To Establish HK as a Chinese Medicine Internationall Center

  Council,  MCMIA

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“… Hong Kong has the potential to develop over time into an international centre for the manufacture and trading of Chinese medicine, for research, information and training in the use of Chinese medicine, and for the promotion of this approach to medical care.”

Tung Chee-wah, 1997

Since the former Chief Executive, Tung Chee-wah, called for the development of Hong Kong into an international center for Chinese medicine in his first Policy Address in 1997, the environments for Chinese medicine inside and outside of Hong Kong have changed dramatically. These changes created numerous unprecedented opportunities in business, medicine, sciences and education which Hong Kong now has the capability to take advantage of.

The leading force precipitating these changes came from the Central Government’s recent series of national policies to modernize, internationalize and re-innovate CM. Together, these policies will eventually transform CM practice and products so that they can meet both domestic and international clinical and market needs by improving on CM’s quality, safety and effectiveness.

HK’s CM industry, after a decade of evolution, now has the scientific know-how, personnel, credential and international networks to deliver these services and goods if it can be better organized into a modern industry. Furthermore, a robust CM industry in HK can contribute positively to HK’s own healthcare system and eventually to the globalization of CM.

Once a modernized CM industry is established, HK could first position itself as a “Quality-assured CM Trading Center 中藥質量保證貿易中心 [質貿中心QACMTC for brief]”, an idea which was first advanced in an international conference on Chinese Medicine held in HK in 2001. CM trading activities can help invigorate the other related and supportive CM sub-sectors (such as clinical, manufacturing, plantation, R&D and marketing) in HK and Mainland. The strengthening of this sector is not only good for HK’s CM industry, it also meets the recent appeal from MOFCOM’s (Ministry of Commerce) calling for HK to play a constructive role in the development of ”Economic Cooperation Zones outside China境外經濟合作區” to help Mainland CM companies and products enter the global markets.

In fact, a foundation for this Trading Center has already been laid jointly by MCMIA (Modernized Chinese Medicine International Association) [See Appendix I and II] and HKTDC (HK Trade Development Council) during the past 7 years and it is called ICMCM (International Conference & Exhibition of the Modernization of Chinese Medicine & Health Products). This unique international event is the only one in the world dedicated to CM trading, science and technology exchange and regulatory information dissemination. However, the Conference and Exhibition cannot continue to flourish without a strong, modern CM industry in HK and the further development of a global CM market.

On the healthcare front, CM’s distinct advantages in pre-emptive treatment (治未病), disease prevention, chronic disease care and rehabilitation should be made an essential part of primary and community healthcare with private-public partnership and multi-disciplinary participation. Future private and public hospitals should also be designed to include CM as part of the integrative health services to provide the citizen with options for effective therapy and health maintenance.

Unfortunately, to date, HK does not have a comprehensive policy to help the CM industry to develop in a concerted manner. This lack of coherence impedes HK’s ability to capitalize on the new opportunities. HK government’s continual adherence to the principle of “positive non-interference” also hinders the government’s support for promising emerging industries, such as the modernized Chinese medicine (MCM), to develop, mature and become a stronger constructive force to the economy.

MCMIA believes that it is time for the government’s and its various bureaus to review their approach to CM, to formulate a new, comprehensive CM policy and to design a program to support the development of the CM industry in HK. Specifically, MCMIA suggests that the government could create a Chinese Medicine Development Commission (CMDC) 中醫藥發展專署and charges the Commission with a long-term renewable mandate to foster the formation of a modern, robust CM industry in HK with the ultimate goal of establishing HK as an international center of CM.

The following sections describe the changes that have taken place in CM during the past 10 years and the new opportunities that are appearing domestically and abroad. Specific proposals are also made as to how HK’s CM industry can be organized to achieve its goals as a major contributor to HK’s own healthcare system and a conduit to bring CM to the world.