One day in History: Murder of the German Ambassador in China

21.06.2017

On June 20, 1900 – German ambassador Clemens von Ketteler was killed by Chinese soldiers in Beijing . This event became a reason for sending a European expeditionary corps to China. Russia also stated a war with China in a month, in July, 1900.

In November, 1899, the Celestial Empire was involved in public uprisings, which were initiated by the Yihetuan movement (translated: a knuckle raised in the name of justice).

The movement used the doctrine of the Taoist sects. The Yihetuan rebels practiced physical exercises that reminded boxer fights and the Europeans called them boxers. "Death to foreigners!"; This was the slogan of the rebels. The movement received unofficial support from the ruling Empress Cixi, the aunt of the emperor (bogdyhan) Guangxu, whom she actually removed from power. But Cixi and her government did not dare support the open rebels. In the meantime, the Yihetuan movement enjoyed sympathy with most of the simple Chinese population.

On June 11 (23), 1900, the "holy orders" of the Yihetuan entered Beijing, where they began to kill foreigners and Christian Chinese, brutally exterminating them. The Chinese troops massively took the side of the Yihetuan.

At the beginning of the uprising in Russia, in St. Petersburg, people did not pay special attention to the events in China, however, Foreign Minisэter Li Hongzhan begged Emperor Nicholas II not to accept the events as the official actions of Beijing. The Russian government did nothing to strengthen the protection of the construction of the CER. Minister of Finance Sergei Vitte did not consider that it was necessary to inform the Emperor about a growing danger in this area. On June 24, the Chinese attacked the Russian construction units and completely killed them in an unequal battle. The Chinese besieged Harbin, which was overcrowded with refugees, and began artillery bombardment of Blagoveshchensk.

On June 21, Cixi declared war to the European states, including Russia, expressing her solidarity with the Yihetuan brothers. Nicholas II, realizing that the European invasion into China was inevitable, said: "It is necessary to exclude all ideas of dividing Chinese empire". Meanwhile, Western leaders considered the campaign to China as a penal semi-colonial operation. Nicholas II commented on this: "Russian task in the East completely disagrees with the policy of European states". On June 9, parts of the Amur Military District and the Ussuri Cossack troops were sent to fight against the China. On July 21, the Russian troops unblocked Harbin, and two days later the Trans-Baikal Cossack ground-brigade of Major-General Prince Nikolai Aleksandrovich Orlov destroyed a considerable Chinese troop near Ongun.

On August 1, Russian troops stormed Beijing, Manchuria and defeated the Chinese in the Blagoveshchensk area, freeing the CER area. On August 25 (September 7), Empress Cixi, seeing the defeat of the Yihetuan brothers, executed their high-ranking supporters and joined the coalition. The German and British members of the coalition started a cruel massacre against civilians. Russia hastened to pull away from this in every possible way, and quickly withdrew its troops from Beijing, strengthening its positions only in Manchuria.