Born in 1862 in Pasewalk, Erich Paulun came to Shanghai as a navy doctor in 1893. He left the navy that year and settled down as a doctor. In 1900, with charitable donations, he spearheaded the establishment of the Tongji Hospital to provide care for destitute local Chinese.
In 1907, the German Medical School for Chinese was connected to the hospital and, a few years, later engineering programmes were added. The hospital, medical and technical schools merged in 1924 to form part of Tongji University. In 1950, Tongji Medical College moved to Wuhan.
Today, Erich Paulun is remembered as one of the most important figures in building cultural links and promoting friendship between Germany and China and remains a model for partnership between the two countries.