For years, this medical school housed the only hospital in all Communist China and was a hotbed of political and medical activity. Today, visiting the site feels like stepping back in time. Removed from the bustle of the city, the quiet of rural China surrounds the dusty village of Liushudian. There, a single road dotted with stray chickens and dogs stretches through the town and weaves around the hospital site.
The medical hospital was originally founded in 1931 in the Southwestern province of Jiangxi under the name Chinese Workers and Peasants Red Army Medical School. The institute was reestablished outside the city of Yan’an in Shaanxi province in 1935, after the Chinese Communist Party fled eastern China and was on the brink of extinction. In 1940, Mao Zedong personally renamed the school China Medical University, reflecting his national ambitions, even though the Communists only controlled a small area of land at the time.
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