George Hatem (1910-1988)
Ma Haide, born Shafick George Hatem, was a Lebanese-American doctor who practised medicine in China. He is known to be the first foreigner to obtain Chinese citizenship, when he decided to stay in China after the War of Resistance against Japan. Hatem was born in upstate New York, to parents of Lebanese background, who grew up in Buffalo, and then relocated to Greenville, North Carolina. Hatem studied pre-med classes at The University of North Carolina, the American University in Beirut and the University of Geneva. It was while he was in Geneva, that he met many East Asian students who expanded his knowledge on China. In 1933, accompanied by two colleagues, he decided to board a ship from Trieste where he journeyed to multiple ports such as Singapore and Hong Kong, before landing in Shanghai. He set up a medical practice, and during that time befriended activists and sympathisers such as Agnes Smedley. Displeased with staying put in Shanghai, he was smuggled across Kuomintang lines through his communist contacts to provide medical services to Mao Zedong's troops in Xi'an. Hatem also accompanied American journalist Edgar Snow to communist headquarters in Bao’an (present day Zhidan), and was also present at Yan’an when a group of American civil and military personnel arrived in 1944. He was affectionately nicknamed ‘Doc Ma’ and was able to provide a sense of nd comfort to the Americans who were far from their home. After visiting other communist party controlled areas, Hatem wrote a report on the medical conditions and gave suggestions on how to improve local health care.
After 1949, he became a public health official, credited with helping to eliminate leprosy and venereal diseases present in post-war China, and received the Lasker Medical Award. He was married to actress Chou/Zhou Sufei and they had a son and a daughter. Hatem died in 1988 and was buried at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery.
George Hatem with son and wife Sophie (Zhou Suzhen), a Zhejiang native
George Hatem and wife, with a doctor from Soviet Union, in Yan'an