The State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine said on January 9 that they have officially started bidding for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to be included on the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
The draft bid is complete, and the administration expects to submit its official application to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) within the year.
According to the head of the International Cooperation Department of the administration, Shen Zhixiang, the application will include information such as the traditional medicines of the Han Chinese and other ethnic groups, TCM theory, practical skills and materials resources.
"Some of the key characteristics of TCM include systematic documentation and its widespread recognition. Although tangible heritages like cultural sites, relics, and literature do exist in the field of TCM, there are also the intangible aspects such as practical methods, a knowledge system, and the processing of medicines. This is why we are presenting the whole package, as it were, for the bid," Shen said.
The administration has been working on its bid since 2003, working closely with UNESCO.
With a long history in China, TCM has grown in popularity and influence over the years. By the end of 2004, several TCM-related health cooperation agreements were signed between China and 51 countries including the United States, Canada, France, UK, and Germany; 17 special cooperation agreements were signed with countries such as Norway and Ireland.
There are more than 50,000 TCM institutions in more than 130 countries with acupuncturists numbering more than 100,000. There are estimated 20,000 registered TCM practitioners, and an increasing number of TCM patients.
(China.org.cn by Li Xiaohua, January 11, 2006)