The present note provides an overview of the historical development of neurology and its current status in the People’s Republic of China, against the backdrop of the current massive transformation of Chinese society. We trace the origins of neurology in China to missionary medicine during the Republican period (1911–1949), and describe how the discipline grows with difficulty throughout the subsequent decades (1950–1976). We then introduce an influential legacy of the post-revolutionary period, the ideal of integrating traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Western medicine, and briefly describe recent efforts to modernize medical education and training. Finally, we provide a brief overview of topics in neurology and neuropsychiatry that have a ‘Chinese face’, last but not least the successful integration of TCM and Western medicine in the treatment of hepatolenticular degeneration/Wilson’s disease.

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