Friday, 26 December 2008


Report: China plans to issue new medical reform plan in January

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- China's long-awaited medical
reform plan, which aims at providing universal medical
service to 1.3 billion people, is likely to be issued in
January, Friday's 21st Century Business Herald reported.

Five supplementary plans on medical insurance, basic
medicine, grassroots medical service, public health service
and public hospital reform will be issued at the same time,
the newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Growing public criticism of soaring medical fees, a lack of
access to affordable medical services, poor doctor-patient
relationship and low medical insurance coverage compelled
the government to launch the new round of reforms.

On Oct. 14, the National Development and Reform Commission
(NDRC) issued a draft plan on its website for public
debate. The commission received more than 35,000
suggestions in one month.

A health official told Xinhua that the announcement of the
new plan in January is "likely". "A revised version based
on the public feedbacks has been submitted to the State
Council," said the official, who declined to be named.

According to the newspaper, "the new version didn't have
significant difference from the old one."

In the draft, the government promised to set up a "safe,
effective, convenient and affordable" medical system that
would cover all urban and rural residents by 2020.

It clarifies government's responsibility by saying that it
plays a dominant role in providing public health and basic
medical service. Central and local governments are required
to increase health funding to ease financial burden of

The draft, written by a team of officials and experts from
16 departments, including the Ministry of Health and the
NDRC, has been criticized as being "too general" and "full
of empty principles".

The five new supplementary plans are believed to outline
specific measures. Among them, the one on the building of a
basic medicine system and reforms of state-run hospitals
are the most important, the newspaper quoted the source as

The basic medicine system includes a catalogue of necessary
drugs that would be produced and distributed under
government control and supervision, according to the draft

The draft plan did not outline clear measures for state-run
hospital reform. But it said government should increase
funding to public hospitals to improve their services.

Insufficient government funding resulted in deficits for
public health institutions, thus opening doors for
hospitals to generate their own revenue by raising fees and
aggressively selling drugs.

"Reform of state-run hospitals is a very complicated and
difficult project," Bai Chong'en, a professor with the
Tsinghua University, said.

"I think the government should pilot the reform in some
places and then work out a reform plan based on China's
realities," he said. Editor: Wang Hongjiang

Friday, 12 December 2008


Up to Sarkozy to get ties back on track

By Zhang Haizhou
(China Daily)

It is up to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to put
Sino-French relations back on track, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.

France holds the rotating presidency of the European Union
(EU) till the end of this year. And since Sarkozy is the
president of that country, his decision to meet with the
Dalai Lama in Poland on Saturday forced China to defer the
China-EU meeting, scheduled for Monday.

"The French president, who ignored China's concern, should
be fully responsible (for the downturn in bilateral
relations)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a
regular briefing.

"This is the time for France to make an important decision
and we hope it will create conditions for advancing China's
relations with the EU and France," he said.

No likely date has been chosen for the meeting, and Liu
said it can only be held "in a proper atmosphere", for
which France must take "pressing measures".

Despite China's opposition, Sarkozy will go ahead with his
meeting with the Dalai Lama, said Feng Zhongping, director
of European studies at the China Institute of Contemporary
International Relations.

Sarkozy had angered Chinese earlier, too, by hinting that
he might not attend the Beijing Olympic Games Opening
Ceremony over the Tibet policy.

"Sino-French relations are likely to sour further," Feng
said. The 11th China-EU meeting, an annual event, could
eventually be cancelled because there are just four more
weeks left in the year, during which it would be hard to
find a date for the meeting.

The 12th China-EU meeting has already been allotted to the
Czech Republic, which takes over the EU presidency next

China's decision to defer the meeting was taken "after
thoughtful deliberation", Feng said. There could have been
a chain effect had it not done so because some other
European leaders, too, want to meet with the Dalai Lama.

"Pulling out of the meeting is sending a message to other
countries to respect China's core interests," Feng said.

Deteriorating Sino-French ties are bothering Europeans in

The EU Chamber of Commerce in China said it was
"disappointed that in time of global financial turmoil and
a significant economic slowdown the Chinese leadership
decided to postpone the EU-China meeting".

Wu Baiyi, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences, suggested France should first focus on how to get
out of the financial turmoil.

"They (China and France) should first clarify what they
want to do." But, Wu said, Sarkozy's decision to meet the
Dalai Lama is an example of being "irresponsible to his own


Chinese President Warns Nation Losing Its Economic Edge

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao warned that China has
started to lose its competitive edge in trade amid the
global financial crisis, as he told Communist Party leaders
the challenge posed a test to the government's ability to
rule, state media reported.

China's economic growth is expected to fall to about 9
percent this year, down from last year's 11.9 percent. That
would be the fastest of any major economy, but Chinese
leaders worry about possible unrest as unemployment rises,
especially in export industries where factories are
shutting down as global demand plummets.

"External demand has obviously weakened and China's
traditional competitive advantage is being gradually
weakened," Hu said, according to the Communist Party's
official People's Daily newspaper.

Hu told members of the Communist Party's powerful Political
Bureau that the financial meltdown posed critical
challenges to a government that has staked its legitimacy
in part on competent management of a rapidly developing

"Whether the pressures can be turned into a driving force
and the challenges turned to opportunities ... is a test of
our ability to control a complex situation, and also a test
of our party's governing ability," Hu said.

Hu urged party leaders to step up efforts to reform its
economic growth model to achieve development that is

He said greater effort should be made to raise living
standards, use resources more efficiently and develop rural
and urban areas, the report said.

The remarks come after China's top economic planner Zhang
Ping, chairman of the Cabinet's National Development and
Reform Commission, warned Thursday that the impact of the
global financial crisis is worsening and that rising job
losses could fuel instability.

But a government researcher said that despite the impact of
the global slowdown, the country's economy is expected to
grow by 10 percent next year as domestic consumption grows
with rising personal incomes.

"Personal income continues to increase as millions of
migrant workers flow into the city to get their lives
improved. Enlarging demand for houses and autos will form
huge and lasting consuming power," said Zhang Liqun, a
researcher at a think tank attached to the Cabinet's
planning agency.

On Wednesday, Beijing announced its biggest interest rate
cut in 11 years to increase consumer and company spending.
A multibillion-dollar stimulus package launched on Nov. 9
aims to boost growth through heavy new spending on
construction, tax cuts and aid to the poor and farmers.

Beijing plans to spend 18 trillion yuan ($2.6 trillion) in
2009 alone to help blunt the impact of the global financial
crisis, using the immense capital accumulated over years of
double-digit economic growth and booming exports to build
railways, roads, airports and electricity networks.