1901: Human meatballs sold in China

At the turn of the 20th century, parts of rural China were ravaged by drought, leading to crop failures and famine. American journalist and Christian missionary Francis Nichols toured Xian province, where more than two million people had perished, and saw evidence of cannibalism in the sale of human meatballs:

“By and by, human flesh began to be sold in the suburbs of Xian. At first the traffic was carried on clandestinely, but after a time a horrible kind of meat ball, made from the bodies of human beings who had died of hunger, became a staple article of food, that was sold for about four American cents a pound.”

Many Chinese believed that foreign imperialism and the spread of Christianity were responsible for crop failures and famine. This anti-foreign sentiment fuelled the Boxer movement of the same period.

Source: Francis Nichols, New York Christian Herald, 1901. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.