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Sun Lo, the magistrate of Sanchow, China, begs Alfred Kruikshank and his wife to send their young ward Ching-Ching to safety when the village is invaded by bandits. Kruikshank refuses, even though Ching-Ching's parents were killed in a similar uprising. Sun Lo disobeys Kruikshank and sends her to Shanghai with his brother Chang, who steals her money and deserts her. After leaving Chang's boat in search of food, Ching-Ching translates for American tourist Tommy Randall as he purchases a souvenir, and the rake is charmed by her. Tommy takes her to meet his friends, with whom he is to sail that night, but when he leaves her to wait in his car, she runs after her dog when he chases a cat. Upon finding her gone, Tommy is disappointed and leaves to get drunk. Ching-Ching returns, climbs into the rumble seat to avoid the rain and falls asleep before the car is loaded onto the ship. The next morning, the frightened stowaway hides in the cabin of Susan Parker and Mrs. Hope, who are traveling to Bangkok to meet Richard Hope, Mrs. Hope's son and Susan's fiancé. Because of Tommy's playboy reputation, Susan becomes the child's temporary guardian. Tommy and Susan are attracted to each other, and soon Mrs. Hope catches him kissing her. Concerned, Mrs. Hope wires Richard to meet them ahead of schedule. One afternoon, Tommy, Susan and Ching-Ching go ashore at Hong Kong and attend a vaudeville show. Afterward, Tommy carries Susan across a muddy street just as Richard and Mrs. Hope walk by. The Hopes and Susan return to the ship, while Tommy and Ching-Ching visit a tapestry shop, where Tommy accidentally takes another child's hand, and consequently is jailed with Ching-Ching for kidnapping. The ship's captain bails them out, but Susan sees Tommy helping his drunken friends on the ship and assumes the worst. After the captain receives word that Ching-Ching must be sent to a missionary girls' home in Shanghai, Tommy is crushed to find out that, being a bachelor, he cannot adopt her. He asks Susan to adopt her with Richard, which she agrees to do. However, when Richard and his mother forbid the adoption, Susan breaks her engagement. Tommy and Susan marry in order to adopt the waif, but agree that the marriage will be in name only. When Susan goes to Reno for a divorce, Tommy tries to prove he has changed, but Susan is unswayed and becomes engaged again to Richard. Ching-Ching and Judge Booth conspire to trick Susan and Tommy into admitting they love each other, and the divorce is denied. Later, Ching-Ching sings to her new parents in front of their Christmas tree.