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Yi-he-quan

Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists.

As Western intrusions like railroads threw more Chinese out of work in the late 19th century, they started getting really pissed. In response to the parsing-up of China into "spheres of influence" many Chinese joined various secret societies. The Yi he quan, an off-shoot of the White Lotus Society, became active among the peasants in Shandong in 1898.

Originally opposed to the Qing dynasty and foreigners, later just foreigners, they practiced kung fu (boxing) and had Buddhist magic amulets that protected them from bullets. Ci-xi was forced to replace the governor of Shandong with Yuan Shi-kai in December 1899.

The Boxers (as they were known in the West moved their activities to Zhili (Beijing), burning churches and railway stations, then took over Beijing in June, 1900. About 70 western troops defended the legation for 55 days against thousands of boxers. The ineffectiveness of their magic amulets was immortalized forever in the classic Chuck Heston flick, 55 Days in Peking.

Multinational forces arrived to defend the foreign legations. They trashed joint Boxer/Imperial forces from the coast to Tientsien and entered Beijing, looting and raping all the way. The treaty ending the war legalized the stationing of foreign troops within China.

Foreign and Chinese governments perpetuated the myth that the boxers were an anti-dynastic rebellion. The Communist-controlled official press of China says they were nationalists. In reality, they were just anti-foreign peasants, lashing out against the intrusions of an alien culture they were unprepared for.

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