Dr Wu Lien Teh (1879–1960) is best known as a returned/re-emigrated overseas Chinese medical doctor who contributed considerably to the building of China’s modern public health and medical education systems. Among the numerous books and articles he published, the absolute majority of them deal with medical topics. However, he was also the author of a number of journal articles addressing non-medical topics. In this blog essay, I will examine a group of three essays he published in the 1930s in the Shanghai-based English journal The China Critic, recording his visits to Tang Jia Wan (Guangdong), Xiamen, and Xi’an. I would argue that Wu is not only a well-trained and -published medical doctor and scientist but also a good literary writer with a patriotic heart, a defining feature of many Chinese elites active in the late Qing and republican period.
China from Empire to Republic is an ongoing Gale publishing programme aiming to digitise China-related primary source collections from libraries and archives around the world. Two collections have been released in this programme so far: Missionary, Sinology and Literary Periodicals (1817–1949) and the recent Records of the Maritime Customs Service of China (1854–1949). While the dominant topics covered in these two collections are Chinese diplomacy, foreign relations, economy, politics, Christianity, sinology, education, imperialism, and globalisation, we must not overlook another important topic – ‘overseas Chinese’ or the Chinese diaspora.