Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Open Door Policy, Boxer Uprising, and U.S. Imperialism
On this date in 1900, the Righteous Harmony Society began a 55-day siege against primarily European powers stationed to protect their economic interests in Beijing. This resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 civilians, 32,000 Chinese Christians, and 200 American and European missionaries stationed in the country. Ultimately, what was referred to by the Chinese as the Yihetuan Movement and the Boxer Rebellion by the Europeans, would be the beginning of the end for the Qing Dynasty. How and why did this happen?
The Boxer uprising took place in a context of a crippled economy and a severe drought in China, but also the growing economic and political influence of outsiders. Only two years after the U.S. won the booty of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in the Spanish American War and while the U.S. was still fighting against Filipino rebels, Secretary of State John Hay issued a series of notes describing the United States' position toward China. The Open Door Policy, as it would be labeled, argued that multiple European powers, the United States, and Japan should have open access to trade in China. As these nations began to stake their economic claims, a resistance movement began to gain traction. The Open Door Policy and related Boxer uprising is often dwarfed in U.S. history classes by the Spanish American War and territorialization of Hawaii in the same period, but offer an important case study for students on U.S. imperialism and helps explain the long and contention relationship between China and the United States.
Here are several resources on the Open Door Policy and the Boxer Rebellion, which can be a starting point for teachers in helping students understand the varying historical perspectives of these events.