The Chinese lunar calendar consists of 60 distinctly-named years repeating in a cycle. This year, 2021, is called Xinchou, and 1901 was also a Xinchou year. On March 23, 2021, a user going by the name "The Red Army's Long March over Furong" published on the Chinese question-and-answer website Zhihu an article that contrasted China's "humiliation" in the 1901 Xinchou Treaty (Boxer Protocol) with the "confidence" and "strength" shown by China in its talks with the U.S. in Alaska in March 2021.
The Xinchou Treaty, signed September 7, 1901 between senior Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) officials and the Eight-Nation Alliance of the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Austria-Hungary, followed the August 1900 capture of Beijing by foreign troops and ended the Boxer Rebellion. The treaty, under which the Qing government had to pay massive reparations, is considered a "landmark event" in China's modern history that marked China's complete entry "into the abyss of suffering in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial territory." The article stated that it "was an additional disaster for the Chinese people. It seriously damaged China's sovereignty, and further strengthened the imperialists' comprehensive plunder of China."
Despite the humiliation of the treaty, stated the article, it was significant for "the awakening of the Chinese people." It stated: "The imperialist invaders drove the Chinese nation to the edge of a cliff, their robbery quickly awakening the Chinese people to begin an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle which then surged in China. Various organizations and groups, and all patriots, started an unyielding struggle to save the country."
The article went on to assert that it was with the very birth of the Communist Party of China that the Chinese people realized that the right "direction" for the country was to embark on "an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle." From that moment on, it said, Chinese history began "a new era" – "a new China, where *the* people were the masters, was established."
Now, 120 years after the signing of the Xinchou Treaty, under the guidance of the Communist Party of China, "the wheels of history are rolling forward" and "the Chinese people have stepped into a brand-new era with great pride… China has risen," the article stated, adding that China has grown economically and technologically, and these days the U.S. "fears" not only China's industry, but China's "human talent advantage."
The article goes on to state that the March 2021 Alaska U.S.-China talks further gave Beijing the possibility to prove, coincidentally in the same Xinchou year, that China has "risen" and that the humiliation has ended. During the talks, PC Political Bureau Central Committee member and Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs director Yang Jiechi, who led the Chinese delegation, said that "the U.S. is not qualified to talk down to China," "Chinese people don't buy it," and "Stop interfering in China's internal affairs." His statements went viral in mainland China, and merchandise with his "patriotic golden sentences" – tee shirts, mobile phone cases, tote bags, umbrellas, and more – sold out. The article concluded: "In the same Xinchou year, the same two sides, 120 years apart, recognized that the status quo is not the same anymore. We have learned the lesson of being beaten while falling behind. The trend of swift advancement and growth is now unstoppable."
Below is the article that was published on Zhihu:
Scenes of the signing of the 1901 Xinchou Treaty (Boxer Protocol) and the 2021 U.S.-China Alaska talks. (Source: Weibo)
'This Second Anniversary Of The Year Of Humiliation Has Seen The Motherland Grow Strong In Confidence'
"It has been 120 years since the 1901 Xinchou year. This second anniversary of the year of humiliation has seen the motherland grow strong in confidence.
"The Xinchou year comes around only once every 60 years. For every Chinese, the 1901 Xinchou year is depressing and unforgettable. Anyone with even a little bit of historical knowledge is immediately reminded of the Xinchou Treaty.
"One hundred and twenty years ago, in another Xinchou year, at the southeast corner of Tiananmen Square still called Dongjiaomin Lane (东交民巷) where I stand today, there was a group of diplomatic consulates and embassies. On September 7, 1901, a treaty that humiliated the country was signed at the Spanish Embassy here.
"There are tales of folk history surrounding the treaty. According to folklore, Li Hongzhang signed the treaty on his last day of service to the Qing Dynasty. Prime Minister Yi Kuang, sitting next to Li Hongzhang with shaking hands, said, 'Let me sign it.'
"Li Hongzhang waved his hand slightly and said: 'The most difficult thing in the world is to write one's own name. You have a long future ahead. There is no need for you to sacrifice yourself as well. Let me sign this traitorous treaty!' Li Hongzhang picked up the writing brush and signed it. He immediately burst into tears, knowing that he would be blamed for this traitorous treaty for thousands of years. He started to vomit blood, and died two months later.
"There is no way to verify these detailed descriptions, but it is certain that a treaty signing ceremony was supervised by world powers, and the treaty was negotiated and signed by Li Hongzhang. It would have been impossible to easily change the signatories at will, so this beautiful tale was nothing but a tragic elegy sung by later literati for a failed dynasty, especially for the traitor Li Hongzhang.
'The Signing Of The Treaty… Damaged China's Sovereignty, And Further Strengthened The Imperialists' Comprehensive Plunder Of China'
"The year preceding Xinchou is called the Gengzi Year, 1900. It was the Year of the Rat in the Chinese zodiac. In that year, the Eight-Power Allied Forces captured Beijing and Tianjin. The Qing Dynasty was unquestionably defeated. In 1901, the Year of Xinchou, the Qing government was forced to sign the Xinchou Treaty with the Eight-Power Allied Forces. Faced with this historic humiliating treaty, ugly in content and nature, the Qing regime was utterly servile and humble. Of course, in order to then pay off penalizing debt, the Qing government treated the people cruelly.
"According to this unequal, humiliating treaty, the Qing government would compensate 11 countries 450 million taels of silver. The total principal and interest of 980 million taels (39.8 tons) were supposed to be paid off in 39 years. This required demolishing all forts from Beijing to Dagu [a district in Tianjin] and allowing countries to station troops along the railway from Shanhaiguan [the easternmost pass of the Great Wall of China] to Beijing. It designated Beijing's Dongjiaomin Lane as the location for all foreign embassies. No Chinese were allowed to live within the area, which would be guarded by troops from various countries. More than 170 Qing officials who participated in the anti-imperialist struggle in the Boxer Movement were also punished. In addition, there were a series of special terms imposed on China in the treaty.
"The signing of the treaty was a landmark event in China's modern history. It marked China's complete entry into the abyss of suffering in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial territory. It was an additional disaster for the Chinese people. It seriously damaged China's sovereignty, and further strengthened the imperialists' comprehensive plunder of China. Among them, the Japanese benefited the most by using these indemnities to universalize elementary and secondary education in every backward village in their country. Thus, Japan used the blood and sweat of the Chinese people to greatly accelerate the development of human resources needed for modernization.
'New China… Was Not Afraid Of Intimidation Or Threats From Any Country'
"In the nearly half a century from 1901 to 1949, Dongjiaomin Lane did not allow the Chinese to pass through freely. The buildings that retained a large number of historical landmarks, the old streets and old lanes, were guarded by the army of Western powers. In Beijing, the heart of China, we were ravaged by the iron fist every day for nearly 50 years.
"When Peking was peacefully liberated in 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong specifically ordered that troops entering the city must pass through the foreign garrison barracks in the embassy area of Dongjiaomin Lane. Chairman Mao's special order was a sensation for Beijingers. It was a big event. Since the signing of the Xinchou Treaty in 1901, the Chinese army had not appeared in Dongjiaomin Lane. The Chinese People's Liberation Army's Fourth Field Army marched through Dongjiaomin Lane with great vigor. The excitement of Chinese people's self-confidence and heroism were unimaginable, for this indicated the end of foreign countries' continued right to garrison for half a century. The political significance of this special order was far greater than its practical significance.
"A year later, the Beijing Military Management Committee announced the expropriation of all barracks inhabited by foreign troops. A notice was posted on the wall of the foreign embassy area. Western embassies expressed their opposition together. The United States was particularly arrogant. They used a strongly worded letter to express that they would never withdraw from the embassy. Chairman Mao Zedong ordered that all foreigners must withdraw from Dongjiaomin Lane at the designated time. Chairman Mao said that matters on China's own territory must not be interfered with by others. In accordance with the order, the Beijing Military Control Commission took decisive measures and sent people to the consulates and embassies to inform them that they must withdraw within a time limit.
"New China does not recognize any national privileges and was not afraid of intimidation or threats from any country. Under the mandates of the Beijing Military Management Committee, the foreign military camp in Dongjiaomin Lane was reclaimed in one fell swoop. The history of imperialism's right to station troops in China came to an end. Today, we can only imagine what kind of a diplomatic battle for the dignity of the country was being performed at Dongjiaomin Lane, where today we walk freely on the east side of Tiananmen Square.
'The Signing Of The Xinchou Treaty Had Considerable Significance For The Development Of Chinese History And The Awakening Of The Chinese People'
"Objectively speaking, the signing of the Xinchou Treaty had considerable significance for the development of Chinese history and the awakening of the Chinese people. The imperialist invaders drove the Chinese nation to the edge of a cliff, their robbery quickly awakening the Chinese people to begin an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle which then surged in China. Various organizations and groups, and all patriots, started an unyielding struggle to save the country.
"However, it was not until 20 years later, after the birth of the Communist Party of China in a Shikumen (石库门) building in Shanghai, that the Chinese people's anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle had the correct platform and direction. It was not until the party had the great leader Mao Zedong that the Chinese revolution truly embarked on a brand-new great journey. From the founding of the Chinese Communist Party to the victory of the War of Liberation, in just 28 years, the new People's Republic of China was established. Chinese history began a new era. A new China, where people were the masters, was established. The event became the most sensational and important news in the world in the late 1940s.
'China Has Risen'
"The wheels of history are rolling forward. One hundred and twenty years later, we are in a new Xinchou year. The Chinese people have stepped into a brand-new era with great pride. Socialist China has risen strongly in the world. As a New Year's greeting on WeChat says: 'This is a great year of turning (bull) the world around.' [The Chinese character for "bull" and "turning around" are homophones.]
"Some people keep reminding us to be humble. We are warned to avoid using phrases like 'my country is awesome,' phrases that foreigners are unhappy with. But we still have to say them firmly and proudly, regardless of whether foreigners are happy or not. No matter what others think of us, the age of being proud as a Chinese with black hair and yellow skin has arrived.
"If we are the only one to say this about ourselves, it does not count for much. Yet a few days ago, the highly influential American think tank the RAND Corporation warned the U.S. government seriously. They told the Biden administration officials that it is no longer a question of whether China will rise or is it rising on the Pacific Ocean. China has risen. The United States should adjust or reduce its East Asian troops and establish a mechanism for mutual trust with China. The U.S. must lower its commitment to Taiwan, and restart trade and investment in China.
"These words are totally different from Trump's a few days ago. What has happened? Is this another trick Americans are playing? We must always be vigilant against Americans. We have suffered a lot at the hands of American conspiracies over the years. We should not underestimate the judgment of the imperialist think tank on the issues. No, the source of all these judgments depends on our development and rapid growth in strength.
'China Is The Only Major Country And Economy That Maintains Positive Growth'
"It was a year of sorrow. The world was tossed around by Covid-19. The Chinese Communist Party used the great advantages of the socialist system and its unparalleled organizational capabilities. The Chinese Communist Party led the Chinese people to create a miracle of united efforts to fight Covid-19.
"In a big country with a population of 1.4 billion, everyone followed the orders and restrictions obediently with no questions. The united efforts and miraculous results made the world marvel. The heads of many large countries are amazed. They say that such a country will be invincible.
"The world's major economies are in a situation of negative growth or stagnation. China is the only major country and economy that maintains positive growth. The heads of one country after another in the world are competing to choose the Chinese vaccine for Covid-19. This is trust. This is an influence of strength and spirit. This is also a contest of soft power. As a nation, what can make us prouder as Chinese people than these things?
"Regarding our air forces, the mass-produced Yun-20, Jan-20, Hong-20, etc., will soar in the blue sky and guard the airspace of the motherland. As General Peng Dehuai said in his speech during the Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea [the Korean War) in 1953: the era when China allowed foreigners to set up a few cannons on the coast to determine China's fate is truly gone.
"Today, on the morning of another 2021 Xinchou year, our Sky Eye Telescope is looking at the stars thousands of miles away in space. Our spacecraft flying to Mars is launching a variety of unprecedented scientific explorations that will surprise the world.
"The U.S. Sky Eye Telescope collapsed suddenly a few days ago. Even the U.S. and Britain said that if they and other countries want to explore the universe, they can only rely on China's Sky Eye Telescope now.
"Only two countries in the world had a Sky Eye Telescope the United States and China.
"The U.S. Sky Eye did not even reach its expected lifespan, thus beginning the era of the U.S. without a Sky Eye Telescope. Now there is only the Chinese Sky Eye Telescope in the world. Only we can use the Sky Eye Telescope to explore the universe. If any country wants to borrow it, then it must be at the Chinese people's mercy.
"In the vast outer space, China's unique quantum satellite is flying proudly. Our spacecraft will be the world's only capsule laboratory after 2024. There are many more things worth mentioning, but there is no need to list them one by one. Otherwise, someone will remind us of the warning about saying 'my country is awesome!'
'Americans Are More Worried About Chinese Education Than The Scale Of China's Industry'
"One thing we must emphasize. What people of insight in the U.S. really fear, more than new equipment, is our human talent advantage in our big, booming country.
"An American scientist once told Chinese scientists, 'It will take a few years for your equipment to catch up with the U.S. Your talent is what really scares us. Whenever we see the young men who are on average 30 years old in the command room of your launch site, we feel it's incredible. What you have gained the most in recent years is the rapid development of talent.'
"Americans are more worried about Chinese education than the scale of China's industry. A survey was conducted by the Americans about the number of graduates in the world of science and engineering in 2016. According to the survey, there were 4.7 million Chinese and more than 500,000 American graduates.
"Actually, we have more than 6 million undergraduates studying science and engineering each year. Americans believe the number of undergraduates studying science and engineering in China is more than ten times that of the U.S. American students are busy studying finance and medicine because they can make more money in those fields.
"Chinese students are concentrating on studying manufacturing, bridges, ships, coal, steel, construction and so on. Americans say that China has the world's largest number of science and engineering graduates. Since 2001, more than 1,800 new universities were opened in China. This is where Americans really feel threatened.
'From A Position Of Real Strength And Power, You Are Not Qualified To Speak With China'
"March 19, 2021 (March 18, Alaska time, U.S.) is a special day worthy of commemoration for the history of world politics. Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the Office of the Central Committee for Foreign Affairs, told American officials: 'From a position of real strength and power, you are not qualified to speak with China.'
"Prior to this, China has said many times that they would not bow to the U.S., but not many countries believed it. This time, the Chinese told the U.S. officials so to their face. The results were completely different.
"The China-U.S. Alaska talks are of extraordinary significance to both China and the U.S. Previously, the China-U.S. consultations and negotiations were held in China. Some people believe that the U.S. wants to play to its 'home field advantage.' I believe that compared with China, the U.S. needs to quickly restore normal relations between China and the United States. Therefore, the U.S. invited the Chinese side to negotiate in Alaska.
"Yang Jiechi clarified the relevant position of China in his opening remarks: We hope that this dialogue will be sincere and frank. Both China and the U.S. are world superpowers. We are responsible for regional and world peace, stability, and development.
"Yang Jiechi pointed out that China advocates the universal values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom. China maintains the international system with the UN as the core and the international order based on international law. The international system should not be based on rules formulated by a small number of countries. The majority of countries in the world do not recognize the United States' value as international value. What the United States says is not international public opinion. The rules formulated by a few countries are not international rules. The United States has an American-style democracy; China has a Chinese-style democracy.
"China adheres to the path of peaceful development. China makes unremitting efforts for international and regional peace and development. China upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China is not like the U.S. that uses force at every turn causing world turmoil and unrest. There are many problems in human rights and other aspects in the U.S. What the United States should do is to change its image and manage its own affairs at home. The U.S. is failing to solve its own problems. It is transferring contradictions to the world, diverting attention, and making irresponsible remarks about China's human rights and democracy. The leadership of the Communist Party of China and China's political system are sincerely supported by the Chinese people. Any attempt to change China's social system is futile.
"Yang Jiechi emphasized that China and the U.S. share many common interests in fighting the epidemic, resuming work and production, and tackling climate change. He hoped that the United States will change its zero-sum game mindset and abandon wrong practices such as 'long-arm jurisdiction.' The U.S. should not abuse the concept of national security to interfere with normal trade between the two countries. Both China and the U.S. should develop good relations with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. They should have mutual friends. This is the correct way of life in the 21st century. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang are all inalienable parts of Chinese territory. China firmly opposes U.S. interference in China's internal affairs and will continue to make firm retaliatory responses. The United States does not have the right to speak condescendingly to China.
"The Chinese people will not tolerate it. Dealings with China must be conducted on a basis of mutual respect. History will prove that the U.S. itself will suffer in the end if the U.S. doesn't change its ways.
"After the U.S. side gave the opening remarks at the talk, the minister of foreign affairs, Wang Yi, said that China is here at the invitation of the U.S. Anchorage is located in the middle of the route between China and the United States. It is a 'gas station' for Sino-U.S. exchanges and a 'junction' where China and the United States meet each other. In the past few years, due to the unreasonable suppression of China's legitimate rights and interests, Sino-U.S. relations have encountered unprecedented serious difficulties. This situation has harmed the interests of the people of the two countries and the stability and development of the world. It should not continue. China will never accept unwarranted accusations from the United States in the past, present, and future. At the same time, we ask the United States to completely abandon its hegemonic act of interfering in China's internal affairs. This old problem in the United States must be changed!
"Wang Yi wanted to point out the important issue that on March 17, the U.S. escalated its so-called sanctions against China on the Hong Kong issue. Such gross interference in China's internal affairs has aroused strong indignation among the Chinese people. We firmly oppose it. This is not normal hospitality for the U.S. to introduce the measure on the eve of the China-U.S. high-level strategic dialogue. If the U.S. wants to use this to enhance its so-called advantage over China, it is completely miscalculating. It just exposes its inner weakness and powerlessness. This approach will not affect China's legitimate position in the slightest. It will not shake the firm will of the Chinese people to safeguard sovereignty and dignity.
"Wang Yi pointed out that in the opening remarks, the U.S. claimed that some countries believed that China coerced them. The U.S. needs to realize that this statement is purely their subjective assumption. If the U.S. listens to and favors some countries just because they are allies of the U.S., and even shields them from the consequences of their wrong words and deeds, then it will be difficult for international relations to develop normally. In the end, the people of the world will make their own judgments. History will come to a fair conclusion.
'The International Community Is Paying Great Attention To [Sino-U.S.] Dialogue'
"Wang Yi emphasized that the call between President Xi Jinping and President Biden on Chinese New Year's Eve is very important. The consensus reached between the two sides pointed out the direction for the return of Sino-U.S. relations to the right track.
"The international community is paying great attention to our dialogue today. Can the two sides truly show sincerity and goodwill? Can we send a positive signal to the world? If the United States is willing, we can work together, exchange views on the basis of mutual respect, jointly assume this responsibility, and do the work well.
'The Trend Of Swift Advancement And Growth Is Now Unstoppable'
"The China-U.S. high-level strategic talk took place in Anchorage. A picture of 'The Comparison of Two Xinchou Years' went viral on the internet. In the 1901 Xinchou year, the great powers including the United States forced China to sign the Xinchou Treaty. It humiliated the country. In the 2021 Xinchou year, China warned the United States: 'The United States is not qualified to speak condescendingly with China. The Chinese won't take it.'
"September 7th, 1901 was a day full of humiliation as the Qing government signed the Xinchou Treaty, but today is not like the past. The declaration 'The United States is not qualified to say to China that the U.S. speaks from a position of strength' became a popular saying. It shows Chinese people have the confidence and the strength of the motherland. In the same Xinchou year, the same two sides, 120 years apart, recognized that the status quo is not the same anymore. We have learned the lesson of being beaten while falling behind. The trend of swift advancement and growth is now unstoppable."
 See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9245, At U.S.-China Meeting, Top Chinese Diplomat Yang States: The U.S. Launches Wars, Whereas China Promotes Peace; The U.S. Should Stop Advancing Its Own Democracy In The Rest Of The World And Focus On Its Own Human Rights Record, March 22, 2021; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9249, Chinese Foreign Ministry On U.S.-China Meeting: Our Development Cannot Be Achieved Without CCP Leadership; The U.S. Should Have 'A Correct View Of China's Influence On The World,' March 23, 2021; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9272, Merchandise Featuring Top Chinese Diplomat's 'Patriotic Golden Sentences' At Alaska Sino-U.S. Talks Takes Off In China: 'The U.S. Is Not Qualified To Talk Down To China,' 'Stop Interfering In China's Internal Affairs,' April 2, 2021.
[3i] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 9272, Merchandise Featuring Top Chinese Diplomat's 'Patriotic Golden Sentences' At Alaska Sino-U.S. Talks Takes Off In China: 'The U.S. Is Not Qualified To Talk Down To China,' 'Stop Interfering In China's Internal Affairs,' April 2, 2021.
 Zhihu.com/column/p/359218436, March 23, 2021.