TCM gets healthy Silk Road boost

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISIT - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chinadaily.com.cn

China will is­sue a devel­op­ment plan for tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine as part of the over­all Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior TCM of­fi­cial.

The plan would fa­cil­i­tate TCM co­op­er­a­tion and devel­op­ment in coun­tries along the ini­tia­tive’s route, said Wang Xiaopin, di­rec­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Depart­ment at the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tra­di­tional Chi­ne­seMedicine.

It would cover ser­vices, sci­en­tific re­search, the drug in­dus­try, trade, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­tural ex­changes in­volv­ing the field, which has its roots in an­cient times.

The ini­tia­tive refers to in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment and trade link­ing Asia, Europe and other ar­eas, cov­er­ing more than 60 coun­tries and 4.4 bil­lion peo­ple. It is based on his­toric Silk Road routes and was launched by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in 2013.

Cen­ters will be built in ar­eas along the ini­tia­tive’s route as an­chors for TCM co­op­er­a­tion and devel­op­ment, Wang said. Plans call for 17 such cen­ters over­seas by the end of 2017.

“That’s in line with their de­mands as well,” she noted. Be­tween 2011 and 2014, over 30 coun­tries along the route, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, France, Malaysia, Italy, Aus­tralia and Qatar, ex­pressed an in­ter­est in TCM col­lab­o­ra­tion with China, such as build­ing TCM hos­pi­tals to­gether, Wang said. The plan also would ad­dress TCM stan­dards and pro­mo­tion.

China’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment also has set up a fund for in­ter­na­tional TCM co­op­er­a­tion projects, with a fo­cus on coun­tries along the ini­tia­tive’s route, she said. The amount of the fund has not been dis­closed.

In 2015, TCM ex­ports were val­ued at nearly $3.8 bil­lion, and a ma­jor­ity of the coun­tries that rec­og­nized the le­gal sta­tus of TCM medicines are within the tar­get route, of­fi­cials said.

World­wide, the TCM mar­ket as a whole, in­clud­ing ser­vices and medicines, is val­ued at more than $50 bil­lion, in­dus­try an­a­lysts said.

Still, “chal­lenges ex­ist as well,” Wang said, cit­ing is­sues like vary­ing devel­op­ment, dif­fer­ent re­li­gions and so­cial norms, dif­fer­ent reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing TCM, a short sup­ply of tal­ent and trade bar­ri­ers.

Wang Guo­qiang, head of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine, said pro­mot­ing widely ac­cepted ther­a­pies like acupunc­ture be­fore TCM drugs is an ef­fec­tive strat­egy for TCM pro­mo­tion over­seas, es­pe­cially since not all tra­di­tional medicines have un­der­gone lab­o­ra­tory test­ing.

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