Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Follow the Money

By Loretta Marron

The Chinese government is behind efforts to promote Traditional Chinese Medicine despite its lack of evidence.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s recent announcement that a host of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices, lacking any evidence base for their effectiveness, will no longer receive taxpayer-funded rebates for treatment. That is good news, but at the same time Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), similarly lacking an evidence base, is being promoted and adopted widely with strong government support. You have to ask why.

In 2014, the Australian government signed an $18 billion Free Trade Agreement with China, with TCM singled out for special attention. With no definitive evidence to support claims that TCM can cure any disease or disorder, you have to ask why Australia is embracing TCM.

TCMs are among the fastest growing “health” products in Australia, where the growth of TCM has been influenced by the Chinese and Australian governments, and international agencies including the World Health Organisation (WHO), our regulators and our universities.

China is pushing TCM. It is a $40 billion industry in China, and TCM products are among the most profitable of all Chinese exports even though it has been in decline in China in recent decades, with 80% of people now relying on western medical treatment. To boost TCM a new Chinese law, promising equal status for TCM and western medicine, came into effect this year. Provisions include...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.