Traditional Chinese medicine classes introduced to elementary-school children in Zhejiang – China’s latest society and culture news


“When Koreans attempted to get traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) on the UNESCO lists of intangible cultural heritage, you guys were furious. But now as China started to attach importance to TCM, you guys criticized the practice with contempt. So what’s your exact stance on this?”

“Disastrous! Can we offer kids something useful like proper sex education?”

These two comments indicate how online opinions (in Chinese) split in response to the news that starting from this year’s fall semester, fifth-grade students in Zhejiang Province will take compulsory classes about traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), being the first generation of children in China who are required to have TCM knowledge.

According to Qianjiang Evening News (in Chinese), 100,000 textbooks are already on their way to local schools, and 600,000 more copies are being printed on an urgent timeline. The course comprises 36 hours evenly distributed throughout the entire semester, said Fang Jianqiao 方剑乔, president of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University (ZJMU) and chief editor of the textbook. The content taught in the classes, as Fang told the newspaper, will basically cover every aspect of TCM, including basic methods, exercise, sports, diet, mood, and special treatments such as acupuncture and massage. Fang also said that elementary-school teachers received trainings from professors at ZJMU at the end of August, and that textbooks for middle-school students are scheduled to come.

Starting this year, China has been aggressive in its revival of TCM, the Economist reports (paywall). In July, China’s cabinet, the State Council, released new guidelines on the reform and development of medical education in China, which called for doctors trained in Western medicine to shift in their careers and pivot to TCM. Statistics quoted by the Economist’s article suggest that the number of Chinese hospitals where TCM treatments are available climbed from about 2,500 in 2003 to 4,000 at the end of 2015. Meanwhile, the number of licensed practitioners of TCM also reached 452,000, an almost 50 percent increase from 2011.


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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun is a Chinese native and was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allows her to pursue a journalistic career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.