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China Pushing for Acupuncture`s Entry Into UNESCO List

Posted September. 15, 2010 11:43,   


China has applied to have acupuncture under the name of traditional Chinese medicine listed as a UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage, which threatens to ignite a struggle over the practice with Korea.

Chinese media said Tuesday that the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine submitted an application to UNESCO to get traditional Chinese acupuncture on the UNESCO list and is waiting for the result.

Since 2006, the administration has pushed to get listed a package of eight traditional medicines and techniques, but later opted to just pursue acupuncture.

Wu Gang, deputy director at the administration, said he is confident of obtaining the designation, saying, “UNESCO asked for the separation of medicines citing the difficulty in understanding them as a package, which is why we decided to push for acupuncture alone.”

On the background for its application, the administration said Chinese medicinal techniques including acupuncture have thousands of years of history.

This move has sparked strong opposition in Korea. The Association of Korean Oriental Medicine said, “Korean acupuncture doesn’t lag behind China’s in history and accuracy in locating points. We can neither understand nor accept China’s application of acupuncture as traditional Chinese medicine.”

Jang Jun-hyeok, the association’s international affairs director, said in a phone interview, “In 2008, experts from Korea, China and Japan participated in the World Health Organization’s designation of acupuncture point standards, and the points practiced by Korean doctors were largely adopted there. We will identify the situation and send a letter of cooperation to the World Health Organization to block China’s application. We will also promote joint activities with Japan and Taiwan, where acupuncture is widely practiced.”

“Last year when (the Oriental medicine book) Dongui Bogam written by (Korean court physician) Heo Jun was listed as a World Cultural Heritage, China claimed Dongui Bogam as its own medical book. China seems be irritated by Dongui Bogam’s listing and wants to preoccupy the world cultural market with acupuncture.”

Heated dispute over acupuncture is expected between Korea and China, as was the case with the listing of Korea’s Dano festival as a World Cultural Heritage.