Translation:1900 National Upheaval

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1900 National Upheaval  (1923) 
by Li Xishen, translated from Chinese by Wikisource

Righteous Harmony Boxers began during Jiaqing Emperor era, it was practiced in secret and was strictly prohibited then, offenders were sentenced to a death of thousand cut. In Hebei and Shangdong, there are still secret followers. In 1900 Yuxiang was Shangdong governor, the practice of Righteous Harmony Boxer has become popular, they have a flag that say 'Support the Qing Dynasty, Exterminate the foreigners'. After the failure of Hundred Days' Reform, Kang Youwei escaped and went under the protection of England, Empress Dowager was very angry.

On Winter of 1899, Prince Duan plotted to overthrow Guangxu Emperor by appointing his own son Zaijun as the next on line for the royal throne, China was shocked, people at the East South provinces were very angry, more than one thousand names were collected on a petition organised by Yuanshan. Emperor Dowager was extremely angry, ordered the arrest of Yuanshan, who then escape to Macao, under the protection of foreigners. Prince Duan was very angry, day and night he was planning on revenge.

Harmonious Boxers had begun to infiltrate into Peking, their members increasing, they had siege Laisui County, the county magistrate was requesting the dispatch of government troops, the Hebei governor Yulu then sent Yang Futong to exterminate the boxer. Boxer killed Yang Futong. Harmonious Boxers then attacked Zhuozhou County, local magistrate Pang Yinpei sent out distress signal, Peking city official He Naiyin holding a Imperial Decree but was restricted in movement. Empress Dowager then sent Justice Ministry Zhao Xuqiao, Grand Scholar Ganyi and He Naiyin to Zhuozhou county, and they returned to Peking. Grand Scholar Ganyi returned to see Empress Dowager, strongly praised the Boxers, that they are reliable and loyal to the Imperial Court. Boxers were into burning railroad, destroying telegraphic lines, tens of thousands entered Peking City, and many worshiping shrines were being set up.

The gods of the boxers are Hongjun old grandfather and Lishan old mother, they often emerged at nightfall, amid fire and dance of shaman, have the power to stop guns and cannons from firing.

They can start a fire by pointing towards the sky, no knife or spears could harm their body. They often order common people to worship in the direction of South-East, no one dare to show disobedience.

They publicly advocated the hatred towards Christianity, accusing Guangxu Emperor as the head of the Christian Church. Empress Dowager and Prince Duan together plotted to overthrow Guangxu Emperor, so they supported the boxer. Boxer bandit gangs had free access to the Forbidden City at will, they can come and go anytime. Boxer bandits openly boasted that they will exterminate all the foreigners, they rejected any royal gifts or rewards, instead, they want the heads of one dragon and two tigers. Guangxu Emperor is the dragon, Prince Qing and Li Hongzhang are the tigers.

On the 26 year of Guangxu Emperor, 10 May(lunar calander), Russian ambassador Geyuxi forwarded a letter, "Rioters numbers are increasing each day, England and France are using them, these will cause harm to China. Russia and China had been good neighbors for more than 200 years, it is our duty to inform. " Zongli Yamen had received the letter, but dare not forward it to the Imperial Court. The Russian diplomat wanted to see the Emperor, but no answer was offered.

On the 14th day, Board of rite Chixiu, Board of work Fuxin, Grand scholar Natong were admitted into Zongli Yamen, Prince Duan was in charge of administration.

On the 15th day, Japan legation staff Sugiyama was traveling out of Yong Ding Gate, Dong Fuxiang sent soldiers to kill him on the street, and his body was mutilated.

On the 17th day, boxer bandits were torching homes of Chinese Christians converts, be they old, young, or female, were all killed indiscriminately.

On the 18th day, boxer bandits went inside of Xuan Wu Gate, torching many Churches. The Xuan Wu Gate was closed in the daytime, Peking was plunged into chaos. The Imperial Court issued decrees two days in a row, stated that rioting boxer bandits should be exterminated, yet the bandits were spreading their activity.

On the 20th day, bandits burnt 4000 plus shops outside of Zhen Yang Gate, this was the precinct of rich merchants of Peking, the pinnacle of hundreds of years of commerce. The city wall was burnt, the fire lighted up the sky for three days and three nights.

On that day, nine ministers of the six Boards were called to the Imperial Court. Empress Dowager was weeping, and showing Lo Jiajeh's letter to the ministers, they all look at each other, no one dare to speak out first.

Board of civil service Xu Jingteng:"China has engaged with foreigners for many years, the conflicts and fighting between common people and Christians converts happen every year, monetary compensation would settle these disputes; but to put diplomats under siege and kill them, there is no precedent inside or outside China. The boxer bandits are constantly eyeing the Peking foreign diplomatic legations, the fall is expected anytime, once they fall, where are we going to find a safe place for the clan of Aisin Jioro?"

Board of worship and rite Yuan Xi:"There should not be any war against the foreigners, right now the rioters are being encouraged, the disaster will be uncontrollable, one day the whole country will be plunged into internal turmoil and external invasions, there would not be a country left. " Yuan Xi's highly emotional voice shattered the palace roof tiles. Empress Dowager stared at him with eyes of daggers.

Tai Chan Temple official said:"Boxer bandits are not accountable", another official said:"These are righteous people, I come from Tong County, the righteous people did protect Tong County."

Guangxu Emperor replied: "The support from the righteous people is not sustainable, it would only help to create chaos. Nowadays many people like to raise the issue of military action, but they just need to look at the harm caused by the Korean military intervention. The foreign powers are ten times stronger than Japan, once they joint force and attack us, what can we use for defense?"

Prince Duan said:"Dong Fuxiang had been successful in exterminating the Hui rebellion, he should be able to defeat the foreigners. " Guangxu Emperor said:"Dong Fuxiang is too arrogant, not dependable. The enemy has powerful weapons, their soldiers are highly trained, much more advance than Hui people."

Scholar Chu Zumoi is a rascal. Prince Duan then made some scornful remarks, Guangxu Emperor just kept quiet. Nearly all the ministers have left the Court, Zailan and Gan Yi together present a statement, saying:"The righteous boxers are accountable, they do have mighty mystic power, can use them to seek revenge and cleanse our shame." Zailiang also make a statement:"Do not lose the opportunity, please kill anyone who are against the war. " Everyone that heard it all feel very sad, they called the Boxer bandits evil spirits which will be exterminated, but they were so afraid of Empress Dowager, they dared not utter a single word.

On that day, Zhao Natong and Xu Jingteng went to Yang Village to communicate with foreign soldiers, they could not enter the village, midway they were being robbed by boxer bandits, Xu Jingteng nearly lost his life. Some foreign soldiers were trying to reach the legations, but they were too low in numbers, they had to return to where they came from.

On the 21st day, six boards and nine ministries were summoned at the Court. Empress Dowager said:"The Emperor intent to maintain peace with the foreigners, he dismiss the idea of military actions, I am confused, in today's court session, everyone can speak out." Board of war minister Xu Yongyi said:" Military action will not benefit China, and we should not be the first to start the war." Emperor Guangxu said:"It is not that we ban any discussion of military action, the fact that China has been a weak nation for long time, and lack of reliable military force, if we are to use those rioters for the purpose of passion, that is pushing the luck to the extreme." Scholar Liu Yongheng said:"The extermination of rioters should be as soon as possible, if not, there will be unforeseeable disasters. " Prince Duan said:"These righteous people were peasants, they are not afraid of death, are prepared to sacrifice for the country, if they are being eliminated as rioters, people are longer loyal, who is left to defense the country? " Guangxu Emperor said:"These rioters are like a flock of birds, how can they fight the foreigners with only blood and flesh? Their loyalty is just empty talk, why do we treat human life as a game of children? " At this stage Empress Dowager and Prince Duan just keep their silence. Minister of Board of Finance Lih San is a favorite of Empress Dowager, replied:"Though the righteous boxer do not have other motives, still, their magic power is often useless." Prince Duan replied with anger:"What is important is their loyalty, not their power! Lih San dare to retort on this Court, he must have colluded with foreigners, if the Court order Lih San to fight the foreigners, foreigners shall retreat. " Lih San applied:"Prince Duan had suggested military action first, he knows best. I do not know anything about foreigners, plus that is not my job." Princess Dowager replied:"Prince Henry of Germany was here, if he is supplied with goods, he should be happy." Prince then called Lih San a traitor, Lih San protested. Empress Dowager ask them to cease the argument, then called off the session. Empress Dowager then sent Xu Yongyi, Lih San and Scholar Lian Yan to the legations: "Do not call any more soldiers, if you do, the good faith is lost."

On the 22 day, Grand Scholars, six boards and nine ministers were called at the Imperial Court. Prince Duan called for military attacks at the foreign legations, Empress Dowager gave permission. Lian Yan raised his voice with emotion:"No can do, if the diplomats were killed, foreigners enter Peking, not only human, chickens and dogs will perish." Prince Duan replied:"Lian Yan worked for the foreigners, if we kill him, the foreign soldiers will retreat." Empress Dowager is very angry, ordered his immediate execution, but he was saved by action of Prince Juan. Lian Yan and Prince Juan were both Baoyi Aha. Grand Scholar Wang Wenshao said:"Since 1894, China is short in finance and weak on military, the comparison of power is apparent, once the war begin, there will not be a good ending, I wish Empress Dowager will think it over three more times. " Empress Dowager stood up in rage, her hand hit the table and yelled:" All these discussions I have heard many times, just a waste of time. Let me see, if any one of you can stop foreigner soldiers fro entering Peking, if not, I shall execute you." Wang Wenshao dare not retort. Guangxu Emperor held Xu Jinteng hand and weep:"I am ready to die anytime, but feel sad for the suffering of all the common people." Empress Dowager pretended to comfort the Emperor, yet still angry at Xu Jinteng.

Empress Dowager had made up her mind, with the full support of Prince Duan, Zaixun, Zailian, Zailan, Gan Yi, Xu Tong, Zhong Yi, Qi Xui, Zhao Xujiao, she then issued a Imperial Decree to promote boxer bandits into Righteous Boxers, awarded with 100 thousands taels of silver. Prince set up a shrine for the boxer, worshiped at morning and evening. Empress Dowager had a shrine set up inside the Forbidden City. From then on, all the robbers from Hebei and Shangdong began to claim that they are going to exterminate the foreigners. Inside Peking City, there were looting and burning in the daytime, fire burning day and night, smoke and flames filled the skyline. Thousands and thousands of bandits with red scarf, roaming the city, common people dare not look at them with straight eyes. Bandits would picked people whom they disliked, accused them of being Christians, killed the whole family, more than one hundred thousands people perished. Bandits used knife and spears to kill, body parts split open, newborn babies also been killed, with no humanity, yet Empress Dowager summoned the leaders of the boxers into the palace and awarded them with gifts and cash.

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