On June 21, 1900, China’s Empress Dowager
d war on the Eight Nation Alliance—the United Kingdom, Russia, Japan, United States, Germany, Italy, France, and Austria-Hungary. The declaration was the height of the Boxer Rebellion, a violent anti-West
ern movement that was crushed a year later.
Members of the Militia United in Righteousness (Yihetuan)
were nicknamed “Boxers” by Westerners because of their practice of martial arts
and vigorous calisthenics
. The Boxer movement resent
ed what it interpret
ed as a growing and unfair Western and Japanese influence
in China—the expansion
of Western businesses, the outreach of Christian
missionaries, and the privilege
d treatment of Western residents. The Boxers and their supporters attacked and burned businesses and churches, and assault
ed and killed individuals. Christian missionaries were especially targeted.
The failure of the Boxer Rebellion led to a leadership crisis in China. This, in turn, contributed to the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, in which a republican government replaced the 2,000 year-old Chinese empire.