Built in 1898 and originally named the Imperial University of Peking (京师大学堂), Peking University was the first national university of the country as well as the first university in modern China, marking the beginning of the modernization of China’s higher education. The university acts in a way as the political barometer of China: among its stormy 20th century creations were the May 4th Movement and the New Culture Movement of 1919, which precipitated the rise of communism in China. Specializing in art and literature, the university has produced such alumni as current Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (李克强).
Stop by to check out the bronze statues and commemorations on campus, including one dedicated to Cai Yuanpei (蔡元培, 1868-1940), former president of the university and inspiration for the May 4th movement.
With 29,880 students and 15,419 graduate students, Peking University is only slightly beaten by Tsinghua University in terms of headcount. A decent international population calls Peking University home as well, with 2,326 foreign students from 80 countries hitting the books. Mao Zedong was once a librarian here, and the famous revolutionary Li Dazhao and renowned writer Lu Xun had working stints on campus too. The latter two have residences in Beijing open for public viewing.