Reform, Opening Up Brings China Closer to the World

ByWang Shasha December 31, 2023

Tim Vukan, from Hamburg, Germany, is an expert in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and the founder of Wushan TCM, an online education platform that presents TCM courses in three languages (English, German and Chinese). He is also a fan of tai chi. 

When asked about China's reform and opening up, Vukan says, "During the past 45 years, China has gone through complex changes, with strong economic modernization and social reform, toward an opening up and a greater influence with the whole world. The policy has made China achieve strong economic growth." 

Vukan, who has been living in China for about 18 years, says it is especially interesting to see how his career has been influenced by China's reform and opening up. 

"Looking back to the year 2005, when I started my Chinese medicine studies at Zhejiang Chinese Medical University (in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province), I would not have thought that today I would have the honor to teach in front of Chinese undergraduate students who are learning the theories and practical applications I also learned during the years of receiving my education. I can now see it as a journey, beginning with the first steps I made into the Chinese language, which also opened up my understanding about Chinese culture and philosophies," he says. 

Vukan says learning the Chinese language has always been a tool that has helped him connect with Chinese, and to gain a better understanding of the various fascinating facets of their culture. 

"Just like every Chinese person is trying to build up their dreams, this vision also became my reality when I started my studies in Chinese medicine. It took a lot of effort to follow the classes, which were held in Chinese. But, at the end of the day, it gave me a feeling of deep satisfaction," Vukan recalls. 

"My teachers, and the doctors I followed in the clinic, treated me with respect, and they shared with me their deep knowledge about this fascinating ancient medicine. Likewise, in the West, people often contacted me to seek help, and to learn about the yang sheng (health maintenance) cultivation methods I learned during my time in China," he adds. 

Vukan believes China has reached a greater influence globally, and people elsewhere in the world have become more aware of its rich cultural aspects. 

He believes China's reform and opening up has connected Chinese with people in the West, and, therefore, foreigners have become part of China's great development. 

Vukan has witnessed the rapid development and increased internationalization of Hangzhou, which he considers his second hometown. 

"Like many cities in China, Hangzhou over the years has become a very modern metropolitan city. I still remember when the first Starbucks cafe was built in Binjiang District. It became our place to go, after our studies, to meet some friends, regain some energy and share our experiences while living abroad. I also often walked along the West Lake where each time young Chinese would send some greetings to me, and express their wishes to have some short English conversations with me," Vukan says. 

"This has changed so much that many international brands and companies have become a stable part of Hangzhou's development, and English, as a second language, has become natural for many young Chinese workers and employees. Hangzhou has reached the state where international business cooperation supports the current development, and helps lead the country to a brighter future," he adds. 

Vukan says, in general, the quality of life in bigger cities, like Hangzhou, has increased a lot, and the cities have modern shopping malls and international brands, not to forget the development of traditional arts, like tea and herbal medicine, which are sold with a modern approach to balance the health needs of modern Chinese. 

Vukan is impressed by the rapid development of science and technology, which have brought new changes to people's lives in China. "Nowadays, digital solutions are a strong part of our lives. Ordering food, paying in a supermarket, calling for a taxi, or booking our next medical consultation, all can be performed with a mobile-app solution, to provide a better, faster, and more efficient way to serve the people," he says. 

Vukan believes an increasing number of foreigners is interested in TCM, compared with a decade ago. "TCM is an indispensable part of my life. I will continue to promote greater understanding of TCM culture in the world, and I will help TCM benefit more people," he says.


Photos Supplied by Interviewee

(Women of China English Monthly December 2023 issue)


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