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!