Kowtowing before the Kaiser? Sino-German Relations in the Aftermath of the Boxer Uprising

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    While most discussions of Germany’s response to the Boxer Rebellion have focused on the Kaiser’s infamous ‘Hun Speech’, few have scrutinised the attitude of the Kaiser and the institutions of the German state towards the Chinese after the war. This article demonstrates that Sino-German relations after the Boxer War were mishandled by Berlin, particularly the Kaiser. Despite having insisted on a public apology from the Chinese emperor for the Boxers’ anti-European violence, the subsequent Chinese royal mission to Berlin saw the Germans lectured by the visiting Chinese on appropriate standards of civilised conduct before being offered a non-apology. Despite these very public snubs, the Chinese delegation were feted all over Germany and awarded imperial honours before returning home, having comprehensively won the peace. By looking more closely at the dynamics of this so-called ‘Atonement Mission’, this paper highlights how the Chinese Empire transformed a publicly staged act of abasement into an assertion of Chinese dignity and defiance that embarrassed the Kaiser in the eyes of Europe.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)513-538
    Number of pages26
    Issue number3
    Early online date2018
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


    • Boxer Rebellion
    • Chinese history
    • German history
    • International diplomacy
    • Monarchy


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