The market for Chinese medicines in Hong Kong is expected to undergo a major shake-up after the launch yesterday of a new product-registration system. The system requires all manufacturers of Chinese medicines to provide clinical proof of their claims to cure ailments, and state the levels of toxins, pesticide residues and microbes contained in their products. Industry leaders predicted the regulations would lead to much-needed consolidation in the market which could improve product quality - and with that, exports - and see less competitive producers cease trading. Under the Chinese Medicine Ordinance passed in July 1999, no person shall sell, import or possess any proprietary Chinese medicine in Hong Kong unless it is registered. The registration system which came into effect yesterday sets a deadline of June 30 next year for submission of applications to the Chinese Medicines Board. In addition to providing the results of laboratory tests, applicants must also prove products do not contain parts of endangered species or are mixed with western medicines. Registered products will be assigned a number that will be shown on their packaging. About 5,000 products that were being made or sold before March 1, 1999, will qualify for transitional registration. Applications will be required to register another 5,000 to 7,000 products which have gone on sale since then. Once those applications have been processed, in about two years' time, it will be illegal to import, sell or possess unregistered products. Lam Ping-yan, director of health and chairman of the board, said random checks would be conducted to ensure compliance with the law. Eu Yan Sang Hong Kong, which has been in business in Hong Kong for more than a century, and sells dozens of Chinese medicines under its brand name worldwide, said it would file an application as early as possible. Managing director Alice Wong Suet-ying said the new system would bring 'healthy development' to the industry, even though it would inevitably reduce the range of products available to consumers.