allied soldiers mounted a bloody two-day assault on it in July.

Battle of Peking

After defeating Boxer and Imperial Chinese forces in several encounters, the troops of the Eight-Nation Alliance reached the gates of Peking at about 3:00am on 14 August. By 4:30pm, the Americans had broken through to the International Legation Quarter, relieving the two-month Boxer siege. The Allies entered the Forbidden Palace the next day, prompting the Empress Dowager Cixi and her followers to flee to Xian in disguise.

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