In May 1979 I was one of 12 surgeons invited jointly by the Chinese government and the Chinese Medical Association to visit medical centers in their country. Ours was one of several different academic disciplines such as archaeology and engineering asked to visit at about the same time. Our trip lasted 17 days, which since has become the standard time for visits by many medical groups. All in-country arrangements and guidance were by the Chinese government, which showed every evidence of welcoming professional groups.
Before undertaking specific comments on the medical aspects of the trip, it is impossible to resist the instinct of the returned traveler to provide the reader with some general impressions unhampered by any expert knowledge. In the Chinese people there was an obvious, immense reservoir of cheerful and warm friendliness which was characteristic of every urban or rural contact we had. With a population of approximately