Tracking TCM: China aims to achieve full traceability for products within five years

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

China aims to achieve full traceability for key TCM products botanical species within five years. ©Getty Images
China aims to achieve full traceability for key TCM products botanical species within five years. ©Getty Images

Related tags TCM China

China is aiming to achieve full product traceability for key traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) botanical species within five years.

The National Administration of TCM released a document detailing the suggested action plans and the ministries involved to regulate and improve the sector.

The action plans were drafted at the state council level.

Strengthening of quality control and deepening scientific research and innovation were part of the key plans.

Within five years, it hopes to establish a system where the sources and the subsequent transportation of key TCM botanical species can be traced. The purpose is to ensure a system of accountability.   

In addition, it hopes to explore a full traceability system for TCM botanicals, tablets, and TCM-based products, starting from the process of product manufacturing, to distribution, and the eventual product use.

At least eight ministries will be involved in the above action plan, including the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Administration of TCM.

To stem the sale of products containing illegal substances, more inspections will be conducted on products sold on the market.

Other action plans include the set-up of an information-sharing platform, which will store credibility reports of the TCM enterprises.

Quality control

As part of quality control, there is a greater emphasis on manufacturing standards and the need for clinical evidence.

For instance, the National Medical Products Administration is expected to put in place a set of standards for manufacturing TCM tablets.

There are also plans to improve the quality assessment method of TCM products based on clinical evidence.

To upgrade the TCM sector, there are also plans to establish a product procurement system with government hospitals. 

Research and innovation

In terms of product innovation, the authority is encouraging the innovation of TCM products for children.

In addition, there is a plan to establish multi-disciplinary research platforms to meet the country’s “strategic needs” and resolve TCM’s key scientific difficulties.

A major national laboratory is also expected to be set up, alongside a national clinical medical research centre and a technical innovation centre. 


It was earlier reported that the internationalisation and modernisation of TCM products are part of China’s 13th​ five-year-plan.

To drive its global use, TCM will be included as an “important content” ​for international cooperation under the ‘One-belt-one-road’ initiative. 

The relevant government ministries are also expected to actively take part in setting the standards for traditional medicine at the international level.

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