China plans to open more Confucius Institutes to teach traditional Chinese medicine overseas and promote the Eastern medical science, Deputy Minister of Health Wang Guoqiang said on Monday.
"We are working closely with the Ministry of Education and the Confucius Institute headquarters to open more TCM Confucius Institutes and add TCM-related courses to the syllabus of existing ones," said Wang, who is also director of the State Administration of TCM.
"TCM, particularly its preventive aspect, is very well received abroad, regardless of nationality or ideology," Wang told China Daily in an interview on Monday.
However, he added, China lacks skilled TCM practitioners who speak a foreign language.
Xu Lin, the institute's chief executive, previously said TCM would be a highlight of newly opened Confucius Institutes in coming years.
Confucius Institutes, named after the ancient Chinese philosopher, are nonprofit public institutions for promoting Chinese language and culture abroad.
To date, there are more than 350 Confucius Institutes and 500 Confucius Classrooms in 101 countries and regions, official statistics showed.
Two Confucius Institutes are specially dedicated to teaching TCM - at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, and London South Bank University.
"We are now preparing a third in the United States," Xu revealed.
On June 20, Vice-President Xi Jinping inaugurated the TCM Confucius Institute in Melbourne, saying it opened a new window for foreigners to learn about Chinese culture.
At present, such institutes are committed mainly to spreading Chinese culture, with a focus on TCM, rather than training TCM doctors, Wang said.
"We've encountered rejections and barriers when we try to promote our culture abroad, and TCM courses might be a breakthrough, because preserving health is commonly valued by all human beings and is more easily accepted abroad," he said.
Also, "local conventions and cultures should be considered while teaching TCM to foreign students, and new media, such as cartoons and video games, can be tried", he said.
Li Daning, deputy director of the State Administration of TCM, urged TCM universities on the mainland to think about and explore how to integrate TCM with Chinese language instruction.
"The administration will support the project, particularly of fundamental tasks, such as establishing a training base, standards for certifying teachers and textbook writing," he said.
Wang encouraged more than 20 TCM universities to seek out cooperation with overseas universities and colleges in setting up more Confucius Institutes to spread TCM.
"They should also help train more bilingual TCM practitioners to give instructions at Confucius Institutes," he said,
In addition, Chinese TCM doctors who have been practicing abroad for some time can be invited to teach at local Confucius Institutes to help ease the current shortage of qualified teachers, he added.