Boxer Rebellion, an unsuccessful attempt in 1900 by northern Chinese to drive foreigners from the country. Many Chinese believed that foreigners exploited them and that Western ideas undermined China's ancient culture. These Chinese especially resented missionaries' efforts to convert China to Christianity.
In 1900 a revolt was started by members of a Chinese secret political society named “Righteous Harmony Band.” Westerners called them Boxers because the name was wrongly translated into “Righteous Harmony Fists.” Tz'u-hsi, the dowager empress, and some government officials encouraged the uprising. The Boxers killed many missionaries and hundreds of Chinese Christians, and launched attacks to kill or expel all “foreign devils.” Among the Americans imperiled by an attack on Tientsin (Tianjin) were Herbert Hoover and his wife, later President and first lady of the United States.
The heaviest attack hit Beijing, where the Boxers killed the German minister to China and destroyed several legations. Diplomats and their families were besieged in the British quarters for nearly two months. Other foreigners took refuge in a Catholic church.
A force of about 16,000 British, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and United States troops rescued the diplomats and smashed the uprising. The allied forces occupied Beijing for nearly a year. The foreign powers forced China to accept humiliating terms, such as the permanent stationing of foreign troops in certain areas, and imposed indemnities totaling $333,000,000, to be paid in 39 annual installments. To keep the major foreign powers from dividing China up into spheres of influence, John Hay, secretary of state of the United States, persuaded them to adopt his “open door” policy, which gave all nations free and equal access to China's trade.
The United States in 1908 returned part of its indemnities to China. This money was to be used to educate Chinese students in the United States. In 1924 most of the other nations also agreed to leave the remaining payments in China to aid its educational system. The United States in 1943 gave up all claim to all further payments.