These men were known as the "river rats", and they lived it up in these cities, fueled by US Dollars. The mystery that remains is why someone put a photo of apparently Russian soldiers in it. Here's an interesting entry from the website Naval History And Heritage Command that might explain the Russian (or Polish) presence. River gunboat duty in China in the early twentieth century was considered a desired assignment for a U. Known as "river rats, " American sailors assigned to river gunboats in China were considered a hard-drinking lot.
American sailors were paid in U. Dollars, which went a long way in China. American enlisted men were known to spend their disposable income at the bars and cabarets in ports such as Hankow or Shanghai.In 1917, China had welcomed an influx of Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian refugees fleeing the Russian Empire as communism took hold. This led to an influx of Russian women, many of who were former dancers and performers, at the Shanghai dance halls and clubs which American service members frequented. Shanghai offered a variety of entertainment for men of all ranks-from theaters and dance halls to the exclusive Shanghai Club, and Astor Hotel, which included a lavish ballroom.