2016 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Epidemic Diseases in the Early Years of the Republic of China and
Society’s Coping Strategies: A Regional Comparative Study on the
Influenza Pandemic in Beijing and Tianjin versus Shanghai and
Shaoxing in 1918

Kuo-Li Pi

Center for General Education, Chung Yuan Christian University

The main purpose of this study is to use the information in contemporary newspapers to investigate the conditions of the influenza pandemic outbreak in China in 1918 to highlight the roles of of the government, charity networks, and public responses, in order to evaluate society’s coping strategy against such a disease. The influenza pandemic had spread on a worldwide scale, but many Western studies have neglected the epidemic in China. Instead, these studies more subjectively suggested that the influenza pandemic resulted in innumerable deaths and damage in China, and that it originated from China. Such subjective arguments were based on the low administrative efficiency in modern China and the lack of a public health system for handling the sudden outbreak of diseases. However, these studies neglected the historical background and the possible use of traditional methods for knowing and preventing diseases in Chinese society. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive investigation through historical data to further assess and discuss the epidemic situation of the influenza pandemic. This study focuses on two regions suffering from more serious epidemics: Beijing and Tianjin in the north and Shanghai and Shaoxing in the south, to compare the conditions of the epidemic in these two major regions. In addition, this study also investigates the conditions in other provinces to comparatively analyze differences in dealing with the influenza pandemic by provincial governments, country gentry, and charity organizations, and to highlight the history of social aid and coping strategies for the disease.


Keywords: influenza, history of disease, region, social history, medical treatment, charity