After the Second World War ended in 1945, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) tried to seize Qingdao, a major port city on the Shandong Peninsula. The landing of U.S. Marines there foiled the CCP's attempt. With the support of the Kuomintang (KMT)—the CCP's main enemy—the U.S. Marines stayed in Qingdao throughout the civil war in China, from late 1945 to mid-1949. Drawing on archival sources from China, the United States, the former Soviet Union, Great Britain, and Japan, this article explores CCP-KMT-U.S. interactions regarding the presence of U.S. Marines in Qingdao. The KMT-CCP civil war influenced—and was influenced by—the presence of the Marines in Qingdao. The KMT government depended on the U.S. Marines for security, whereas the CCP, opposing the U.S. presence, took a tough propaganda stance but remained cautious in its actions. The United States ultimately decided to withdraw the Marines to avoid overt involvement in the Chinese civil war. This type of triangular engagement influenced the future pattern of Cold War confrontations among the three parties.

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