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Gong Qihuang
Message from the President
Welcome to Peking University!

Peking University is China’s first national comprehensive university. Its lineage dates back to the Imperial University of Peking, founded in 1898. After the Revolution of 1911, the university was renamed as the National University of Peking; since 1949, it has been referred to as Peking University. Through that lineage, Peking University is honored as the founding institution of higher education in China in modern times.

Peking University has played a vital role as the pioneer in the process of China’s modernization. It was here that China’s earliest modern education system was created which facilitated the birth of China’s earliest faculties of liberal arts, natural sciences, social sciences, agricultural sciences, medical sciences, and engineering sciences. In 1917, Cai Yuanpei, a well-known educator, became the president of Peking University. Espousing the principles of freedom of thought and academic inclusiveness, President Cai carried out successful reforms at Peking University that enhanced the emancipation of thought and flourishing of academic inquiry. Many luminaries of the time such as Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao and Mao Zedong, and outstanding talents such as Lu Xun and Hu Shi, were recruited to serve or teach at the University. As one of the historical milestones in modern Chinese history, Peking University was also the center of the New Culture Movement and the birthplace of the May Fourth Movement.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Peking University has further developed into a comprehensive university focusing on the basic teaching and research in the arts and sciences. In 2000, Peking University merged with Beijing Medical University, which gave a promising prospect for the disciplines of science, engineering, medicine, agriculture, humanities and social sciences to further grow and prosper in a comprehensive way. Over the past 120 years since its founding, Peking University has trained a large number of outstanding talents, and many scientists graduated from the university have been credited with a number of honors for leading scientific research achievements. To mention but a few, the university’s scholars have made outstanding contributions to the design and building of China’s first supercomputer; the development of the world’s first synthetic bovine insulin; the invention of the first Chinese character laser typesetting system; the discovery and isolation of artemisinin used in the successful treatment of malaria; and the development of the theory of counter-current cascade extraction, used in rare-earth processing. Currently, more than 400 Peking University’s alumni and faculty are honored as the academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering. Many distinguished and influential scholars in the humanities and social sciences are also from Peking University.

While based in China, Peking University is open to the world for international collaboration. The university endeavors to build bridges for mutual exchange between Chinese and foreign cultures. Up till now, more than 100 heads of state, political dignitaries as well as Nobel Prize-winners have given speeches at Peking University. Currently, the university has established exchange programs with nearly 400 universities and research institutions of more than 60 countries and regions, and has carried out close cooperation with many of the world’s top research universities. In recent years, we have comprehensively implemented our “Study Abroad at Peking University” program, in which teachers and students from different countries and cultural backgrounds gather at Peking University via the exchange programs administered at their home institutions. Each year, through activities that allow for mutual acquaintance and understanding, conversation and participation in each other’s classes and academic performances, foreign and Chinese students come together and learn in a stimulating international milieu.

In May 2019, we released our “Peking University International Development Strategy - Global Excellence: Facing the Future with Responsibility.” We wish that on this beautiful campus that we refer to as Yanyuan, we will come to integrate social resources more meaningfully, to cooperate with leaders in every field for innovations, promote the comprehensive development of our academic capacity in general, and elevate the international influence of Peking University.

With a world-wide vision for the future, and based on our experience of higher education in China and around the globe, we are to formulate an educational paradigm informed both by national characteristics and by a global perspective, with goodwill toward all humanity. We are to arrive at a deeper understanding of what the future will demand of scholars and of scientists; promote the organic integration of general education and professional education; cultivate more high-quality and multi-interdisciplinary talents; build an extendable network for innovation; and foster new knowledge, new ideas and new technologies that promote continuous advancement for all human civilizations. These must we do, and more. We must establish a high level of global consciousness and an international vision, promote the construction of an international academic community, enhance a more meaningful integration between Chinese and foreign civilizations, work together to solve common problems facing humankind, and promote a richer and more colorful human civilization through exchanges and mutual learning.

There is an old saying in China: “For those who aspire alike, the mountains and seas are never too far to get across.” Peking University will embrace the world with a more open mind than ever. We sincerely hope that excellent students from all over the world and friends from all walks of life at home and abroad will join Peking University to witness and participate in our new round of academic achievement. Together we will create and enjoy an ever more glorious future!

PKU Today
In recent years, Peking University has entered a new stage of development. It has made remarkable achievements in disciplinary development, student training, faculty building, and scientific research, which has laid a solid foundation for building Peking University into a world-class university.
PKU History

Founded in 1898, Peking University was originally known as the Imperial University of Peking. Its establishment signified the complete collapse of the old feudal educational system that had lasted for several thousand years, and at the same time, the birth of a brand-new educational system that met the demands of development in a new age. Following China’s defeat in the First Sino Japanese War (1894-1895), initiatives were introduced to replace the outdated education system with a more modern one. In 1898, amid intensifying internal and external crises, Emperor Guangxu issued his first reform decree, declaring the establishment of the Imperial University of Peking. The University was China's first modern institution for higher education, and in its early days, it also served as the highest Administrative Office for Education.

On May 3, 1912, the government of the Republic of China ordered the Imperial University of Peking to be renamed Peking University, and the general superintendent to be renamed president. Yan Fu, a famous scholar, became the first president of Peking University. He overhauled the university curriculum in accordance with the modern academic system and the common practice of higher education around the world, while also opening new courses to introduce new ideas in the West. On May 4, an anti-imperialist political protest, also known as the May Fourth Movement, broke out. It grew out of initial demonstrations that had been led by students from Peking University. As its principal architects and supporters, Peking University students played a leading role in this revolutionary movement. The May Fourth Movement ensured that the University's students would not only play a huge role in China's development but would also become pioneers of progressive thought and patriotic sentiment.

After the nationwide restructuring of schools and departments in 1952, Peking University merged with Yenching University, becoming a comprehensive university focusing on the fundamental teaching and research of Humanities and Sciences. Peking University's international status is increasingly important as countries around the globe seek to realign their economies for a future driven by the principles of knowledge and innovation. Following the centennial celebration on May 4, 1998, Peking University, with tremendous support from the whole country, launched the goal of building a world-class university. On April 3, 2000, Peking University merged with Beijing Medical University. The combination further broadened the disciplinary structure and paved the way for the reform of medical education.

In recent years, Peking University has entered a new stage of development. It has made remarkable achievements in disciplinary development, student training, faculty building, and scientific research, which has laid a solid foundation for building Peking University into a world-class university. Like any institution, Peking University has gone through changes and reforms from its founding to the present day, yet it has remained a leader in Chinese higher education. Just as it was from its founding, Peking University continues to be a role model for the entire nation and set the standard of excellence in China.

Global Excellence Strategy
On its 121st founding anniversary, Peking University officially released the "Global Excellence Strategy", an international blueprint implemented to respond changes in the new era, expand its reform and broaden Peking University’s global presence.
The planning process for this newly implemented strategy lasted for a year. During this period of time, 10 drafts were produced, with each undergoing multiple revisions. The strategy carries out the global vision of the University and embodies the spirit of exploration. It is Peking University’s milestone to promote the reform and development in the new era on a global scale.
Chair of the Peking University Council
Hao Ping
Vice Chair of the Peking University Council
Gong Qihuang,
Chen Baojian,
Gu Tao
Gong Qihuang
Executive Vice President
Qiao Jie
Vice President
Wang Bo,
Zhang Pingwen,
Sun Qingwei,
Ning Qi,
Dong Zhiyong,
Zhang Jin
Founding Year
CAS/CAE Academicians
Full-time Students
Undergraduate Programs
Ph.D. Programs
International Students
Library Collection(k)
Last update:
December 2020