Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015  book cover
1st Edition

Public Health and the Modernization of China, 1865-2015

ISBN 9780367361624
Published December 18, 2020 by Routledge
320 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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





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