This presentation argues that the global connections and medical culture forged by diasporic WWII medical personnel was central to the survival, growth, and centrality of military medicine in postwar China and Taiwan. Established in post-war Shanghai in 1946 from a military medical complex during World War II, the main military medical institution (National Defense Medical Center NDMC) faced existential threat when its primary source of financial and logistical support from the Chinese diaspora and American aid organizations shriveled up. As the only medical center to move from China to Taiwan in 1949, the NDMC faced an uncertain future on the island. In the mid-1950s, the NDMC’s personnel developed an elaborate Cold War vision of NDMC as a center for training anti-Communist Overseas Chinese students. This vision persuaded the U.S. government to financially support the NDMC in the mid-1950s, enabling the center to become one of the three leading medical colleges on the island today. The center’s philosophy of fusing medical therapy, training, and ideology played a unique role in shaping Taiwan’s exemplary universal health care system, and left an important legacy in its fight against SARS and COVID-19.
Wayne Soon, Assistant Professor of History, Vassar College
Shelly Chan, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz
Tong Lam, Interim Director, Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies at the Asian Institute and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto