Russian troops are fighting in Beijing
120 years ago, Russian troops were the first to break into Beijing. The fall of the Chinese capital predetermined the defeat of the uprising of the ihetuan ("boxers"). As a result, the Chinese Empire fell into an even greater political and economic dependence on foreign powers.
Semi-colony of the West
The opium wars with England and France, which were unsuccessful for the Qing Empire (China), the defeat in the Franco-Chinese War for Vietnam in 1883-1885, the defeat from Japan (1894-1895) were accompanied by the loss of territories, a reduction in the Chinese sphere of influence and led to the transformation Celestial Empire to the semi-colony of the West and Japan. Russia was also involved in this process, as it used the Sino-Japanese War to include in its sphere of influence Northeast Manchuria (“Yellow Russia”) and to occupy Port Arthur.
China was a tasty prey for the imperialist powers. Huge territory, resources, population, market for their goods. Thousands of years of historical and cultural heritage that could be plundered. The West (first of all Britain) put the Chinese people on opium. In return, they exported the treasures of China, its silver. The people were in a narcotic intoxication, the administrative structures were corrupted and corrupted. By the end of the XNUMXth century, a financial noose was thrown on the Celestial Empire. Europeans import capital, but not for the development of the state, but for its further enslavement. They build their enterprises, railways, "lease" land. Foreigners are outside the legal field of the country, which opens up wide opportunities for various abuses and crimes. China is being torn apart into spheres of influence. The central government is weak, local governors and generals rule by foreigners. Conditions have been created for the complete colonization of the country and its division.
At the same time, the West is indoctrinating the population in order to facilitate the final slavery of Chinese civilization. To cut off the people from their origins and roots, to prevent the Chinese from following the path of national revival. Train them to be "humble and submissive." Foreign missionaries were actively promoting Christianity - Catholics and Protestants. In the 1890s, not a single province remained in the Qing Empire where missionaries had not settled. By 1900, there were 2800 Protestant missionaries alone. In Shandong province, where the boxer movement was born, there were over 230 foreign priests with about 60 parishioners. At the same time, the missions intensified the economic exploitation of the Chinese people: they had a large amount of land, could use the Chinese, and stood above the Chinese law (this was also used by local parishioners). That is, another caste of the “chosen ones” was formed.
The division of China by the European powers and Japan. Caricature of 1890's
Hatred of "foreign devils"
It is clear that the shameless robbery of the country and the people, the plundering of the national and cultural heritage, theft and predation of both their corrupted officials and foreigners aroused the hatred of the common people. “Could the Chinese,” V. Lenin wrote in 1900, “not hate people who came to China only for profit, who used their vaunted civilization only for deception, plunder and violence, who waged wars with China in order to obtain the right to sell opium intoxicating people ... who hypocritically covered up the policy of robbery with the spread of Christianity? "
As a result, China was engulfed in a powerful popular uprising (peasant war). In 1898, spontaneous outbreaks of popular riots began everywhere, directed against local officials, feudal lords, foreign missionaries and their followers. The main participants in the movement were the peasants, exploited by both local feudal lords and foreigners; artisans, handicraftsmen, whose products could not withstand competition with cheaper foreign goods produced in an industrial way, and the oppression of high taxes; transport workers (boatmen, longshoremen, coolies) who lost their jobs due to the development of new modes of transport (railways, steamships) associated with foreign influence. Also, the uprising was supported by many Taoist and Buddhist monks who opposed the spread of foreign ideology and the westernization of the country. The struggle of the people was inspired by secret religious and mystical organizations. Also, declassed elements, urban and rural “bottom”, criminals and robbers, whose main motive was robbery, took part in each uprising.
Initially, the struggle of the people against "foreign devils" was supported by many representatives of the Chinese elite, among which nationalist ideas developed. Among them were governors, high dignitaries, representatives of the nobility, the imperial court and officials. Many of them wanted to use the uprising in their own interests, to seize profitable enterprises and lands owned by foreigners, to take higher posts in the empire, etc.
The guiding core of the movement was the secret alliance "Yihetuan" - "Detachments of Justice and Harmony (Peace)". Or, in other words, "Ihetsuan" - "Fist in the name of justice and peace." This society in its ideology, traditions and organization went back centuries. In particular, to the "White Lotus" society. It was a mystical-religious organization whose members often practiced traditional Chinese martial arts. Therefore, they were called "boxers". Over the XNUMXth century, secret alliances radically changed their slogans. At the beginning of the century, they carried out anti-Qing activities with the slogan "Down with Qing, restore Ming!" and for this they were severely persecuted by the authorities. At the end of the century, the main opponents of the "boxers" were foreigners. The slogan "Let's Support Qing, Death to Foreigners!" The rebels did not have a well-developed program. The main task is the destruction and expulsion of "bearded devils" from the Celestial Empire. This was to lead to the restoration of the Chinese Empire. In addition, auxiliary tasks were the "purge" of corrupt officials, the overthrow of the Manchu Qing dynasty and the restoration of the Chinese Ming dynasty.
The Qing government did not have a unified position regarding the rebels. However, the group, led by the chief of the sacrifice order Yuen Chan and the assistant minister of officials Xu Jing-cheng, wanted to maintain "friendship" with foreign powers and insisted on ruthless reprisals against the rebels. In addition, many dignitaries feared anti-Qing sentiments. Another court faction wanted to use the uprising to limit foreign influence in the country and strengthen the empire. Its leaders were Vice-Chancellor Gang Yi and Prince Zai Y. As a result, the authorities supported the rebels with one hand, established contacts with their leaders, declared that they viewed their troops as patriots who were fighting the "white devils", and with the other hand tried to restrict movement, directed the punishers.
Empress Cixi pursued a "flexible" policy. On the one hand, she wanted to use the ihetuan uprising to strengthen her position in relations with foreigners and crush enemies inside the country. On the other hand, the imperial court was afraid of the rebels, their fraternization with the army and hatred of the Manchu dynasty. In May 1900, the Empress issued a decree supporting the uprising. In June, the Qing Empire declared war on foreign powers. True, the government did not mobilize the country and the people for the war, did nothing to defend the country from the interventionists. And as soon as the Qing dynasty felt the strength of foreign powers, immediately betrayed the rebels and turned government troops against the rebels. In September, Cixi ordered the ruthless suppression of the Yihetuan uprising.
Russians in Beijing
In the spring of 1900, a popular movement swept over a large part of China, including Manchuria. The Chinese had a special hatred for the Russians, who, in their opinion, had forever seized Port Arthur and part of Manchuria, where they were building the railway. Ihetuani destroyed iron and telegraph lines, attacked the buildings of religious missions, foreigners, and some government institutions. A series of attacks and murders of foreigners and Chinese Christians took place. Government troops could not suppress the uprising. The soldiers sympathized with the rebels. At the end of May, the "boxers" moved to Beijing. Empress Cixi in her message to the rebels supported their movement. On June 13-14, the rebels entered the capital and laid siege to the Ambassadorial Quarter, where all foreigners were hiding (about 900 civilians and over 500 soldiers). Government forces joined the rebels. The siege lasted 56 days. The Qing government has declared war on foreign states.
In response, England, Germany, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Russia, the United States and Japan organized an intervention. Already in May 1900, foreign powers began to transfer additional forces to their bases in China. In particular, Russia deployed reinforcements to Manchuria. The Russian troops were commanded by Admiral Alekseev. The combined fleet of the European powers under the command of British Vice Admiral Seymour arrived at the port of Dagu. The ships of Russia and Japan also headed to the shores of China. Russia began mobilization in the Amur Military District, the Ussuri Cossack army was alerted.
Having received news of the critical situation of the embassies in Beijing, Admiral Seymour marched at the head of a small detachment to the capital. However, he overestimated his strength and underestimated the enemy. His detachment, passing through Tianjin, was blocked by the enemy's 30-strong army. The landing party of Seymur was rescued by the 12th East Siberian regiment of Colonel Anisimov, who landed in the Pecheli Bay from Port Arthur. Seymour, with the support of Russian riflemen, was able to retreat to Tanjin, where he was again blocked by the Chinese. The detachment was released by the approaching 9th East Siberian Regiment, led by the commander of the 3rd Siberian Rifle Brigade, General Stoessel. Anisimov and Stoessel attacked the enemy from two sides and defeated the Chinese.
Russian cavalry attacking the enemy
Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Pacific Squadron, Admiral Yakov Giltebrandt, who replaced Seymur, decided to seize the enemy's strategic fortress - the Dagu forts, which covered the mouth of the White River - Beihe (Peyho), leading to the Heavenly Capital. Joint efforts of ground forces and fleet the operation was brilliantly performed. On June 4 (17), Dagu was taken. The main role in the assault was played by the Russians on land and at sea: the gunboats Gilyak, Koreets, Beaver and the company of Lieutenant Stankevich's 12th Siberian Regiment, which was the first to break into the fortress.
On June 24 (July 7), the allied forces (8 thousand soldiers, mostly Russians) were headed by Admiral Alekseev. In a battle on July 1 (14), he defeated the Chinese army in the Tanjin region, opening the way to the capital. Large reinforcements from Europe, the United States and Japan soon arrived. The allied army increased to 35 thousand soldiers with 106 guns. The core of the army was still the Russians - 7 thousand Siberian riflemen (2nd and 3rd brigades). Officially, the troops were headed by the German Field Marshal Alfred von Waldersee. But he arrived in the Qing Empire when the Allies had already taken the Heavenly Capital. In fact, the allied army during the campaign against Beijing was led by the Russian general Nikolai Linevich. July 23 (August 5) Linevich led 15 thousand. corps to Beijing. He again defeated the Chinese army and opened the road to the capital.
On July 31 (August 13), the allied forces were at the walls of Beijing. Already on August 1 (14), Siberian riflemen took the Chinese capital, which was defended by up to 80 thousand people. At 4 o'clock, General Linevich with his staff entered the Russian mission. During the storming of Beijing, Russian troops lost 28 people killed and 106 wounded, Japanese troops - 30 killed and 120 wounded. The British and Americans entered the city without a fight, but already in Beijing itself, several people were wounded. The French arrived after the assault. The allies, who entered Beijing on a Russian hump, plundered the Heavenly Capital. The Germans and the Japanese were especially distinguished. The Germans received from their Kaiser a parting word "not to give mercy, not to take prisoners." A German diplomat wrote from Beijing: "I am ashamed to write here that British, American and Japanese soldiers plundered the city in the most vile manner."
Russian General Linevich reported: “I myself saw the mountains up to the ceiling of the looted property from the British. That which they did not manage to send to India was sold for three days at an auction, arranged right in the mission. " Responding to the attacks of the Japanese, Linevich wrote: "With regard to the outrageous correspondence in the Japanese press, I notify that the Japanese in the Pecheliya detachment were the main culprits of all the most outrageous offenses in general and discipline in particular, the aforementioned offenses are even included in the system of warfare" ...
Russian commander Nikolai Petrovich Linevich (1838-1908)
Thus, the uprising was dealt a mortal blow. The Qing government immediately went over to the side of the foreigners. Punitive detachments crushed separate centers of the uprising in various provinces. Russian troops crushed the rebels in Manchuria. Here, the rebels, along with gangs of hunghuz, attacked Russian posts and villages on the East China Railway under construction and seized the entire road. Harbin, downtrodden by refugees, fell under siege. Chinese troops from the right bank of the Amur fired on the almost defenseless Blagoveshchensk.
Russia mobilized the Amur District. But part of the troops was sent to the Pecheli region and left on a march to Beijing. The rest had to be mobilized or even formed anew. Three brigades were transferred from the European part of Russia. In the Amur region, the 4th, 5th and 6th Siberian brigades were formed. In July, Russia was able to launch a counteroffensive. The detachments of Colonel Servianov and Colonel Rennenkampf from Sretensk moved to save Blagoveshchensk. At the same time, a detachment of General Sakharov left Khabarovsk. All troops moved on ships along the Amur.
On July 21 (August 3), Sakharov's detachment saved Harbin, having traveled over 660 miles in 18 days. At the same time, Servianov and Rennenkampf, joining up and crossing the Amur, defeated the enemy troops threatening Blagoveshchensk at Aigun. Rennenkampf's detachment raided deep into enemy territory, inflicted a number of defeats on the rebels and reached Tsitsikar. Colonel Orlov's Cossack detachment pacified Western Manchuria. The detachments of Chichagov and Aygustov defeated the enemy in the east, near Primorye. We took Hunchun and Ningut. In early September, the CER was in our hands. On September 23, Rennenkampf's detachment made a brilliant raid and took Jirin. On September 28, the troops of General Subotin defeated the Chinese near Liaoyang, on September 30 they occupied Mukden. All of Manchuria was pacified.
In 1901, the last centers of the uprising were suppressed. Foreign powers imposed a new unequal treaty on China - the Final Protocol of September 7, 1901. Beijing apologized to Germany and Japan for the murders of their diplomats, pledged to punish the leaders of the uprising and ban all societies against foreigners from paying indemnities. The military forces of the Celestial Empire were limited, the Dagu forts were destroyed, foreigners gained control over a number of strong points from the coast to Beijing, and sent troops to guard the embassies. That is, China's dependence on foreigners has increased.
Russia, on the other hand, did not receive special political benefits from the victories of 1900 (except for 30% of reparations). We returned the Chinese Eastern Railway in a completely destroyed state, it had to be restored. Petersburg did not strengthen its position in China, showed great moderation. Militarily, the quality of the Chinese troops and insurgents was very low. The high fighting spirit of a number of boxing squads could not stop the “white devils” superior in combat training, organization and armament. In fact, the decisive Peking operation in this campaign was carried out by Russian commanders and troops. At the head of the allied army were battalions of Siberian riflemen and Russian naval companies. They rescued Seymour, stormed Dagu, defeated the Chinese army in Tangjin, opening the way to the Heavenly Capital, and took Beijing. The participation of the rest of the foreign troops was mostly demonstrative, with the exception of the Japanese, who fought bravely.
Allied Forces in Beijing