Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is losing out to western medicine in the popularity stakes in China, according to an online survey.
Only 28 percent of the 14,677 respondents to the survey by China Youth Daily and Tencent.com said they would turn to TCM first even though 87 percent said they still had faith in the centuries-old practice.
Half of the respondents who voiced their support for TCM believe it is an effective cure for many diseases but 27 percent only trust it because it is "the quintessence of China". As for the future of TCM, more than 60 percent said they were not optimistic.
A nationwide debate erupted over TCM after an online proposal was submitted by Zhang Gongyao, a professor at Central South University, urging China's health authorities to remove TCM practices from its national health service. It attracted both support and outrage from thousands of netizens.
Supporters of the proposal labeled traditional Chinese medicine "unscientific and untrustworthy" and opponents lambasted supporters for ignoring history.
China's Ministry of Health and State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine have made their opposition to the proposal.
Health officials said "traditional Chinese medicine is an inseparable and important component of China's health sector" and "Chinese medicine has been acknowledged in a growing number of foreign countries".
The traditional Chinese medicine industry, with a total production value of nearly 81.026 billion yuan (about 10.125 billion U.S. dollars), made up more than a quarter of China's overall medical industry in 2005.