China, India file bids for Tibetan medicine in UNESCO heritage list

Updated 2017-04-13 09:00:58 Global Times

China and India filed competing bids for Tibetan medicine to be included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, with Chinese experts saying "Tibetan-in-exile" communities in India will not give India an edge.

A senior official from the Indian Union Ministry of Culture was quoted by Indian Express as saying that "India had been preparing the nomination dossier for the Tibetan medicine system of Sowa-Rigpa for many years, and we have submitted it to UNESCO for consideration."

India submitted the application in March, said the report.

China considers Tibet an inseparable part and a "core interest." It also repeatedly criticized India for inviting the 14th Dalai Lama, who China considers a separatist, to "Arunachal Pradesh," which China calls South Tibet.

"The Tibetan medicine system originated in Tibet and has developed on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in northwest and southwest China," Qin Yongzhang, an ethnologist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Qin said that the "Tibetan-in-exile" communities in India may help practice and spread the Sowa-Rigpa in India and may say that the medicine system has been inherited and developed well in India to help it win the bid.

India nominated Sowa-Rigpa to enhance its soft power, gain confidence and benefit financially, said Qin, adding, "the truth is that Tibetan medicine not only originated but has developed in China."

Qin noted that thousands of types of Tibetan medicine are from China's Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces and Tibetan medicine hospitals are spread across China, with considerable medicine literature published in recent years.

China has accelerated the development of Tibetan medicine and pharmacology. The State Council listed Tibetan medicine system in the first batch of China Intangible Cultural Heritage in May 2006.

UNESCO will consider both countries' bids at the organization's session in 2018.

"In 2007, the output value of Tibetan medicines reached 660 million yuan ( million), with sales of 450 million yuan," read an official publication from the Information Office of the State Council in September 2008.

Some Tibetan medicine is sold in other Chinese regions and even abroad," it added.

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