Imperial Decree on events leading to the signing of Boxer Protocol
This Imperial Decree is issued on 26 December(lunar calendar), Guangxu 26 (1900).
In summer 1900, Boxer bandits carried out a rebellion, attacking friendly foreign nations. I (Guangxu Emperor) had accompanied Empress Dowager to inspect the western provinces, Peking was in total chaos. Prince Qing and Grand Scholar Li Hongzhang had been given the full mandate to represent the Imperial Court, to negotiate a cease fire and a peace treaty with all the foreign diplomats. Yesterday Prince Qing sent a telegram, detailing the twelve clauses of the peace treaty. I(Guangxu Emperor) have agreed in general.
I(Guangxu Emperor) again sent telegram to instruct the minister to patiently work out and double check the finer details to fully utilize China's resources in offering foreign nations to their total satisfaction. The Imperial Court is fully aware of this regrettable disaster. It is more than reasonable to issue a Decree on those Imperial misdeeds [??], and since the Imperial Court has suffered unspeakable hardship and disgrace, it is the Imperial Court's obligation to give a clear explanation to all my ministers and all people under the Heaven.
This disaster was caused by conflicts and disputes between Boxers and Chinese Christians converts. Ignorant people claim that it was because our country encouraged and protected bandits, escalating it into an upheaval. They did not know that during May and June(lunar calendar) the court issued many decrees, calling for the extermination of the Boxers and the protection of Christian converts, but those rebellious people, despite numerous Imperial Decrees being issued to prohibit the practice of Boxers, they continue to create chaos that will plunge the country into extinction. At the upheaval on July 26 (lunar calender), I (Guangxu Emperor) and Empress Dowager were ready to sacrifice our life for the country, in order to express gratitude to the spirits of all the ancestors. It was a moment of extreme confusion, sadness and pain. Help came from some princes and ministers. Eventually we were able to stumble out of Peking. Amidst a forest of guns and countless bomb shells raining down, we were able to flee to western provinces for a hunting trip. The Empress Dowager was frightened and in danger, the Aisin Gioro clan was in danger, clothing and hats were thrown into ditches. All these sufferings were caused by the Boxer bandits, therefore who can claim that the Royal Court was offering protection for them?
This upheaval and chaos was initiated by the Boxer bandits and their supporters who went into rebellion. Certainly there were reasons behind this. Foreign nations had been preaching Christianity in China for a long time. In dealing with disputes between locals and the Christian churches, the local magistrates did not always act impartially: those who tried to avoid controversy would favor the Churches, causing harm to the locals; those who are into making a big name of themselves would do the opposite. The local magistrates were out of ways to deal with these problems, thus the hatred between these two groups deepened. The Boxer bandits then took advantage start a war. The local magistrates are the ones at fault that daily unresolved conflicts burst into uncontrollable upheaval. The Shangdong Boxer bandits burned churches and destroyed roads, so the Court had dispatched army to exterminate this rebellion. But the Lian Army was without discipline, which caused harm to the common people. Moreover, the Boxer bandits focused hatred towards Christian churches and never disturbed the local neighborhood. This is why the people began to love the bandits and feared the Emperor's soldiers. The bandit's influence rose and their group increased in numbers. This was the fault of commanding generals. Those bandits, using evil speech and twisted theory, incited and seduced uneducated people, even among princes and ministers. Some were young and wanton, some were ignorant. They were jealous of the military might of the foreigners, did not understand their own shortcomings, were taken in by the devils and the fake. Believing in the magic power of the Boxers, they began to practice at their own homes as well as in the streets and the market places. Once they were supplied with rations and weapons, Boxers began with two or three people and now they have tens of millions followers. I(Guangxu Emperor) and Empress Dowager, insisting on capturing the leaders and disbanding this bandit group, gave Ganyi a special Imperial Court order to pronounce a ban, yet with no result. Instead, tens of thousands of rebels, daring to wear red scarfs and carrying knives, roamed the capital, burned and looted churches, besieged and attacked foreign embassies.
The Empress Dowager had been dictating national policy behind a curtain for the last 40 years. I (Guangxu Emperor) always respected her majesty and was eager to receive her majesty's kind teaching, kindness to neighboring nations and protection for the churches, all of which were benevolent policy. Under heaven, people with righteousness are not murderers and arsonists; national policy should not lean towards bandits and breaking up international alliance at will. At the moment when the foreign legations were being surrounded, several decrees were directed at the Zongli Yamen, requesting ministers to go and stop any aggressive attacks and offer solace to the diplomats, but the Royal Decrees were never delivered, no ministers went. During all the confusion, no explanation was ever put forward. Had the foreign legations being subjected to the full force of bombardment, would those buildings still be intact today? The reasons why worse disasters had been prevented, was precisely because the Imperial Court intervened with full force, even frequently sending fruits and beverage to the foreigners. All you foreigners need to understand, and show appreciation that the Empress Dowager has a kind heart. On this peace treaty, our sovereignty is kept intact, no territorial land annexation had been requested, the Royal court is mindful of the understanding of the foreign power, is resentful of (boxer bandits) ignorant violent acts, in retrospect, a mix of regret and anger. Since the peace treaty had been agreed upon, we shall just leave it as that.