On June 21st 1900 China formally declared war on Britain, France, the United States, Germany and Japan; this was as an edict issued from the Empress Dowager Cixi. This declaration was a part of the Boxer Rebellion that lasted from 1899-1901. The Boxer Rebellion was a violent anti-foreign and anti-Christian uprising which took place in China towards the end of the Qing dynasty between 1899 and 1901. It was initiated by the Militia United in Righteousness, known in English as the “Boxers”, and was motivated by proto-nationalist sentiments and opposition to imperialist expansion and associated Christian missionary activity. An Eight-Nation Alliance invaded China to defeat the Boxers and took retribution.
Long term consequences were the European great powers finally ceased their ambitions of colonizing China having learned from the Boxer rebellions that the best way to deal with China was through the ruling dynasty, rather than directly with the Chinese people (a sentiment embodied in the adage: “The people are afraid of officials, the officials are afraid of foreigners, and the foreigners are afraid of the people”, and even briefly assisted the Qing in their war against the Japanese to prevent a Japanese domination in the region.
This period also marks the end of the European great powers interference in Chinese affairs, with the Japanese replacing the Europeans as the dominant power for their lopsided involvement in the war against the Boxers as well as their victory in the First Sino-Japanese War. With the toppling of the Qing that followed and the rise of the Nationalist Kuomintang, European sway within China was reduced to symbolic status.