Western Medical Education on Trial: The Endurance of Peking Union Medical College, 1949-1985
In the early twentieth century, Beijing’s Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) stood as a prominent symbol ofWestern medical science and education in China. After the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) took control of the College between 1952 and 1956.This article argues that the endurance of PUMC as an institute of scientific, Western biomedicine in China was largely contingent upon reforms that the PLA instituted there. Drawing on Chinese accounts, as well as the observations of North American and European physicians, it asserts that political campaigns under Army leadership vehemently attacked American influences on the College but avoided direct criticisms of Western medical science itself. This dynamic politically legitimized the Western medical education that the College embodied. It also permitted PUMC to contribute to the development of Chinese military medicine, suggesting a significant connection between civilian and military medical education in the early People’s Republic.