The Peoples Republic of China was established in 1912 and the period covered by the First & Second World War was one of constant political, economic and violent turmoil for the new nation. It was only in the late 1920s under Chang Kai-Shek that China became a unified nation. Even then they were at war with communists until 1936 and in 1937 the second Japanese War began
The Merchant Navy was a place Chinese men could work and earn money for their families. Southampton Archives has the records of many of those men, and these are just a few.