Famous author has the characters for his next bestseller: The TCM clinic that left him in agony

·3-min read

A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shop in eastern China may soon find itself as high-profile characters in the next bestselling mystery novel, although the clinic probably hopes that fate does not come to pass.

Ningbo Renyitang TCM Hospital, in Ningbo, a city in Zhejiang, has felt the wrath of Chen Xu, better known by his pen name Zi Jinchen, after a failed back treatment left the author in “so much agony”.

Now, the famous Chinese mystery novelist is planning to “expose” the establishment by including the names of the clinic and the prescribing doctor in his upcoming novels.

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It is unlikely those characters would be portrayed in a flattering light and Chen added that the future characters would be involved in crucial plot points.

“Renyitang and Doctor Tang’s names will be important parts in my next three works, and they will enjoy free product placement,” Chen told the mainland news portal Thecover.

He added on Weibo that: “I just want to expose them so that no more people will be tricked. I don’t need a refund or compensation. I am not for lack of money.”

The debacle originated from a diagnosis of a lumbar muscle strain at Ningbo Renyitang TCM Hospital on Saturday. Chen says that the doctor, Tang Xianyou, said acupuncture and massage would not be an effective treatment.

Tang recommended a “tiny molecule inflammation-eliminating injection” and he claimed most patients recover on the same day after receiving the treatment.

Renyitang and Doctor Tang’s names will be important parts in my next three works, and they will enjoy free product placement.

Author Chen Xu, after a botched back treatment

Chen, 35, agreed to take the injection that cost him 4,500 yuan (US$705).

After the treatment, Chen quickly felt immense pain in his waist and the misery left him bedridden.

In the evening on Saturday, Chen went to visit another hospital, where doctors said a reaction to the injection had caused the symptoms. They told him to wait for several days to see if the pain went away.

Chen claimed the doctors told him the injection contained extremely small TCM particles.

However, the complaint from Chen, who has a large audience, triggered an investigation from the Health Bureau of Yinzhou District, where the hospital is located.

The regulators found no TCM elements in the injection but did say it contained vitamins, saline and an anaesthetic drug named lidocaine.

On Sunday, the bureau fined Renyitang 35,000 yuan (US$5,500) and suspended the doctor’s license for three months for not unveiling the truth about the treatment, reported City Express.

The health bureau also accused the clinic of overcharging and said it engaged in fake marketing practices.

The Bad Kids is a popular television series based on the books written by Chen. Photo: Handout
The Bad Kids is a popular television series based on the books written by Chen. Photo: Handout

Lin Xiaoming, a lawyer from Sichuan Yishang Law Firm, said Chen might be making a mistake if he decided to use the hospital and the doctor’s names in future books, Thecover article reported.

“If he writes the names of the hospital or the doctor in his novels, and causes negative social impact for them, or jeopardises the public’s assessment of them, he could then be regarded as harming the reputation of the hospital and the doctor,” Lin was quoted as saying.

Chen shot to fame on the mainland several years ago for his crime and mystery novels. Two TV series based on his works, The Bad Kids and The Long Night, attracted millions of fans after they debuted last year.

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