Peking University was established as the Imperial University of Peking in 1898 when it received its royal charter by the Guangxu Emperor. A successor of the older Guozijian Imperial College, the university’s romanized name ‘Peking’ retains the older transliteration of ‘Beijing’ that has been superseded in most other contexts. Perennially ranked as one of the top academic institutions in China and the world, as of 2021 Peking University was ranked 16th globally and 1st in the Asia-Pacific & emerging countries by Times Higher Education, while as of 2022 it was ranked 12th globally and 1st in China by QS World University Rankings.
Throughout its history, Peking University has had an important role “at the center of major intellectual movements” in China. Abolished of its status as a royal institution after the fall of the Qing dynasty and the Xinhai Revolution; from the early 1920s, the university became a center for China’s emerging, progressive, and republican movements. Faculty and students held important roles in originating the New Culture Movement, the May Fourth Movement protests, and other significant cultural and sociopolitical events, to the extent that the university’s history has been closely tied to that of modern China. Peking University has educated and hosted many prominent modern Chinese figures, including Mao Zedong, Lu Xun, Gu Hongming, Hu Shih, Mao Dun, Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, and current Premier Li Keqiang.
Peking University is a member of the C9 League, Double First Class University Plan, Project 985 and Project 211. The university library contains over 8 million volumes. The university also operates the PKU Hall, a professional performing arts center, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Arts and Archaeology. The university is also renowned for its campus grounds and the beauty of its traditional Chinese architecture. Additionally, it hosts one of the only undergraduate liberal arts colleges in Asia, and is a Class A institution under the Chinese Double First Class University program. Peking University’s staff include 76 members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and 25 members of the World Academy of Sciences.