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The Boxer Protocol was signed on September 7, 1901, between the Qing Empire of China and the Eight-Nation Alliance that had provided military forces (Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) plus Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands after China's defeat in the intervention to put down the Boxer Rebellion at the hands of the Eight-Power Expeditionary Force. It is often regarded as one of the Unequal Treaties.
In Western countries, it was also known as the Treaty of 1901, Peace Agreement between the Great Powers and China. The full name of the protocol is Austria-Hungary, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, Spain, United States and China—Final Protocol for the Settlement of the Disturbances of 1900, reflecting its nature as a diplomatic protocol rather than a peace treaty at the time of signature.
In China, it was known as the Xinchou Treaty. It was later regarded as one of the "Unequal Treaties".
Negotiations during the Boxer Rebellion
The Qing dynasty was by no means defeated when the Allies took control of Beijing. The Allies had to temper the demands they sent in a message to Xi'an to get the Dowager Empress to agree with them; for instance, China did not have to give up any land. Many of the Dowager Empress's advisers in the Imperial Court insisted that the war be carried on against the foreigners, arguing that China could defeat the foreigners since it was the disloyal and traitorous people within China who allowed Beijing and Tianjin to be captured by the Allies, and the interior of China was impenetrable. Dong Fuxiang was also recommended by them to continue fighting. The Dowager was practical, and decided that the terms were generous enough for her to acquiesce and stop the war, when she was assured of her continued reign after the war.
The Boxer Protocol was signed on September 7, 1901, in the Spanish Legation in Beijing: Foreign Powers
- Kingdom of Spain, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Bernardo J. de Cólogan y Cólogan, the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps and the eldest diplomat of the Foreign Compound in Beijing.
- United Kingdom represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Ernest Mason Satow.
- Russian Empire, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Michael Nikolajewitsch de Giers.
- Empire of Japan, represented by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Komura Jutarō.
- French Republic, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Paul Beau.
- United States represented by the Special envoy William Woodville Rockhill.
- German Empire, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Alfons Mumm von Schwarzenstein.
- Austria-Hungary, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Baron Moritz Czikann von Wahlborn.
- Kingdom of Italy, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Giuseppe Salvago Raggi.
- Kingdom of Belgium, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Baron Joostens.
- Kingdom of the Netherlands, represented by the Minister plenipotentiary Fridolino Marinus Knobel.
- His Excellency Li Hongzhang, Earl of the First Rank Su-i, Tutor of the Heir Apparent, Grand Secretary of the Wen Hua Tien, Minister of Commerce, Superintendent of the Northern Ports, and Governor General of the province of Chihli.
- His Highness Yikuang, Prince Qing first Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet.
450 million taels of silver were to be paid as indemnity over a course of 39 years to the eight nations involved. Under the exchange rates at the time, 450 million taels was equal to US$335 million gold dollars or £67 million, approximately equal to US$6.653 billion today.
The Chinese paid the indemnity in gold on a rising scale with a 4% interest charge until the debt was amortized on December 31, 1940. After 39 years, the amount was almost 1 billion taels (precisely 982,238,150).
The sum was to be distributed as follows: Russia 28.97%, Germany 20.02%, France 15.75%, United Kingdom 11.25%, Japan 7.73%, United States 7.32%, Italy 7.32%, Belgium 1.89%, Austria-Hungary 0.89%, Netherlands 0.17%, and Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Norway 0.025%。 Also, additional 16,886,708 taels was paid at local level in 17 provinces. By 1938, 652.37 million taels had been paid. The interest rate (of 4% per annum) was to be paid semi-annually with the first payment being the July 1, 1902.
The Qing government was also to allow the foreign countries to base their troops in Beijing. In addition, the foreign powers had placed the Empress Cixi on their list of war criminals, although provincial officers such as Li Hongzhang and Yuan Shikai defended her, claiming that she had no control whatsoever over the whole escapade. She was later removed from the list, though she was to step down from power and discontinue any participation in the affairs of state.
Other clauses included:
- To prohibit the importation of arms and ammunition, as well as materials for the production of arms or ammunition for a period of 2 years, extensible further 2 years as the Powers saw necessary.
- Legation Quarters occupied by the Powers shall be considered as a special area reserved for their use under exclusive control, in which Chinese shall not have the right to reside, and which may be defensible. China recognised the right of each Power to maintain a permanent guard in the said Quarters for the defense of its Legation.
- Boxer and Government officials were to be punished for crimes or attempted crimes against the foreign Governments or their nationals. Many were either sentenced to execution, deportation to Turkestan, imprisoned for life, commit suicide, or suffer posthumous degradation.
- The "Office in Charge of Affairs of All Nations" (Zongli Yamen) was replaced with a Foreign Office, which ranked above the other six boards in the government.
- The Chinese Government was to prohibit forever, under the pain of death, membership in any anti-foreign society, civil service examinations were to be suspended for 5 years in all areas where foreigners were massacred or subjected to cruel treatment, provincial and local officials would personally be held responsible for any new anti-foreign incidents.
- The Emperor of China was to convey his regrets to the German Emperor for the assassination of Baron von Ketteler.
- The Emperor of China was to appoint Na't'ung to be his Envoy Extraordinary and direct him to also convey to the Emperor of Japan, his expression of regrets and that of his Government at the assassination of Mr. Sugiyama.
- The Chinese Government would have to erect on the spot of the assassination of Baron von Ketteler a commemorative arch inscribed in Latin, German, and Chinese languages.
- Concede the right to the Powers to occupy the following places:
|Traditional Chinese||Simplified Chinese||Pinyin||Translated names from early text|
The French Catholic vicar apostolic, Msgr. Alfons Bermyn, wanted foreign troops garrisoned in inner Mongolia, but the Governor refused. Bermyn resorted to lies, and falsely petitioned the Manchu Enming to send troops to Hetao where Prince Duan's Mongol troops and General Dong Fuxiang's Muslim troops allegedly threatened Catholics. It turned out that Bermyn had created the incident as a hoax. One of the false reports claimed that Dong Fuxiang wiped out Belgian missionaries in Mongolia and was going to massacre Catholics in Taiyuan.
Demands Rejected by China
The Qing did not capitulate to all the foreign demands. The Manchu Governor Yuxian was executed, but the Imperial court refused to execute the Chinese General Dong Fuxiang, although both were anti-foreign and had encouraged the killing of foreigners during the rebellion. Instead, General Dong Fuxiang lived a life of luxury and power in "exile" in his home province of Gansu.
In addition to not only sparing Dong Fuxiang, the Qing also refused to exile the Boxer supporter Zaiyi to Xinjiang, as the foreigners demanded. Instead, he moved to Alashan, west of Ningxia, and lived in the residence of the local Mongol prince. He then moved to Ningxia during the Xinhai Revolution when the Muslims took control of Ningxia, and finally, moved to Xinjiang with Sheng Yun.
On December 28, 1908, the United States remitted $11,961,121.76 of its share of the Indemnity to support the construction of Tsinghua University in Beijing.
When China declared war on Germany and Austria in 1917, it suspended the combined German and Austrian share of the Boxer Indemnity, which totaled 20.91 percent. At the Paris Peace Conference, Beijing succeeded in completely revoking the German and Austrian shares of the Boxer Indemnity.
The history surrounding Russia's share of the Boxer Indemnity is the most complex of all the nations involved. On December 2, 1918 the Bolsheviks issued an official decree abolishing Russia's share of the Indemnity (146). Upon the arrival of Lev Karakhan in Beijing during the Fall of 1923, however, it became clear that the Soviet Union expected to retain control over how the Russian share was to be spent. Though Karakhan was initially hesitant to follow the United States' example of directing the funds toward education, he soon insisted in private that the Russian share had to be used for that purpose and during February 1924, presented a proposal stating that the "Soviet portion of the Boxer Indemnity would be allocated to Chinese educational institutions."
On March 14, 1924, Karakhan completed a draft Sino-Soviet agreement stating "The government of the USSR agrees to renounce the Russian portion of the Boxer Indemnity." Copies of these terms were published in the Chinese press, and the ensuing positive public reaction encouraged other countries to match the USSR's terms. On May 21, 1924, the U.S. Congress agreed to remit to China the final $6,137,552.90 of the American share. Ten days later, however, it became apparent that the USSR did not intend to carry through on its earlier promise of full renunciation. When the final Sino-Soviet agreement was announced, it specified that Russia's share would be used to promote education in China and that the Soviet government would retain control over how the money was to be used, an exact parallel to the U.S. remittance of 1908.
On March 3, 1925, Great Britain completed arrangements to use its share of the Boxer Indemnity to support railway construction in China. On April 12, France asked that its indemnity be used to reopen a defunct Sino-French Bank. Italy signed an agreement on October 1 to spend its share on the construction of steel bridges. The Netherlands' share paid for harbor and land reclamation, and the Belgian funds were earmarked to be spent on railway material in Belgium. Finally, Japan's indemnity was transferred to develop aviation in China under Japanese oversight
Once these countries' approximately 40 percent of the Boxer Indemnity was added to Germany's and Austria's combined 20.91 percent, the United States' 7.32 percent, and the Soviet Union's 28.97 percent share, the Beijing government had accounted for over 98 percent of the entire Boxer Indemnity. Hence, by 1927, Beijing had almost completely revoked Boxer Indemnity payments abroad and had succeeded in redirecting the payments for use within China.
- Anglo-Chinese relations
- China Relief Expedition
- Boxer Rebellion
- Beijing Legation Quarter
- Imperial Decree on events leading to the signing of Boxer Protocol
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- Wikisource Xinchou treaty (Chinese)
- Text of Boxer Protocol, Peking 7. September 1901
- The Corner.org boxer protocol
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