The Battle for China: The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and the Cold War in Asia, 1944-1949
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The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ long history in China before World War II was a prelude to a little known struggle. In the aftermath of Japan’s surrender in August 1945, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps embarked on a complex series of operations to rescue Allied prisoners of war, stabilize North China, and repatriate millions of Japanese soldiers and civilians. The more than 50,000 Marines and over a hundred vessels of the U.S. Seventh Fleet committed to China repatriated over three million Japanese and transported 200,000 Chinese Nationalist soldiers to North China. While doing so, they became enmeshed in the complex military and political landscape that was the Chinese Civil War. Over the next four years, U.S. Navy leaders, intent on reestablishing the longstanding presence and strategic role of the Navy in China, opposed efforts by the U.S. Army and State Department to withdraw all U.S. forces from the vast country. From 1944 to 1949, a core group of civilian and naval leaders worked steadily to shore up Nationalist China in the face of a growing and intractable Chinese Communist Party. Unwavering in their view that China was a strategic priority and that Asia stood at the forefront of the nascent Cold War, these leaders repeatedly clashed with General George C. Marshall and President Harry Truman. Exacerbated by an atmosphere of distrust and intra-service rivalry, this conflict over China revealed stark divisions between the U.S. Navy and its sister services, and illuminated inherent differences as the United States struggled to come to terms with both the new Cold War and the reality of nuclear warfare.
Chavanne, Jonathan Blackshear (2016). The Battle for China: The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and the Cold War in Asia, 1944-1949. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from