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A Victory for TCM
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The basic knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) will be included in textbooks for primary and middle schools, according to State Councilor and Vice-Premier Wu Yi, speaking at a TCM conference yesterday in Beijing.

Against the backdrop of a heated debate on the fate of TCM touched off by an online proposal that this 2,000-year-old form of medicine be deleted from the State health care system, Wu's speech is inspiring for both TCM practitioners and the development of the sector.

Wu said that the government will support the export of traditional herbal medicine and back up the application for TCM to be included in the UN list of the world's non-material cultural heritage. The government will also firmly support the protection of TCM intellectual property rights.

In the debate that has involved members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, some went so far as to denounce TCM as a pseudo-science and their seemingly sound arguments have cause confusion among those who know little about TCM.

Teaching basic TCM knowledge is a necessary move to protect and carry on this traditional medicine since students have much less access to tradition than to modern novelties.

The support from the government has, in a certain sense, created a major challenge for TCM practitioners and researchers.

It is no easy job to communicate the basic theories of this pragmatic medicine in school textbooks. It is even more difficult to distil the knowledge into interesting, high quality texts so that students will both love and admire this discipline.

For the export of herbal medicines, much work remains to be done in analysis of the chemical contents of herbs to find out how these medications work.

The State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine will develop 500 standards for the basic theory, production of herbal medicine and administration of this field by the year 2010. This will help protect and promote traditional herbal medicine.

(China Daily January 12, 2006)

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