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Traditional Chinese Medicine to Apply for World Heritage

The Chinese government considers traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) an important intangible heritage of China, and plans to submit it to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as candidate for the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (MOIHH).
Chinese Vice-Minister of Culture Zhou Heping told reporters in Beijing Tuesday at a press conference that TCM was developed from the long-term practice of ancient Chinese people, and needs to be further protected and developed.
Early this year, Shen Zhixiang, a senior official with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine reportedly said that government bodies were working to submit the bid. Once the application is approved by the UNESCO, the protection and development of traditional Chinese medicine will be pushed forward.     
At present, China has established agreements with other countries on the use of these medicines, which, in experts' opinions, were necessary and would play an active role in getting it accepted abroad.
China's TCM exports rose by an average of yearly 5.5 percent over the past five years. Exports were worth 720 million US dollars in 2003. The global natural herbs industry will be worth 200 billion US dollars in 2008.
MOIHH is defined by UNESCO as the practices, representations, expressions and knowledge and skills that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.
So far, UNESCO has named 47 MOIHH, including Chinese Kunqu Opera and Guqin Music. This year, the 12-part suit of ancient Uygur music "Mukam" in west China's Xinjiang Province will bid for the selection.

(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2005)


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