In the beginning of the Great War China, which remained neutral until 1917, wished to aid the Allies by participating in the war effort and become part of the comity of nations. However, their neutrality prevented them from sending Chinese nationals to take part in the fighting.
They chose to send Chinese workers to Europe instead. Once these men arrived in France or in Belgium in 1917 they were employed for unloading boats, building new railways from behind the lines to the front or as workers in munitions factories. They worked under French and English command. Some of them remained in Europe until 1920, contributing to the cleaning up of the battlefields and the reconstructions. However, not all the Chinese workers of the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) were workers. Interpreters also travelled to Europe. Gu Xingqing was one of them. He recounted his journey, his experience as an interpreter of the CLC and his relations with Westerners in a journal.