An Overview of Peking University
Founded in 1898 and originally named as the Imperial University of Peking, Peking University was China’s first state-run comprehensive university and the highest education administration of China at that time. In 1912, after the 1911 Revolution, the university adopted its current name.
Peking University has made irreplaceable contributions to the rejuvenation, liberation and development of the nation as well as the civilization and progress of society. For example, it was the center of the New Culture Movement, the source of the May Fourth Movement, the cradle of Marxism in China and the cradle of democratic and scientific thinking, and finally the earliest base
for activities of the Chinese Communist Party. It has also played an important role in pioneering the course of China’s drive towards modernization. The university’s traditional emphasis on patriotism, progress, democracy, and science, together with its educational standards of diligence, precision,truth, and innovation, have been a university legacy that has been passed down from generation to generation.
In 1917, famous educator Cai Yuanpei became the president of Peking University. By following the principle of freedom of thinking and allowing for the coexistence of different schools of thought, he carried out successful reforms in Peking University and promoted free thinking and academic progress. A large number of individuals with outstanding talent, including Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao, Mao Zedong, Lu Xun and Hu Shi, once served or taught at Peking University.
After the Lugouqiao Incident in 1937, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Nankai University moved to the southern city of Changsha and merged to form Changsha Temporary University. Soon after that, it moved to Kunming and was renamed the National Southwest Associated University. In October 1946, after the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, Peking University resumed classes in Peiping.
In 1952, after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China’s institutions of higher learning underwent a number of adjustments at both the department and college levels. As a result,
Peking University became a comprehensive university focusing on basic education in sciences, humanities and research. It has trained a large contingent of talented individuals for the country. It is estimated that there are over 400 academicians (members) of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) among the alumni and faculty of Peking University. There are also many influential figures in China in both the fields of humanities and social sciences from Peking University.
Since the implementation of reform and the open-up policy, Peking University has entered an unprecedented period of development and progress, and was designated as one of the two key universities to be given priority in the national 211 Project.
May 4, 1998 marked the centennial of Peking University. President Jiang Zemin made a speech at the centennial celebration and called for the establishment of a few universities in China that would meet world-class standards in order to serve the higher goals of modernization. With the support of the state, Peking University launched the timely program of “establishing a world-class University” and subsequently turned a corner in its history.
On April 3, 2000, Peking University merged with the former Beijing Medical University and formed the new Peking University. Beijing Medical University was formerly the National Peking Medical School which was founded on October 26, 1912. In the 1930s and 1940s, Beijing Medical
University, then named the Medical School of Peiping University, was, in July 1946, merged into Peking University. During the nationwide period of adjustments within Chinese institutions of higher learning, the Medical School of Peking University separated from Peking University and became the independent Beijing Medical College. In 1985, it was renamed the Beijing Medical University and was included among China’s first group of medical universities under strong national support in the 211 Project. The merging of these two universities has expanded the disciplines of Peking University, promoted the integration of medical sciences, humanities, social sciences and sciences, and laid a foundation for reform of medical education.
In recent years, with the support of the 211 Project and the 985 Project, Peking University has stepped into a new phase of historic development and made remarkable and comprehensive achievements in the development of the disciplines, honors education, building up of the faculty, teaching and research, all of which have laid a solid foundation for establishing Peking University as a world-class university. Today Peking University has become the nation’s cradle for educating
high-quality, innovative and talented individuals, for being a frontier of scientific research, for providing an important base of fostering innovative knowledge, and for acting as an important bridge and window for international exchanges.