Benefits to Hong Kong
Unlike the low-tech raw herb-based CM industry in the 20th century, the new, modernized Chinese medicine industry in the 21st century will be driven by science and technology. It will be an advanced, sophisticated, knowledge-based and globally-oriented industry that can take advantage of not only the markets in the Greater China Region but the global markets as well.
HK is an international business city that possesses excellent domestic and international business intelligence and know-how. Hence it can conduct businesses directly with both Mainland and the world. In addition, HK’s CM scientific standing and reputation are so highly regarded in the world that domestic and international commercialization of CM by HK firms are more easily achievable.
Because of these characters, a modernized CM industry will bring many benefits to HK. Some of these benefits are:
- Creating new, high-paying employment opportunities
- Increasing HK’s tax revenues
- Lowering HK’s overall healthcare expenses
- Providing an alternative yet culturally attuned medical choice to the citizens
- Widening of HK’s economic base in support of HK’s Economic Restructuring
- Strengthening HK’s position as a center for the globalization of CM in commerce, medicine, science, technology, education and informatics.
If properly established, the modernized CM industry could add one more “dynamo” to HK’s economy. This will not only contribute directly to HK’s financial growth but will also reduce HK’s risk for relying on too few “old” industries. Furthermore, the modernized CM industry can also bring other intangible benefits such as the promotion of the citizens’ health and well-being if it is properly integrated into the current healthcare system.
Modernizing the HK CM Industry
For HK to participate in the approaching CM globalization, building up a modernized CM industry is the key. In the past, one viewed CM industry rather narrowly to include only manufacturing, trade/marketing and practice. A modern view of CM industry should include all the sub-sectors shown in the previous section. To modernize the HK CM industry, one must consider and plan for all the sectors in a comprehensive manner.
However, it would not be prudent to develop and promote all the sub-sectors all at once. A preferred approach would be to designate trading and Chinese medical sciences as the leading sub-sectors and allow them to pull all the other sub-sectors along based on business, product and service needs. While trading will utilize current available merchandise to generation revenue, CM sciences will help sort out the fundamentals of the traditional CM disciplines and develop the next generation of novel products. The financial returns this process generates will then be routed back to support the other sub-sectors and the subsequent rounds of development.
The advancement of the CM industry requires expert knowledge from many CM disciplines. The government bureaus can engage directly in these developmental activities or it can appoint a civilian body equipped with the necessary expertise to handle this task. In comparison, a dedicated civilian body has the advantage of being more agile, more professional and unencumbered by bureaucracy.
We propose that, after the government has studied the CM development issues thoroughly and finds it a practical project to proceed, it should then appoint a civilian body, name it the Chinese Medicine Development Commission (CMDC) 中醫藥發展專署and make it the sole agency to be responsible for the planning and the development of CM in HK. The Commission could consist of a board of directors, a secretariat and a number of advisory/expert committees. Since its activities span over a number of bureaus, it’d be better for it to report directly to the Chief Executive or Chief Secretary for Administration.
In the following paragraphs, in order to keep the discussion focused, we assume a CMDC is to be established to foster the development of the CMIC. If CMDC were not to be formed, the following ideas can still be applied separately to the relevant government bureaus and agencies.
CMDC’s Missions, Objectives and Operations
With the benefits listed in the previous section as a guide, the mission of CMDC can be set accordingly ”to foster the establishment of a robust, modern, knowledge- and technology-based CM industry in HK and to secure and maintain HK as a CM international center.”
After consultation with the CM and other stakeholders, CMDC can set up a number of near-term and long-term objectives for itself. Some of the objectives that it can consider are listed in the table on next page﹕
Although CMDC is an independent agency, however, it should operate in concert and in consultation with other bureaus and agencies, such as the Department of Health, Chinese Medicine Council of HK, JCICM (Jockey Club Institute of Chinese Medicine), Fisheries and Conservation Department, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Trade and Industry Department, Customs and Excise Department, HK Productivity Council and HKTDC etc. While all the agencies, institutions and organizations above are expected to contribute one way or another to support CM in general and to maintain HK as an international center of CM in particular, CMDC is the umbrella organization that is specifically charged with the responsibilities to develop the CM industry and to foster and coordinate CM-related activities in HK.
- To foster the modernization of the CM industry in HK through professional training, business intelligence dissemination, scientific supports, forward-looking and coherent policy, realistic regulations and financial supports
- To support and promote ICMCM as an international trading/exchange platform for CM.
- To promote the harmonization of CM regulations and policies within the Greater China Region
- To facilitate the development of evidence-based healthcare programs for integrative medicine with the CM and western medical practitioners collaborating in the community as well as in hospitals.
- To develop CM Specialty Colleges to enhance modernized CM postgraduate training with knowledge, attitude and skills consistent with Mainland experts’ practice
- To establish an Informatics Center consisting of an international multi-dimensional and multi-professional network to generate, disseminate and exchange CM knowledge
- To establish a CM Research Council to commission strategic projects leading to the advancement of CM science, technology, products, education and practice