of August, a relief party was despatched to their assistance from the legations.
The ruin wrought in Peking during the two months’ fighting was appalling. Apart from the wholesale destruction of foreign property in the Tatar city, and of Chinese as well as European buildings in the vicinity of the legations, the Looting of Peking. wealthiest part of the Chinese city had been laid in ashes. The flames from a foreign drug store fired by the Boxers had spread to the adjoining buildings, and finally consumed the whole of the business quarter with all its invaluable stores of silks, curiosities, furs, &c. The retribution which overtook Peking after its capture by the international forces was scarcely less terrible. Looting was for some days almost universal. Order was, however, gradually restored, first in the Japanese and then in the British and American quarters, though several months elapsed before there was any real revival of native confidence.
So unexpected had been the rapid and victorious advance of
the allies, that the dowager-empress with the emperor and the
rest of the court did not actually leave Peking until
the day after the legations had been relieved. But
the Chinese court. the northern and western portions of the Tatar city had not yet been occupied, and the fugitives made good their escape on the 15th. When the allies some days later marched through the Forbidden City, they only found a few eunuchs and subordinate officials in charge of the imperial apartments. At the end of September, Field Marshal Count von Waldersee, with a German expeditionary force of over 20,000 men, arrived to assume the supreme command conferred upon him with the more or less willing assent of the other powers.
The political task which confronted the powers after the occupation of Peking was far more arduous than the military one. The action of the Russians in Manchuria, even in a treaty port like Niu-chwang, the seizure of the railway Restoration of order. line not only to the north of the Great Wall, but also from Shan-hai-kwan to Peking, by the Russian military authorities, and the appropriation of an extensive line of river frontage at Tientsin as a Russian “settlement,” were difficult to reconcile with the pacific assurances of disinterestedness which Russia, like the rest of the powers, had officially given. Great anxiety prevailed as to the effect of the flight of the Chinese court in other parts of the empire. The anti-foreign movement had not spread much beyond the northern provinces, in which it had had the open support of the throne and of the highest provincial officials. But among British and Americans alone, over 200 defenceless foreigners, men, women and children, chiefly missionaries, had fallen victims to the treachery of high-placed mandarins like Yü Hsien, and hundreds of others had had to fly for their lives, many of them owing their escape to the courageous protection of petty officials and of the local gentry and peasantry. In the Yangtsze valley order had been maintained by the energy of the viceroys of Nanking and Wu-chang, who had acted throughout the critical period in loyal co-operation with the British consuls and naval commanders, and had courageously disregarded the imperial edicts issued during the ascendancy of the Boxers. After some hesitation, an Indian brigade, followed by French, German and Japanese contingents, had been landed at Shanghai for the protection of the settlements, and though the viceroy, Liu Kun-yi, had welcomed British support, and even invited the joint occupation of the Yangtsze forts by British and Chinese troops, the appearance of other European forces in the Yangtsze valley was viewed with great suspicion. In the south there were serious symptoms of unrest, especially after Li Hung-Chang had left Canton for the north, in obedience, as he alleged at the time, to an imperial edict which, there is reason to believe, he invented for the occasion. The Chinese court, after one or two intermediate halts, had retired to Si-gan-fu, one of the ancient capitals of the empire, situated in the inaccessible province of Shen-si, over 600 m. S.W. of Peking. The influence of the ultra-reactionaries, headed by Prince Tuan and General Tung-fu-hsiang, still dominated its councils, although credentials were sent to Prince Ching and to Li Hung-Chang, who, after waiting upon events at Shanghai, had proceeded to Peking, authorizing them to treat with the powers for the re-establishment of friendly relations.
The harmony of the powers, which had been maintained with some difficulty up to the relief of the legations, was subjected to a severe strain as soon as the basis of negotiations with the Chinese government came to be discussed. Measures of reparation. While for various reasons Russia, Japan and the United States were inclined to treat China with great indulgence, Germany insisted upon the signal punishment of the guilty officials as a conditio sine qua non, and in this she had the support not only of the other members of the Triple Alliance, but also of Great Britain, and to some extent even of France, who, as protector of the Roman Catholic Church in Eastern countries, could not allow the authors of the atrocities committed upon its followers to escape effectual punishment. It was not until after months of laborious negotiations that the demands to be formally made upon the Chinese government were embodied in a joint note signed by all the foreign ministers on the 20th and 21st of December 1900. The demands were substantially as follows:
Honourable reparation for the murder of von Ketteler and of Mr Sugiyama, to be made in a specified form, and expiatory monuments to be erected in cemeteries where foreign tombs had been desecrated. “The most severe punishment befitting their crimes” was to be inflicted on the personages designated by the decree of the 21st of September, and also upon others to be designated later by the foreign ministers, and the official examinations were to be suspended in the cities where foreigners had been murdered or ill-treated. An equitable indemnity, guaranteed by financial measures acceptable to the powers, was to be paid to states, societies and individuals, including Chinese who had suffered because of their employment by foreigners, but not including Chinese Christians who had suffered only on account of their faith. The importation or manufacture of arms or matériel was to be forbidden; permanent legation guards were to be maintained at Peking, and the diplomatic quarter was to be fortified, while communication with the sea was to be secured by a foreign military occupation of the strategic points and by the demolition of the Chinese forts, including the Taku forts, between the capital and the coast. Proclamations were to be posted throughout China for two years, threatening death to the members of anti-foreign societies, and recording the punishment of the ringleaders in the late outrages: and the viceroys, governors and provincial officials were to be declared by imperial edict responsible, on pain of immediate dismissal and perpetual disability to hold office, for anti-foreign outbreaks or violations of treaty within their jurisdictions. China was to facilitate commercial relations by negotiating a revision of the commercial treaties. The Tsung-Li-Yamen was to be reformed and the ceremonial for the reception of foreign ministers modified as the powers should demand. Compliance with these terms was declared to be a condition precedent to the arrangement of a time limit to the occupation of Peking and of the provinces by foreign troops.
Under instructions from the court, the Chinese plenipotentiaries affixed their signatures on the 14th of January 1901 to a protocol, by which China pledged herself to accept these terms in principle, and the conference of ministers then proceeded to discuss the definite form in which compliance with them was to be exacted. This further stage of the negotiations proved even more laborious and protracted than the preliminary proceedings. No attempt was made to raise the question of the dowager-empress’s responsibility for the anti-foreign movement, as Russia had from the first set her face against the introduction of what she euphemistically termed “the dynastic question.” But even with regard to the punishment of officials whose guilt was beyond dispute, grave divergences arose between the powers. The death penalty was ultimately waived in the case even of such conspicuous offenders as Prince Tuan and Tung-fu-hsiang, but the notorious Yü Hsien and two others were decapitated by the Chinese, and three other metropolitan officials were ordered to commit suicide, whilst upon others sentences of banishment, imprisonment and degradation were passed, in accordance with a list drawn up by the foreign representatives. The question of the punishment of provincial officials responsible for the massacre of scores of defenceless men, women and children was unfortunately reserved for separate treatment, and when it came up for discussion it became impossible to preserve even the semblance of unanimity, the Russian minister at once taking issue with his colleagues, although he had originally pledged himself as formally as the others to the principle. Count