It may be much later than you think.
The local Chinese doctoral degree discussions were after the abolition of imperial examinations in the Qing Dynasty.
In 1906, the Faculty of Education proposed to establish a bachelor and doctorate two-level degree system. At this time, the Qing government was unable to protect itself from internal and external difficulties, and reforming education could not be put on the agenda. In 1912, the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China promulgated the “University Order”, which stipulated the method for awarding doctoral degrees. First of all, it is required to be a university student, secondly to have “newly discovered academic theories or important works”, and finally, to be reviewed by relevant institutions. Strictly speaking, it is somewhat similar to my PhD today, but it is closer to the senior PhD in the UK, which is an honorary title.
During the period of the Nationalist Government, the number of people returning from studying abroad gradually increased. People from different countries and different training systems called themselves “Doctors.” Therefore, the call for establishing a degree system became higher and higher. The Kuomintang has also discussed this matter “seriously”, but at the beginning, the right to confer a doctorate degree was in the Ministry of Education (subordinate to the Executive Yuan), and it was not long before the Examination Yuan (equal to the Executive Yuan) was worried about it. They don’t belong to each other, they argue with each other, and they won’t stop at the end.