The recent discussion on the site of the USS Liberty Incident broght to mind the sinking of PR-5, USS Panay on 12 December, 1937 near Nanking, China.
I have always been interested in the fate of this 19 knot gunboat because my uncle was in the ship's company as Chief Quartermaster.
I discussed "The Sand Pebbles" with him in 1969. He said it rang true except for the political "load" that Hollywood had imparted to the film. He said that, in fact, the US had been openly supportive of the Kuomintang throughout this period.