Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship Program

The Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship Program was a scholarship program funded by Boxer Rebellion indemnity money paid to the United States that provided for Chinese students to study in the U.S. It has been called "the most important scheme for educating Chinese students in America and arguably the most consequential and successful in the entire foreign-study movement of twentieth century China." Although there had previously been some higher education opportunities for Chinese in the U.S. associated with Yung Wing's Chinese Educational Mission, this short-lived effort was disbanded in 1881 and there was little subsequent activity.

Following the Boxer Rebellion, the defeated Qing Empire was fined war reparations of 450,000,000 taels of fine silver (around £67.5 million or US$333 million at the time) with an interest of 4% per year, for 39 years, and finally needed to pay 982,238,150 taels (about 34683 tons of silver), for the loss caused to the Eight-Nation Alliance, of which the U.S. share was 7.32%, the Russian 28.97%, the German 20.02%, the French 15.75%,the British 11.25%, the Japanese 7.73%, the Italian 7.32%, the Belgian 1.89%, the Austro-Hungarian 0.89%, the Dutch 0.17%, and the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Swedish and the Norwegian 0.025% each.

When Liang Cheng, the Qing representative to the U.S., learned that the terms of the Boxer Protocol awarded the U.S. more than it had originally demanded, he initiated a campaign to pressure the U.S. into returning the difference to China. After several years, the Theodore Roosevelt administration decided in June 1907 to use the difference to create a scholarship program for Chinese students to study in the U.S. American missionary Arthur Henderson Smith also helped persuade Roosevelt to use the indemnity payment for education.


The program, set up in 1909, funded the selection, preparatory training, transportation to the U.S., and study for the scholarship beneficiaries. Part of the first remission of money included establishment in 1911 of a preparatory school in Peking (Beijing) for the Chinese graduates pursuing further studies at American universities, named Tsinghua College in 1911 and also called the "American Indemnity College" . This school was later expanded to offered four-year undergraduate and post-graduate programs and became Tsinghua University.

A second remission in 1924 provided for the establishment of the China Foundation which would in turn found the China Institute in New York City in 1926.

Approximately 1,300 students were able to study through the program from 1909 to 1929. In 1929, after Tsinghua had become a true university itself, the Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship Program was opened to all candidates. A total of five groups of scholars were educated in the U.S. before the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.


A number of prominent Chinese and Chinese Americans were beneficiaries of the Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship Program, including philosopher Hu Shih, Nobel Physics prizewinner Chen Ning Yang, mathematician Kai Lai Chung, linguist Yuen Ren Chao, and rocket scientist Tsien Hsue-shen. The scholarships served as a model for the Fulbright Program's grants for international educational exchange.

The United Kingdom, France, and Japan also later set up similar programs for Chinese students.

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