China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper uses Chinese and English-language archival sources from China, Taiwan, and the United States to examine the Chinese government's hostel program for US forces in China during World War II. With little to offer the Americans militarily, the Nationalist government sought to demonstrate its commitment to the alliance by establishing a network of Western-style hostels to house and feed American troops at its own expense. WASC officials, echoing views colonial Filipino elites expressed during the 1920s and 1930s, believed that by footing the bill and replicating American standards of cleanliness, efficiency and comfort, they could demonstrate that Chinese deserved to be treated as equals. Elsewhere around the globe, the US military provided for its own forces, but in China American personnel lived and ate at Chinese-government run hostels throughout the war. Yet rather than strengthening the Sino-American alliance, China's hostel program ended up reinforcing American assumptions about Chinese inferiority and untrustworthiness while also fueling antagonism between allies.