China Station Posts

Figure 1.--Here two American sailors identified only as Ellis and Sturgeon pose in 1932 with two friendly shoeshine boys at Chefoo (modern Yantai), a port in northern China on the Yellow Sea and close to the areas the Japanese were targeting in China. A year earlier Japan had seized Manchutia just to the north. Chefoo was the summer base for the U.S. Far East Fleet. Notice the dental office with an English sign.

The Europeans used gunoat diplomacy to open access to China for their merchants and missionaries. [Cohen] The European powers to protect their commercial interests and citizens in China maintained naval forces in various places in the Far East, including China. This became known as China Station and began in the mid-19th century. It was not a specifically American term, but originated with the European navies involved in China. Here the British Royal Navy coined the term with the their Far East and China Station. It was one of the results of the First Opium War. Of particular concern to the British and other Europeans was Shanghai, China's principal port and comnercial center. Shanghai was located at the mouth of the Yangtze River which led into the inteior and was navigable. This was the easiest way for the Europeans to project power into China's interior. And by controling Shnhai had a major lever on the Chinese economy. The European powers, especially Britain, had the International Settlement there. During the inter-War era (1920s-30s), the U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet used Chefoo (now Yantai) as a summer station. Chefoo was located to the north of Shanghai on the Yellow Sea, about equal distance between Bejing and Korea. Chefoo had popular shore leave attractions: bars, restaurants, women, and a beach that the sailors on the American China Station found enjoyable. The U.S. Navy while at Chefoo, rented Kentucky Island to provude the Fleet Marine Force an opportunity to maintain their field skill proficiency.


Cohen, Paul A. China and Christianity: The Missionary Movement and the Growth of Chinese Antiforeignism, 1860-1870 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963).


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Created: 7:10 PM 9/26/2015
Last updated: 7:10 PM 9/26/2015