Following is the full text of a speech by the Secretary for Commerce and Industry, Mr CHAU Tak Hay, at the Opening Ceremony of the First International Conference and Exhibition of the Modernization of Chinese Medicine today (March 14):
Dr Wong, Mr Yeung, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to officiate at the opening ceremony of the First International Conference and Exhibition on the Modernization of Chinese Medicine.
Chinese medicine holds great promise as a source of complementary and alternative medicine. It also offers vast business opportunities both in China and in the global market. With its several thousand years of history, Chinese medicine's importance in this part of the world, particularly in China, hardly needs any emphasis. Even in the modern China of today, Chinese medical practice and Chinese medicine have long been an integral part of China's medical and health care system. Chinese medicine is also gaining recognition and acceptance not just in other parts of Asia, but also in Europe and in America.
Hong Kong, with its close ties with the Mainland of China - ties of history, of culture and of blood, has a natural advantage in the exploitation of the benefits of Chinese medicine. Indeed the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, has pledged in his Policy Addresses to develop Hong Kong as a world centre for Chinese-medicine-based food supplements and pharmaceuticals.
And we are taking steps to harness the opportunities offered by Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine is becoming part of the health care system of Hong Kong. Statutory arrangements for the registration of Chinese medical practitioners are already in place. We are also establishing a statutory regulatory framework for proprietary Chinese medicine through registration requirements. A key to this regulatory process is the formulation initially of standards governing the safety and quality of Chinese medicinal products and their certification. The Government's Department of Health is vigorously pursuing these initiatives.
Outside the regulatory framework, we are making considerable investments in our universities and research institutes for R&D on Chinese medicine. The aim is three-fold.
First, we need to bring about a better understanding of the scientific basis of the preventive or therapeutic mechanisms and efficacy of Chinese medicine. Health care professionals and the public need more substantial scientific information to demonstrate convincingly whether Chinese medicine leads to positive clinical outcome, improves the quality of life and is effective, safe and beneficial.
Secondly, we need to develop and use better technologies and better protocols for the standardisation of materials and processes, as well as quality assurance.
Thirdly, leveraging on the excellent business environment of Hong Kong, we need to ensure that whatever we do will contribute to the development of a local industry in Chinese-medicine-based, high value-added dietary supplements and even drugs. A major focal point for the coordination and championing of these activities is the Institute of Chinese Medicine, which was established last year with financial support from the Government and from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
I am sure that the efforts of the relevant government agencies, the research community, and our local industry will make Hong Kong one of the leading players in the exciting development of Chinese medicine in the years to come.
Ultimately, the success of Chinese medicine as a source of alternative and complementary medicine in international markets will depend on our ability to understand market information, regulatory requirements, scientific development, intellectual property protection, quality assurance, product standardisation and other relevant issues.
I must therefore congratulate the Modernized Chinese Medicine International Association for organising this timely and meaningful event to address these issues as well as the major challenges ahead of us in the development and modernisation of Chinese medicine. I wish the Conference and Exhibition every success and all the participants a most rewarding experience.
End/Thursday, March 14, 2002