Acupuncture takes stab at UNESCO list

Updated: 2010-11-12 07:54

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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Acupuncture takes stab at UNESCO list


 A patient undergoes acupuncture therapy in Jinan Chinese Medicine Hospital in Shandong province in this Sept 14, 2010 file photo. [Guo Xulei/Xinhua]


Beijing - Acupuncture and Peking Opera have been selected as candidates for UNESCO intangible cultural heritage status.

"That's significant, particularly for acupuncture, which is widely practiced in more than 160 countries and regions worldwide," said Huang Jianyin, deputy secretary-general with the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, a non-governmental organization based in Beijing.

China filed the application last year.

"Landing the status would help improve and secure the notion across the world that acupuncture and other traditional Chinese medical procedures were created in China by the Chinese," he told China Daily on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Chinese printing with wooden movable type, the technique for leak-proof partitions of Chinese junks and the Uygur folk performance Meshrep were also proposed for intangible cultural heritage status as they are in need of urgent safeguarding, the Paris-based organization said on Wednesday.

The final results will be announced around Nov 19.

Internationally, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture in particular, has been officially recognized and is widely practiced in countries like Japan, the United States, Germany and Republic of Korea (ROK), experts said.

Countries like ROK, Japan and France used to claim they were the cradle of acupuncture, according to Huang.

Li Zhigang, deputy director of the acupuncture school of Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, told China Daily that ROK had tried to file an application for acupuncture to UNESCO.

"If they had made it before China and succeeded, people in other parts of the world might think it was South Korea that created acupuncture," he said.

Currently, China has about 600,000 licensed doctors in traditional Chinese medicine and almost all are trained in acupuncture, official statistics show.

In Beijing, a single session of acupuncture therapy costs 4 yuan ($0.59), a price set 20 years ago.

"That hurts the enthusiasm of practitioners and many acupuncture students at my school change occupation after graduation," Li said.

By contrast, the situation for Peking Opera is luckier, with relatively more support at home.

"Regarded as the essence of Chinese traditional culture, Peking Opera is already our intangible cultural heritage. Inclusion in the UNESCO list will definitely help its international promotion," said Wu Zuolai, a scholar with Chinese National Academy of Arts.

But it is more imperative to include many other cultural forms, especially those related to the ethnic groups in China's remote areas, on the list for the sake of preservation, he noted.

Lin Shujuan contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/12/2010 page7)

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