Beijing may punish people who discredit Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) according to a new draft regulation proposed on Friday, Shanghai-based state-controlled news site Sixth Tone reported on Tuesday.
Drafted by several local government departments – including the Beijing Municipal Health Commission and Beijing Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine –the proposed regulation allegedly discourages organizations from defaming or slandering TCM.
An umbrella term for a myriad of natural health treatments – including acupuncture, meditation, and herbal teas – TCM has been co-opted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in recent years to promote a profitable pseudoscience-based medical industry for China that generates vast sums of money for the Communist Party. Recent reports indicate that the CCP expects its brand of TCM to grow into a $430 billion industry by the end of 2020.
Under the new draft regulation, smearing TCM will be categorized as “picking quarrels, provoking trouble, and disrupting public order,” a catchall phrase the CCP authorities have used to arrest political dissidents in the past. Possible repercussions for discrediting TCM could include criminal punishment, although the draft proposal did not explicitly state what specific behaviors might be considered as defaming TCM.
TCM has faced increasing public criticism in recent months over concerns about its efficacy and safety. In eastern Jiangxi province last July, a children’s hospital halted one of its TCM treatments, known as sanfutie, after dozens of children reported negative side effects such as itchiness, blisters, and burns. Despite reports of its ineffectiveness, Chinese authorities continue to promote TCM therapies.
Throughout the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the CCP has pushed TCM remedies as part of its official treatment guidelines for the virus.