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TCM master champions tradition in modern world

Zhang Qiwen, a master of China's traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, in Weifang High-Tech Industrial Development Zone, uses three phrases to summarize his contributions to the country's TCM science:"One Old", "One Young" and "One World".

"One Old" refers to his book The Road to Becoming a Famous Old Traditional Medicine Doctor, which tells the stories of how TCM masters succeed in the business in the modern world.

"One Young" refers to the young TCM doctor training program initiated by Zhang and rolled out in the 1980s.

"One World" refers to Zhang's efforts to introduce TCM to foreigners.

The Road to Becoming a Famous Old Traditional Medicine Doctor, written by Zhang and two other authors in the 1980s, collected the views of 97 famous traditional Chinese medicine doctors practicing in contemporary times.

Zhang, who worked as department head in Shandong Traditional Chinese Medicine College in the 1980s, said the book aims to give students more knowledge about TCM masters so they can better understand the practice.

The book sold out quickly after it was introduced to the market. Zhang and his team updated and republished it in the 2000s to give students the latest information from the TCM sector.

"As an aged TCM doctor, I think I am responsible to give more knowledge about TCM to people interested in the science," Zhang said.

Deng Tietao, a famous TCM master and a professor at the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, said the book is a legendary work that presents the growth and history of TCM masters in China.

TCM master champions tradition in modern world

Zhang Qiwen, a master of traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, examines the pulse of a patient. Photo provided to Chinadaily.com.cn

Educating youth

As the founder of the department of pediatrics at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Zhang created the first TCM Young Talent Training Program in China in 1985 to train more TCM practitioners.

Zhang said he got the idea when he wrote The Road to Becoming a Famous Old Traditional Medicine Doctor.

"Many masters I interviewed said they obtained TCM knowledge from three channels, which are self-study, parental teaching and learning from masters. Most of them studied TCM from childhood. I think it is very important to train talents as early as possible," Zhang said.

Before the program was introduced, Zhang and his team researched training purposes, plans, programs and teaching methods.

The first course was rolled out in 1985 to recruit students between the ages of 14 and 16 with secondary school certificates.

Zhang said 90 percent of graduates from this program are now masters in the TCM sector.

Promoting TCM abroad

In 2000, the state of Victoria in Australia passed the Chinese Medicine Registration Act, which grants TCM doctors the same rights and obligations as modern medicine doctors. Zhang, as a TCM master, put in a lot of time and effort to push the law through.

Zhang said before the legislation was passed, the status of TCM doctors in several foreign countries was awkward and sometimes controversial because TCM is often considered as having no scientific basis.

"It makes our hearts break," Zhang said. Invited by the Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Societies of Australia, Zhang visited Australia several times after 1989 to promote TCM. His visits brought more TCM knowledge to Australian people and gave them a better understanding of it.

Zhang suggested that Australian authorities should include TCM in undergraduate training programs.

Melbourne University and RMIT have established Chinese medicine-related courses to strengthen TCM training in Australia.

After working as a doctor, a university professor and a government head, Zhang believes that TCM doctors have to innovate their previous experiences. He decided to open TCM clinics to expand the impact of TCM among ordinary people. Many of his students have gone on to become leaders in the TCM sector in China.

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