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This chapter discusses the relationship between two opposing trends—the loss of jing (seminal essence) and the revival of yangsheng (the cultivation of life). Having been discouraged in the Maoist period, yangsheng regained legitimacy in post-Mao China. In a countertendency to the rise of sexual desire, many men chose to regulate that desire by preserving seminal essence and adopting a moderate attitude toward sex. Instead of repressing sexual desire, then, yangsheng can be seen as a practice of its ethical regulation. It is therefore a technique of self-mastery, a way to form an ethical self.

This chapter deals with the repositioning of TCM in response to the biological turn. The debate is introduced between two schools of impotence diagnoses and treatment in TCM—the kidney-centered perspective and the liver-centered perspective—revealing the pressure to reposition TCM vis-à-vis biomedicine because of the latter’s ascendance. The entry of Viagra into the Chinese market intensified the pressure. Faced with the choice between Chinese medicine and Viagra, men did not completely abandon TCM for biomedicine. Instead, many patients switched between the two, taking both Viagra and herbal remedies. In doing so, they both satisfied sexual desire and cultivated potency, embodying two types of ethical regimes, showing the resilience of TCM on the one hand and growing cosmopolitanism on the other hand.

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