Swedish actor Nils Asther played General Yen. Asian actors were never cast in lead roles in American productions at the time. Although multilingual, Asther did not speak Mandarin. However, he did use a Mandarin dialect for the part.
Chinese officials in Washington, D.C. complained about the depiction of the treatment of war prisoners in this film (which were toned down a bit) and some dehumanizing language about the Chinese people, such as "Human life is the cheapest thing in China," (which remains in the film).