Modified and translated by CFJA
In 1822, at the end of the Edo period, the Qing dynasty issued an imperial decree saying that “Acumoxa holds a prolonged history, however, inserting a needle or burning a moxa on one’s body are unfavourable to practice on the emperor. Therefore, the department of acumoxa in Taii’in 太医院 (hospital in the Qing dynasty) shall be closed forever (鍼灸の一法、由來已に久し、然れども鍼を以って刺し火もて灸するは、究む所奉君の宜しき所にあらず、太医院鍼灸の一科は、永遠に停止と著す).” In other words, the imperial decree that prohibited acupuncture and moxibustion to be practiced on the emperor’s body led to the abolition of the department of acumoxa in Taii’in 太医院. This was due to a medical error caused by the emperor’s attendant doctor when treating the emperor’s son (It is difficult to find out what happened from the literature, but given the background of the emperor’s rage, it probably led to the death of his son). As acupuncture was forbidden to be given to the emperor and it was also forbidden to be practiced even amongst civilians. Since then, acupuncture has been in decline, and at the same time, Chinese medicine, including herbal medicine, has generally declined. The study of acumoxa ceased in China, and it became difficult to hand down the technique as a medicine. It was in a state of destruction in China during the early days of the Republic of China (1912-1949). Around 1820, the Qing dynasty was at the height of its power and prosperity, but it was also profiting enormously from the export of opium, a drug grown in the British colony of India, to the Qing Empire. The abundance of opium in China and the British defeating China in the Opium War weakened China, and probably contributed to the decline of traditional Chinese medicine.
The government of the Republic of China (ROC), established in 1912, did not recognize acupuncture and herbs as national medicine. Traditional medicine in China had been based on the Yin-Yang and the Five Elements theory for diagnosis. It can be assumed that the new Chinese government of ROC had difficulty in recognizing the medical system from ancient times to the Qing dynasty as medicine because, for nearly 100 years, Western medicine had been the mainstream. This was the same even after the People’s Republic of China (PRC, a one-party state in East Asia governed by the Chinese Communist Party, CCP) was established in 1949.
In China, after 1868 (when Japan entered the Meiji period), many Japanese books were translated, and many Chinese went to Japan to study for the purpose of reviving traditional Chinese medicine. It is thought that this was due to the acceptance of the ideas and research results of the Japanese medical scholars who had been attempting to integrate modern western medicine with eastern medicine since the 1800s (the Edo period). In addition, the victory of Japan in the first Sino-Japanese War may have led the Chinese to believe that Japan had more advanced technology than the Qing. In 1954, traditional medicine in China was recognized as a national medicine for the first time in 132 years. There is another side to this story. The ROC, which had moved to Taiwan, was recognized as a Chinese state by the United Nations after 1949 while the PRC was not recognized as a state. As a way of gaining recognition, they needed to show that they were carrying on the Chinese tradition. One of the four policies they developed was traditional Chinese medicine. This led the United Nations to recognize that herbs and acupuncture were traditional medicine in China – they succeeded in changing their position completely.