The chapter introduces the book's main argument that Overseas Chinese medical personnel were central to the development of an adaptive, mobile, field-based form of military medicine in China and Taiwan. They adopted a global strategy of corralling resources from abroad as well as refining a local strategy at adapting foreign biomedical ideas, practices, and technologies to wartime conditions. The chapter shows how this transnational history provides a new interpretation of the history of medicine in China, the history of the Chinese diaspora, global health histories, and the history of the Second World War. These new ways of knowing, learning, and doing biomedicine through military medicine brought regimented training regimes, branch schooling, a portable medical curriculum, and philosophies of state medicine to China. Such values of universal health care and military medicine left important legacies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait after 1949.
This chapter illustrates how Wu Lien-teh, Lim Boon Keng, and Robert Lim shaped their respective institutions from 1910 to 1937. The first story describes Wu's global strategies in biomedical interventions. Born in Penang, Wu convened a successful international plague prevention conference in Manchuria, generating long-term financial and political support for this objective. The second story explores Lim Boon Keng's failed attempts at raising money for a medical school at Xiamen University solely from members of the Chinese diaspora from 1924 to 1936, revealing the limits of diasporic funding. The third story emphasizes Robert Lim's active negotiation for his position at the Rockefeller-funded PUMC, hiring of scholars of East Asian descent, and promotion of physiology and military medicine. This chapter makes the case that the various fundraising, management, and networking strategies of Overseas Chinese were critical in shaping the outcomes of their biomedical interventions.
This chapter explores how Robert Lim and his colleagues transformed Chinese medicine in four ways through the Chinese Red Cross Medical Relief Corps (CRCMRC) during World War II: controlling the spread of diseases and wounds, preventing outbreaks of disease, establishing geographical mobility, and attracting assistance from Overseas Chinese. Besides the generous financial donations from Southeast Asia's Overseas Chinese community, new groups of Overseas Chinese from Europe, North America, and Hong Kong began donating generously to—and moving to China to work specifically for—the CRCMRC. Donations for CRCMRC operations between 1938 and 1940 totaled some 2 million Chinese dollars (USD 3.68 million). This diasporic support enabled the Overseas Chinese to develop an expansive, mobile, adaptive, field-based, data-driven, and preventive wartime health care system in China. More than 4 million Chinese soldiers and civilians were treated, representing a tremendous expansion of medical care from the prewar period.
Through tracing the global and social history of the first Chinese blood bank, this chapter examines how Chinese people considered not only cultural reasons, but also reasons related to economics, altruism, peer pressure, and emotional connections, when deciding whether to donate blood to China's first blood bank. This chapter also explores the contributions of Chinese Americans by highlighting their biomedical expertise in making the first Chinese blood bank work in 1944, even as they sometimes struggled with wartime living conditions. To establish a blood bank in China, Overseas Chinese personnel studied blood banking at Columbia University, established a trial bank in New York City's Chinatown, and solicited support for the Chinese blood bank from civil rights organizations. Chinese Americans adapted US blood-banking technology to China's military medical units, which—being mobile—could bring blood transfusion practices to Chinese people in far-flung regions of the country.
This chapter explores the transnational politics of medical education in China through the contentious battle over the Emergency Medical Services Training School. Established in 1938, the school introduced a new form of medical training emphasizing large-scale, interdisciplinary education supported by a portable curriculum, decentralized branch schooling, and practically orientated field training. Much of its funding came from the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China (ABMAC), and later from United China Relief (UCR) when the latter sought to absorb ABMAC. UCR was determined to seize control of the EMSTS from Lim and his ABMAC patrons: UCR undermined Lim by challenging his proposal that a six-year medical training program replace the existing three-month one at the EMSTS. Both sides marshaled traditional allies, dispatched inspectors to survey medical educators, and forced politicians to take sides. This incident reflected the precarious nature of American assistance to Overseas Chinese medical enterprises.
This chapter explores how the National Defense Medical Center (NDMC) thrived in Taiwan despite overwhelming odds it faced in its early days. Established by Lim in Shanghai in 1946, it encountered an immediate existential threat when its primary source of funding from the Chinese diaspora and American aid organizations shriveled. Lim merged rival Chinese medical institutions into the NDMC, commandeered postwar Japanese resources, and flew to the United States to seek donors and allies. As the only medical center to move to Taiwan with the KMT in 1949, the NDMC faced an uncertain future on the island. In the mid-1950s, its personnel developed a Cold War vision of NDMC as a center for training anticommunist Overseas Chinese students. This vision persuaded the US government to financially support the NDMC in the mid-1950s. The center grew to become one of the three leading medical colleges on the island today.
This chapter examines the legacies of the Overseas Chinese style of biomedicine in postwar China and Taiwan. Lim Boon Keng's Xiamen University reemerged as a powerhouse for scientific research after the Cultural Revolution. Robert Lim's wartime advocacy for state medicine and postwar reconstruction of the NDMC contributed personnel and ideas to the successful development in the Republic of China (Taiwan) of a national health insurance model of universal health care. In the People's Republic of China, the government struggled to maintain the integrity of biomedical research, training, and institutions as it disseminated biomedical practices to a large rural population in a wartime-like environment, similar to the conundrum faced by Lim and his colleagues. In contrast to Lim's postwar emphasis on professional biomedical education, the PRC emphasized the values of political loyalty, accelerated medical training programs, and the integration of biomedicine and traditional Chinese medicine in training physicians.