The Boxer Rebellion Part 2
Patrick Harris -Following Seymour's failed rescue attempt, Allied forces in the area moved quickly. They took the strategically important Dagu forts near Tianjin, reinforcing their position with thousands of troops landing. The Allied powers involved, the U.K., Japan, Russia, Germany, France, the U.S., Italy and Austria Hungary, sent an ultimatum to Empress Cixi, demanding an immediate Chinese capitulation, and a turnover of China's military and finances to the Allies. She stood defiant, declaring China to be in a state of war. She ordered foreigners and the legations to leave Beijing. However, following the murder of the German ambassador, the remaining diplomats and foreigners refused to leave. The siege of the legation quarter was intensified, and it was surrounded by Chinese troops as well as Boxer rebels.
There was heavy fighting in the legations, with nearly 40% of their guards being killed. Under the command of the British Ambassador, Claude Maxwell MacDonald, the legations were defended for nearly two months against thousands of Chinese troops and Boxers. More can be found out about the siege of the legations here.
Meanwhile, a relief force of the "Eight Nation Alliance", as it had come to be called, had landed and took Tianjin. All together this force amounted to more than 50, 000 men. It encountered little resistance on it's way to Beijing.
Following several international incursions into China in preceding years, efforts had been made to modernize the Chinese army. Modern forts had been built and the soldiers armed with modern German weaponry. However, none of this was helpful, given the sheer lack of training the Chinese troops had, many of them fleeing their posts when they saw the Allied force approaching Beijing. The Allies had been brutal in their advance, indiscriminately killing Chinese civilians. Scorching temperatures forced the Allies to send out parties looking for water, many of whom were murdered by vengeful Chinese peasants and Boxers.
The first troops to reach Beijing were the forces of the British Indian Army, followed by the Americans and Japanese. The legations were relieved on August 14th 1901. Beijing and the surrounding area was occupied for a time afterwards, during which the worst atrocities were committed by the Allied troops and Anti-Boxer Chinese forces. Tens of thousands of people were killed in Anti-Boxer campaigns. Sites throughout the country were looted, the stolen property auctioned off to westerners, later to be taken back to Europe.
China was fined ~540,000,000 troy ounces of silver as reparation. Many government officials who had encouraged the killing of westerners and Christians were executed, though some escaped punishment and continued to be influential in China. The Allies stopped short of colonizing China, preferring to prop up the weak Imperial Regime. Parts of China were taken by Russia, but for the most part, China was left "independent". China would continue to be a fragmented place until the victory of Mao Zedong and his communists half a century later.