In the 1940s and 1950s, the aftermath of World War Two forced a reckoning for the international residents of Shanghai and its environs. The forces of decolonization and an internal struggle between Chinese political powers that devolved into civil warfare combined to create an enormous pressure on foreigners to leave the city. Counted among them were thousands of externally displaced persons, including European “refugees” long resident (and sometimes native born) in Shanghai and Chinese “foreigners” who fled homes in Southeast Asia and sought a return to those regions. The status of these displaced persons created both problems and opportunities for two successive Chinese governments. The Republic of China looked for ways to reassert control by ridding the city of the vestiges of colonialism, which ultimately included wartime refugees (like German, Austrian, and Eastern European Jews) as well as White Russians from previous conflicts. At the same time, they sought to return displaced overseas Chinese to their homes in Southeast Asia, which in the midst of their own anti-colonial movements, rejected them as part of a Chinese imperialist project. In this project, I explore both the Chinese governments’ dueling definitions of colonialism and the ways that refugees and displaced persons sought to situate themselves and their identities to their greatest benefit in the mass population movements that began in the wake of the war.