A backlash against promotion of traditional Chinese medicine – China’s latest society and culture news

Society & Culture

A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for July 14, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.


On July 11, China’s cabinet, the State Council, released new guidelines (in Chinese) on the reform and development of medical education in China. One section calls for doctors trained in Western medicine to switch their careers to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM):

“We should improve the system for Western medicine to learn from TCM. We should encourage clinical graduates to further their studies in TCM, and encourage doctors adopting Western medical practices to leave their positions and study TCM.”

Though it enjoys a considerable amount of popularity in China, mostly among elderly people,  TCM has long been criticized — in China and abroad — for not being scientific. However, there are signs recently that the Chinese government is determined to promote TCM: In late June, in a meeting with representatives from the TCM industry in Beijing, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong 刘延东 called for more efforts to advance the globalization of TCM.  

Online, the guidelines were strongly criticized. On the social media platform Weibo, the most upvoted comment reads (in Chinese), “This is the funniest joke I’ve ever heard since I studied medicine.” Another commenter inquired, “Are we living in 2017 or 1917?” Others even went further to question the real intention behind the policy. “It’s sinful to promote an ideology at the cost of lives,” one furious person wrote.