1st Edition

Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015

By Liping Bu Copyright 2017
    320 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    This book, based on extensive original research, traces the development of China’s public health system, showing how advances in public health have been an integral part of China’s rise. It outlines the phenomenal improvements in public health, for example the increase in life expectancy from 38 in 1949 to 73 in 2010; relates developments in public health to prevailing political ideologies; and discusses how the drivers of health improvements were, unlike in the West, modern medical professionals and intellectuals who understood that, whatever the prevailing ideology, China needs to be a strong country. The book explores how public health concepts, policies, programmes, institutions and practices changed and developed through social and political upheavals, war, and famine, and argues that this perspective of China’s development is refreshingly different from China’s development viewed purely in political terms.

    List of illustrations


    List of abbreviations

    Primary sources

    Introduction: modernization and public health

    1 Public health: a modern concept of national power


    From salubrious cities to polluted treaty ports

    Hygiene and public health: a divide of foreigners and Chinese

    Missionaries and Western medicine

    The Boxer Uprising, public health and modern reforms

    Social Darwinism and national strength

    The Manchurian plague and national sovereignty

    Modern prevention measures and traditional social customs

    Public health and Western medicine

    Health education campaigns: public health and national strength

    Government policy, modern medicine, and public health



    2 Science, public health and national renaissance


    The science society of China and the new culture of science

    Medical and social understanding of the human body

    Peking Union Medical College: an American outpost of medical science in China

    1917–1918 plague: epidemic prevention and popularization of science

    John B. Grant and the training of public health professionals

    Sanitary control, vital statistic collection,and tensions in the community

    Maternal care and midwifery training

    Health stations in urban and rural China

    State medicine and national health



    3 Building a modern health system: GMD’s state medicine and CCP’s people’s health, 1920s–40s


    Part I: GMD’s state building and health modernization

    Part II: Health development at CCP revolutionary bases



    4 People’s health and socialist reconstruction


    Laying the foundation: national health policies and tasks (1949–1953)

    Patriotic Health Movement, literacy, and scientific socialist reconstruction

    Uniting Chinese and Western medicines: a difficult road in the 1950s

    Healthcare in urban and rural China

    Rural health and barefoot doctors during the Cultural Revolution

    Disease control and social transformation: cases of anti-tuberculosis and anti-malaria campaigns



    5 Economic reforms and new healthcare


    Marketization of economy and the collapse of socialist healthcare

    Government efforts to reform and re-build the health system






    Liping Bu is a Professor of History at Alma College, Michigan, USA.