Hayes Open Door Policy
Following its defeat by Japan in 1895, China found itself too weakened to resist the demands of a number of powerful countries for political and economic concessions (giving somebody the right to something). Eventually the United States and major European countries became alarmed.
- In 1899 John Hay, United States secretary of state under President William McKinley, wrote to the governments of Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Russia, France, and Italy (see McKinley, William).
- He proposed that they give assurances that every nation, large or small, would be allowed equal commercial opportunity in the markets of China.
- To a large extent, but with some reservations, the proposal was accepted. Hay officially announced the agreement in March 1900. It came to be known as the open-door policy. This policy was later applied to some other countries, and it had an influence on a number of treaties.
- In the summer of 1900 members of a secret Chinese society roamed northeastern China in bands, killing Europeans and Americans and destroying buildings owned by foreigners. They called themselves Yihequan, meaning “Righteous and Harmonious Fists.”
- They practiced boxing skills and calisthenic rituals that they believed made them impervious to bullets. To Westerners they became known as the Boxers, and their uprising was called the Boxer Rebellion.
- Most Boxers were impoverished peasants from northern China who resented the growing influence of Westerners in their land. They wanted to expel all foreigners from China. Initially, the Boxers opposed China's ruling Qing Dynasty as well as such outsiders as Christian missionaries and European businessmen.
- The Qing leaders later began to secretly support the Boxers, having convinced them to stop opposing Qing rule. Although the Boxers failed to drive foreigners out of China, they set the stage for the successful Chinese revolutionary movement of the early 20th century.
- Foreigners had entered China during an era of imperialism. In the late 1800s the United Kingdom and other European countries, the United States, Russia, and Japan scrambled for spheres of influence in China, aggressively seeking to reap the riches of trade and commerce there.
- China was forced to grant humiliating concessions to the foreign powers, which in some cases seized Chinese territories. At the same time, Christian missionaries tried to convert the Chinese to Christianity. The Chinese, who saw the introduction of Western practices as a threat to their traditional ways, resented and feared these outsiders.
- By late 1899, Boxers were openly attacking Western missionaries and Chinese converts to Christianity. By May 1900, they were wandering the countryside around Beijing. In June an expeditionary force of Russian, British, German, French, American, and Japanese troops was organized to proceed to Beijing, put down the rebellion, and protect Western nationals. Cixi, the ruling Qing empress dowager, ordered her troops to block the advance of this expedition.
- The foreigners were turned back. Meanwhile, Boxers were rampaging in Beijing, burning down churches and the houses of Westerners, and killing Chinese Christians. Foreign troops then seized Chinese coastal forts to insure access to Beijing. Enraged, Cixi ordered the death of all foreigners in China. The German minister to China was assassinated, and Boxer rebels began an eight-week attack on the walled foreign compound in Beijing.
- The allied foreign governments sent some 19,000 soldiers to Beijing, capturing the city on Aug. 14, 1900. The invaders looted the city and routed the Boxers, while the empress dowager and her court fled to the north. It took a year for the parties to the conflict to agree on a settlement. It was signed in September 1901 and was dictated by the Western powers and Japan in such a way as to humiliate China. Heavy fines were levied against the Chinese government, and existing commercial treaties were amended in favor of the Western powers. Chinese coastal defenses were dismantled.
THE ROOSEVELT COROLLARY
- Financial factors drew the United States further into Latin American affairs. In the late 19th century, many Latin American nations had borrowed huge sums from European banks to build railroads and develop industries. Roosevelt feared that if these nations defaulted on their loans, Europeans might intervene.
- He was determined to make the United States the predominant power in the Caribbean and Central America. Roosevelt reminded European powers of the Monroe Doctrine, which had been issued in 1823 by President James Monroe.
- The Monroe Doctrine demanded that European countries stay out of the affairs of Latin American nations. Roosevelt based his Latin America policy on a West African proverb that said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
- In his December 1904 message to Congress, Roosevelt added the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. He warned that disorder in Latin America might “force the United States . . . to the exercise of an international police power.” In effect, the corollary said that the United States would now use force to protect its economic interests in Latin America.
- By the time Roosevelt became president, many Americans, including Roosevelt, felt that the United States needed a canal cutting across Central America. Such a canal would greatly reduce travel time for commercial and military ships by providing a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
- As early as 1850, the United States and Britain had agreed to share the rights to such a canal. In the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty of 1901, however, Britain gave the United States exclusive rights to build and control a canal through Central America.
- Before beginning work on the Panama Canal, the United States had to get permission from Colombia, which then ruled Panama. When these negotiations broke down, Bunau-Varilla helped organize a Panamanian rebellion against Colombia. On November 3, 1903, nearly a dozen U.S. warships were present as Panama declared its independence.
- Fifteen days later, Panama and the United States signed a treaty in which the United States agreed to pay Panama $10 million plus an annual rent of $250,000 for an area of land across Panama, called the Canal Zone. The payments were to begin in 1913.