Admittedly guessing because I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure they were rib tips. Chinese love to cook with rib tips. What were they, steamed in black bean sauce? Very common dim sum and starter for Cantonese, HK, Chiu Chao, and other southern couisine. The tips are removed from the slab in a single line, just like in a St. Louis or KC trim. Then they're split, steamed to tender, marinated, and chowed. Good chop stick dexterity test, because they're too big to be a single mouthful, and require nibbling, holding and spitting out the cartilage. Hao chi (delicious) though.
You couldn't do what the other guys are describing, which sounds like a kind of pork flanken, because you couldn't eat it without a knife and fork.
The Chinese typically split the little feather bones you see on the small-end flap and use them for stuff where you don't mind picking bones out, or for stuff where the bones are a feature like congee. The regular rib bones they use in ways very similar to ours. Slow roasted, served as individual spare ribs, and eaten with the fingers. You don't see a lot of band saw work at a Chinese meat market, especially not for serving pieces. If you can't cut it easily with a meat cleaver, it's not a purely traditional cut. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen or they won't split a rack of baby backs in half lengthwise -- because they will. That's another real good possibility.
On a rack of spares, the long ends are the six ribs (usually) closest to the chine (sternum) and the next six. The next few ribs all the way to the end of the slab, often very thin and tangled together, are the "feather bones." Pigs only have one set of ribs. The baby back slab and the spare rib slab are sawed (or chopped) longitudinally from the same set of bones. The spare rib ends, farthest from the back are covered by cartilaginous tips which are connected to one another by little bands of cartilage. They're fatty and meaty and the Chinese just love them. Me too. Actually, who doesn't love an order of tips for lunch?
Don't confuse "short ribs" with short ribs, if you know what I mean. I think it's more a translated description of length, than a reference to an American cut.