Rise of church, concession and western hospital


      The western hospital of Shanghai can be dated back to the middle of the 19th century. Its rise and development were closely related to the transmission of foreign religion, in which the churches and missionaries played a key role. This is because fellow countrymen were vigilant against foreign religion at that time. It was hard for western religions such as Christian to be spread. For this, the strategy was changed. They made breakthrough by establishing hospital and school to expand and spread foreign religion by means of giving free medical treatment and administration to pass on knowledge. Such subtle strategy generated obvious effect. The population believing in foreign religion rapidly rose. Citizens, no longer confused, began to accept the foreign religion, which further drove the development of western hospital in Shanghai. Until 1949, there were nearly 300 western hospitals in Shanghai, most of which were founded by or related to the church.

      Concession also played a role in pushing the development of western hospital. It is well-known that concession, "a state within a state", is a special channel through which the big powers seize China's fortune. However, there were indeed some public utilities like electric light, phone, coal gas, tap water and urban traffic when the concession was set up. Hospitals were another measure for municipal construction of the concession. In those days, the western hospitals established by the concession include the Hospital of Municipal Council and Police Hospital. General Hospital was co-founded with and financed by the church. In addition, the concession authority also promulgated decrees and formulated regulations to require the practicing doctors and medical organizations to register, collect license and pay taxes with administrative means. These are the hard fact. To regard this with dialectical materialism opinions, we should admit that these measures taken by the concession indeed objectively played a role in pushing Shanghai economic and social development and city towards modernization. Nevertheless, all this cannot change the nature of colony of the concession which is produced from the unequal treaties that concluded with the big powers under their compulsion when they invaded China. Chinese people are keeping and will always keep this nearly 100 years of humiliating history in mind.


Establishment Process of General Hospital and Its Early Situation

      In 1884, Renji Hospital opened outside Dadong Gate, Shanghai County. 20 years later, another western hospital - General Hospital, predecessor of our hospital was founded at the Bund of the concession. Both of them are the first western hospitals of Shanghai and established by foreigners. The former is a church hospital, while the latter is the public utility of the concession with the church participated in preparation and management. 

      It was Aitang (Edan), the consul of France who first advised to set up a hospital of the concession at Ningbo in 1856. Then, they considered that it was not convenient as Ningbo was far away from Shanghai and there was a hospital for the British and French expeditionary forces at the French Concession. Thus, this plan was temporarily put off. Later, the hospital left Shanghai with the expeditionary forces. It was increasingly harder to see doctors for foreigners. Therefore, the authority of the French Concession decided to put the construction plan into practice in 1863 and entrusted the priest of the Catholicism Deyake to do it. Religionist Deyake had been missionary in the US and worked as the priest of Catholicism at Yangzebang of the parish at the south of Yangtze River after coming to China. He happily accepted this task and began to prepare it as an agent as it was beneficial for foreign religion to be popularized by setting up a hospital. He raised 50,000 taels of silver from people with different nationalities and beliefs in the name of participation. Then, he selected the building on the corner of Rue Colbert of the Bund at the rent of 300 taels of silver each year. The hospital officially opened on Mar. 1, 1864. Deyake is therefore deemed as the founder of General Hospital by the concession and the church. A monument was set up at the North Suzhou Road as a souvenir (it was gone during the Cultural Revolution period, and whether it was damaged, stolen, or moved to some other place is still unknown).

      The concession authority formed a seven person Management Committee to manage the affairs of the hospital when the hospital was established. It provided that the finance department of the concession to subsidize the hospital and that the hospital only served for foreigners. The Catholic Church appointed sister Qiuliasi as the president. The Paul Church assigned some sisters to manage various affairs and care the patients at the hospital.

      At first, there were 35 beds at General Hospital. The departments were not clearly divided. There was only one "resident doctor" to coordinate medical affairs. Upon completion of the treatment work, practicing doctors outside the hospital should be invited.            

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