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In 1807, Robert Morrison, a missionary sent by the London Missionary Society in England, arrived in Guangzhou. He was the first Christian missionary in China and the London Missionary Society became the first western missionary organization in China. Since the Qing government at that time forbid foreign missionaries to do missionary work in China., Robert Morrison twas employed by the British East India Company as a Chinese interpreter, and thus had a legal status to stay in China, and could initiate the Protestant movement in Guangzhou and Macau.

After the first Opium War, the Qing government was forced to allow foreign missionaries to establish churches, hospitals, schools, etc. at the treaty ports. Missionaries from European and American countries were thus encouraged to establish churches, hospitals and schools and resumed open missions in Guangzhou. By 1843, 7 missionary societies had sent their missionaries to Guangzhou. And in Guangdong by 1860 there were over 2,000 Christian followers holding meetings at 12 religious observance sites.

Following the signing of the Tianjin Treaty in 1858, foreign missionaries were permitted to do missionary work on the mainland of China without any obstruction under the terms of that treaty as was agreed to by the Qing government.. This reality encouraged many new missionary societies to establish mission bases, and making the Christian religion a noticeable presence across the province.

The foreign missionaries opened an eye hospital in Guangzhou in 1835, which is now the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University on Yanjiang Road. The site of its former church has become the emergency room. The hospital was the first western hospital in China and many surgeries performed here were the first such cases undertaken in China Mainland.

In 1888, the Presbyterian Church in the United States and the American National Science Foundation co-funded the Christian College in China, an American style college at Shaji Jinli Port (now 623 Road). This was the forerunner of Lingnan University, which pioneered Guangdong's modern higher education, cultivating nearly a hundred years of outstanding scholars in Guangdong. In 1952, the Lingnan University, Sun Yat-sen University and other universities combined their liberal arts and science departments, forming the present Sun Yat-sen University.

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