China Marines are those United States Marines from the 4th Marine Regiment who were stationed in Shanghai, China during 1927 - 1941. The Fourth Marines sailed to Shanghai from their home base in San Diego, California in February 1927 to protect American citizens and their property in the Shanghai International Settlement during the Chinese Revolution and the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The Fourth Marines were a relatively small unit (consisting at various times of between 1,200 to 1,600 men). Due to the cheap labor being readily available, China Marines lived relatively comfortable lifestyles, with squads being able to hire a Chinese man to do all of their cleaning and errands. When added to the inexpensive goods available on the local economy, assignments to the China Marines were highly coveted.
With the expansion of the Marine Corps during World War II and the capture of the 4th Marines at Corregidor, China Marines were rare and highly regarded.