Gradually, it dawned on me that in reality there was no great interest in acquainting us with the techniques of acupuncture and needle analgesia, and that there was no real intention on the part of the Chinese Communist Party to initiate us into the scientific authenticity of Chinese methods of healing. So what actually was the intention? I would eventually find out what it was . . .
It’s 1978, Mao Tse-tung is barely dead, and the Cultural Revolution is still in full swing. It’s also the year that a group of western doctors, including the German Ralf Rompard, are invited to the People’s Republic to learn the secrets of Chen-chiu, or acupuncture, directly from Chinese practitioners themselves. With their rooms tapped, their every move monitored and their Chinese interpreters deciding what can and cannot be translated, the group quickly become cynical about the motives of the Chinese Communist Party in inviting them over. Cynicism become horror when they witness an operation using needle analgesia during which the patient is clearly in excruciating pain.
This truly eye-opening account of life and the practice of acupuncture in 1970s China is written with humour and honesty and has an equally unpredictable ending . . .