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Chinese TCM Maker Unveils Expansion Plan
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Leading traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) producer and retailer TongRenTang on Monday announced plans to expand its overseas chain to 100 stores by 2008.


The company already has 22 shops in 14 nations and looks to expand the overseas market for its medicines, said Xie Suhua, company general engineer.  


Last year TongRenTang exported to more than 40 countries and regions achieving about 70 million yuan (US$8.9 million) in overseas sales.


Xie said TongRenTang's expansion would include "flagship pharmacies" designed to tighten control of its overseas TCM market share.


The 300-year-old company was also considering opening its first pharmacy in Japan as well as preparing for on-line sales.


Xie said the global expansion plan faced serious challenges as the Republic of Korea and Japan were active in staking their own claims to herbal medicines which was the essence of TCMs.


But some medical experts in China were publicly disparaging of TCMs proclaiming that "the Chinese no longer need the medicine and it's time to bid it farewell."


"Chinese medicine is at a crucial point now but we're optimistic of running the industry as our ancestors did 300 years ago," said Song Weiqing, deputy manager of the company.


The medicinal effects of TCMs were widely recognized internationally and were being developed with new technologies, said Song.  


Modern TCM was no longer made in small workshops and tasted by experts but manufactured to international standards on production lines, Song explained.


(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2006)


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