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Traditional Medicine Draws West

A foreign woman recently managed to successfully treat a patient using acupuncture needles in the clinic of the first affiliated hospital of Tianjin Chinese Medical College.

The woman was from Lithuania and has been in China for two years, studying Chinese language and Chinese traditional medicine. The acupuncture was part of her training.

She is only a part of a growing number of foreigners who are living in China and studying traditional Chinese healing methods.

As the only official institution of Chinese medicine that will accept foreigners as students, the Medical College of International Studies for Chinese Medicine in Tianjin recruits about 400 foreign students from Europe, the United States and Southeast Asia every year. Its affiliated hospital has helped train a total of 1,365 foreign students from 42 countries and received 2,800 visitors from medical organizations in 29 countries.

"Previously, foreign students mainly came from countries in Asia, but now an increasing number of westerners are attracted by the magic power of Chinese medicine," commented Xu Li, an associate professor at the hospital.

An increasing number of in-depth Sino-foreign cultural exchanges in recent years have meant that a wider range of people is accepting Chinese traditional medicine. Statistics indicate that, in medical schools in the United States, two-thirds of the students choose Chinese medicine as an elective pursuit, or side project.

A few Chinese therapies, such as acupuncture, have been scientifically proven to be effective and have thus been adopted by many medical organizations in the United States and Canada. North American medical insurance programmes have also come to accept the effectiveness of certain Chinese therapies and are willing to cover the cost of acupuncture and other treatments. In Europe, countries such as Great Britain, France and Germany have authorized medical schools to offer four-year Chinese medicine programmes.

In order to guarantee that foreign students meet Chinese educational standards, they must pass a nationwide general test at the end of their period of study before being granted relevant academic credentials.

(People’s Daily 11/28/2000)

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