Examining Britain's imperial outposts in 1920s East Asia, this book explores the changes and challenges affecting the Royal Navy's third largest fleet, the China Station, as its crews fought to hold back the changing tides of fortune.
Bridging the gap between high level naval strategy and everyday imperial culture, Heaslip highlights the importance of the China Station to the British imperial system, foreign policy and East Asian geopolitics, while also revealing the lived experiences of these imperial outposts. Following their immersion into a new world and the challenges they encountered along the way, it considers how its naval officers were perceived by the Chinese populations of the ports they visited, how the two communities interacted and what this meant at a time of 'peace'.
Against the changing nature of Britain's informal empire in the 1920s, Gunboats, Empire and the China Station highlights the complex nature of naval operations in-between major conflicts, and calls into question how peaceful this peacetime truly was.
Matthew Heaslip (University of Portsmouth UK.)
Country of Publication:
01 October 2020
Contents Table of Illustrations Introduction Part I: Joining the China Station Looking Beyond the Battle-Fleet The Royal Navy's Role in Britain's Interwar Foreign Policy Britain's China Conundrum Part II: Between China and Japan, the China Station's Strategic Balance The Right Warships in the Right Places? China: Friend or Foe? Surplus to Requirements: The China Station Ashore The Hong Kong Question The Cooperation Challenge Europe's Retreat and an Emergent 'Special Relationship' Part III: Adapting to a New China in a Violent Peace Britain's Changing Interests in China The Royal Navy's Growing Piracy Challenge An Exceptional Deployment: the Shanghai Task Force Britain's Global Struggle Against Communism A Changing Role in Protecting British Civilians Part IV: Technological development and imperial policing Maintaining Imperial Prestige: Hermes the Trickster Understanding China Responding to Crises Naval Gunfire at Wanxian and Nanjing Controlling the Violence Part V: Changing Attitudes, Ideas, and Approaches Late-Victorian Gunboat Diplomacy in East Asia A Failed Attempt at Returning to Pre-War Ways The Impact of the May Thirtieth Incident A Double Crisis: Gunboat Diplomacy Living up to its Reputation The Gunboat Retreat Sailing to War Conclusion The Royal Navy's Peacetime Frontline Appendix: Examples of Key Warship Types Bibliography Index
Matthew Heaslip is Lecturer in Naval History at the University of Portsmouth, UK.
Reviews for Gunboats, Empire and the China Station: The Royal Navy in 1920s East Asia
This is an excellent book and one of the most important academic contributions to the understanding of the tactical, operational and strategic significance of the Royal Navy in the Far East for decades. The story links historical evidence and events to current day RN operations, showing with great clarity and authoritative research that these new missions for the RN are indeed just things they have done before. * Greg Kennedy, Professor of Strategic Foreign Policy, King's College London, UK * This impressive book makes an important contribution to British naval history. Heaslip's rich and detailed study shows that the interwar period was far from peaceful in East Asia, where the Royal Navy's China Station was continuously engaged in anti-piracy operations, showing the flag , and gunboat diplomacy . This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the British sea power. * Christopher Bell, Professor of History, Dalhousie University, Canada * Matthew Heaslip's Gunboats, Empire and the China Station transforms our understanding of the Royal Navy in the 1920s. Rather than a sleepy backwater, the China Station was at the cutting edge of the Royal Navy's adaptation to the challenges of policing a volatile imperial frontier in a tumultuous decade. Heaslip's engaging study of command, operations and technological innovation is essential reading for historians of the Royal Navy, the British Empire and the international politics of East Asia in the era of imperial retreat. * Joe Maiolo, Professor of International History, King's College London, UK *