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April , 2019
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(From New America Media)

By Aruna Lee and Summer Chiang

State Sen. Leland Yee, who earlier this year stirred up controversy with his opposition to a ban on the sale of shark fin, is now embroiled in a similar debate over a bill that would put the word “Chinese” in the name of the state’s acupuncture licensing agency.

Senate Bill 628, which Yee introduced in February, would change the name of the California Acupuncture Board to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Board and would include practitioners who work in traumatology, the treatment of injuries. Chinese medicine practitioners welcomed the bill’s expansion of licensing to fields beyond acupuncture. But the proposal was met with strong opposition from members of the state’s Korean community, who say the name change ignores the fact that many Koreans continue to practice a similar form of medicine.

Yee is running for mayor in San Francisco, a city that is roughly one-fifth Chinese. He lacks the support of influential Chinatown leader Rose Pak, who helped engineer the appointment of interim Mayor Ed Lee and has been trying to persuade Lee to run in November. Yee’s decision in February to side with the Chinese community over environmentalists in opposing a ban on the sale of shark fin drew considerable controversy.

The acupuncture proposal appears to be winning Yee favor among Chinese-Americans. Three hundred supporters, mainly from the Bay Area, attended a hearing in Sacramento Monday when the bill was being discussed. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the American Traditional Chinese Medical Traumatology Association hosted a news conference in San Francisco’s Chinatown in support of the legislation.

The measure has already cleared the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. If it passes, California will become the first state to license practitioners of traditional medical traumatology, according to the World Journal.

Ho Ying Heng, president of the American Traditional Chinese Medical Traumatology Association, told the World Journal that Leland Yee had visited China three times to learn more about Chinese traumatology. If the bill passes, he said, it will mean a lot to the Chinese community and the traumatology industry.

Iun Kang Cen, executive secretary of the American Traditional Chinese Medical Traumatology Association, added that the bill would give patients more protection, since the practice of traditional Chinese traumatology would be monitored by a government agency.

But an article in the Korea Times notes that another part of the bill — which would rename “acupuncturists” licensed by the board “Chinese medicine practitioners” — has generated controversy among Korean traditional medicine practitioners.

Soon after Yee’s proposal was announced, the Korea Times reports, the Association of Korean Asian Medicine and Acupuncture of California gathered more than 3,000 signatures statewide to oppose the name change. During a meeting with Yee in early March, the group urged him to back away from the new name, describing it as “offensive” to Korean and other Asian communities.

In-soon Lee, the head of the association’s Northern California branch, runs a private clinic in San Jose that administers traditional Korean medicine to patients. She said there are “over 50 members” in Northern California, all of whom run similar clinics. “They all participated in the petition opposing the name change,” Lee said.

For his part, Yee explained that the existing title of the board does not do justice to the range of treatment administered by licensed practitioners, including herbal remedies, massage therapy and dietary recommendations. Yee called on fellow Chinese-Americans to support the bill “to protect our culture.”

Yee has since backed away from the name-change issue, telling those gathered at the hearing Monday that he would reconsider whether or not to change the name.

But some in the Korean community remain skeptical.

In-soon Lee told the Korea Times that while she welcomed Yee’s decision to reconsider the change, she suspects it has more to do with his mayoral ambitions in San Francisco than with her group’s concerns.

“If he makes a similar proposal in the future, we will be there to oppose it,” she said.

State Sen. Leland Yee, who earlier this year stirred up controversy with his opposition to a ban on the sale of shark fin, is now embroiled in a similar debate over a bill that would put the word “Chinese” in the name of the state’s acupuncture licensing agency.

Senate Bill 628, which Yee introduced in February, would change the name of the California Acupuncture Board to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Board and would include practitioners who work in traumatology, the treatment of injuries. Chinese medicine practitioners welcomed the bill’s expansion of licensing to fields beyond acupuncture. But the proposal was met with strong opposition from members of the state’s Korean community, who say the name change ignores the fact that many Koreans continue to practice a similar form of medicine.

Yee is running for mayor in San Francisco, a city that is roughly one-fifth Chinese. He lacks the support of influential Chinatown leader Rose Pak, who helped engineer the appointment of interim Mayor Ed Lee and has been trying to persuade Lee to run in November. Yee’s decision in February to side with the Chinese community over environmentalists in opposing a ban on the sale of shark fin drew considerable controversy.

The acupuncture proposal appears to be winning Yee favor among Chinese-Americans. Three hundred supporters, mainly from the Bay Area, attended a hearing in Sacramento Monday when the bill was being discussed. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the American Traditional Chinese Medical Traumatology Association hosted a news conference in San Francisco’s Chinatown in support of the legislation.

The measure has already cleared the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. If it passes, California will become the first state to license practitioners of traditional medical traumatology, according to the World Journal.

Ho Ying Heng, president of the American Traditional Chinese Medical Traumatology Association, told the World Journal that Leland Yee had visited China three times to learn more about Chinese traumatology. If the bill passes, he said, it will mean a lot to the Chinese community and the traumatology industry.

Iun Kang Cen, executive secretary of the American Traditional Chinese Medical Traumatology Association, added that the bill would give patients more protection, since the practice of traditional Chinese traumatology would be monitored by a government agency.

But an article in the Korea Times notes that another part of the bill — which would rename “acupuncturists” licensed by the board “Chinese medicine practitioners” — has generated controversy among Korean traditional medicine practitioners.

Soon after Yee’s proposal was announced, the Korea Times reports, the Association of Korean Asian Medicine and Acupuncture of California gathered more than 3,000 signatures statewide to oppose the name change. During a meeting with Yee in early March, the group urged him to back away from the new name, describing it as “offensive” to Korean and other Asian communities.

In-soon Lee, the head of the association’s Northern California branch, runs a private clinic in San Jose that administers traditional Korean medicine to patients. She said there are “over 50 members” in Northern California, all of whom run similar clinics. “They all participated in the petition opposing the name change,” Lee said.

For his part, Yee explained that the existing title of the board does not do justice to the range of treatment administered by licensed practitioners, including herbal remedies, massage therapy and dietary recommendations. Yee called on fellow Chinese-Americans to support the bill “to protect our culture.”

Yee has since backed away from the name-change issue, telling those gathered at the hearing Monday that he would reconsider whether or not to change the name.

But some in the Korean community remain skeptical.

In-soon Lee told the Korea Times that while she welcomed Yee’s decision to reconsider the change, she suspects it has more to do with his mayoral ambitions in San Francisco than with her group’s concerns.

“If he makes a similar proposal in the future, we will be there to oppose it,” she said.

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