Traditional Chinese medicine is readily identified with China by people overseas, an official said yesterday, opening a possible new avenue for the nation to project soft power around the globe. Wang Guoqiang, deputy chief of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, attributed traditional medicine’s high recognition to the authority’s attention to its development and the increasing recognition of its value by the international community. Wang said traditional Chinese medicine centres set up overseas were very popular, as he witnessed during a recent visit to the Czech Republic. Nobel Prize for Tu Youyou gives traditional Chinese medicine a shot in the arm “I’ve been to some countries and many state leaders mentioned they wished to import TCM to their own country. Their awareness and recognition of TCM is continuously rising,” Wang told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday morning. Wang said traditional Chinese medicine centres set up overseas were very popular, as he witnessed during a recent visit to the Czech Republic. In recent years, traditional medicine has received a strong boost from the central government, which sees it as an affordable complement to more costly conventional healthcare. Traditional Chinese medicine doesn't have to be cruel to animals Traditional medicine was also a growth industry, Wang said. The industrial output of traditional pharmacy had grown by at 20 per cent for the past five years, and last was valued at 786 billion yuan (HK$872 billion), a third of all national drug production. The white paper said the relatively low cost of traditional medicine had contributed rather a higher share of services in relation to the resources allocated to it. Medical care services provided by traditional medicine institutions in increased from 14.3 per cent of medical services nationwide to 15.7 per cent in the few years from 2009 to 2015. The document cited the example of Tu Youyou, a researcher who studied both traditional Chinese and modern Western medicine, won the 2011 Lasker Award for clinical medicine and the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering the antimalarial drug artemisinin, derived from sweet wormwood, a herb used in traditional medicine. Five things you should know about cupping, Chinese medicine therapy on view in Rio Traditional medicine was put on the global spotlight in August when Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps showed up with purple marks after cupping, a traditional therapy said to improve blood circulation. Traditional Chinese medicine has not been without controversy, especially in the hands of quack practioners. Last month, a diabetic woman died in Britain after receiving “slapping therapy” that claimed to expel bodily toxins. Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, was found dead in her room on October 20 in Seend, Wiltshire. It was understood one of those arrested was Hongchi Xiao, a Chinese therapist running the “paida lajin” retreat, The Guardian reported. He was also questioned by the police in Australia after the death of a seven-year-old boy from Sydney who had attended one of his workshops.