The China Marines were originally defined as those who served as part of the 4th Marine Regiment assigned guard duty at the International Settlement in Shanghai from 1927 to 1941. Another group of Marines from the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions who were members of the U.S. occupying army in north China would also become known as China Marines. These Marines were stationed in China from 1945 to 1948.
In November of 1941, American forces were withdrawn from Shanghai. Following the attacks at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, there remained one Marine detachment in China, defending the US embassy in Peking (now Beijing). This embassy detachment surrendered to the Japanese and remained prisoners of war until 1945. Withdrawn Marines were reassigned to the Philippines. Many were killed or captured by Japanese forces.