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Wars frequently instigate the expansion of health services, a key component of state building. China first witnessed rapid growth in military and civilian health services during the War of Resistance against Japan (1937–1945). This essay explores two factors that enabled this development: low-paid medical work of women and an influx of charitable donations from overseas. It centers gender and women's care work in its analysis and argues that attention to the interpersonal and affective facets of state making shows that atypical state agents can emerge as formidable state-builders in an extraordinary time. As with other facets of the Communist state, health administration owed much to Nationalist-era growth and innovation.