News roundup: A boost for family doctors

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Top China news for January 25, 2017. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

Government earmarks $1.84 billion to train family doctors

China has only 170,000 registered general practitioners (GPs). The concept of a family doctor is unfamiliar to most Chinese people, who visit a hospital or clinic for all their medical needs. This exacerbates the strain on the country’s already overburdened healthcare system. Another problem caused by a lack of family doctors is that many people do not receive any advice on preventative medicine and fail to take action about early warning signs.

Caixin reports that the central government has announced a new policy to change this, allocating 12.6 billion yuan ($1.84 billion) to train GPs, with the aim of increasing the number to 300,000 by 2020. The move is another small but important signal of the government’s determination to fix China’s ailing healthcare system, partly by allowing market forces to come into play. Caixin says that “the government hopes trained GPs will be able to attract more patients and earn more through consultation fees.” Raising income through consultation for hospitals and doctors themselves is also a key requirement for ending China’s long-standing problem of hospitals earning revenues through kickbacks from drug firms and from drug sales, which leads to overprescription and corrupts the healthcare system. Ameliorating the problems in China’s medical system will do more than improve Chinese citizens’ well-being — it is a huge market opportunity.

Fly direct to Hangzhou from the U.S. for as little as $493

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with United Airlines on the only nonstop flights to Hangzhou from the U.S. Purchase by February 1, travel throughout most of the year. Fares start at $493 roundtrip. Visit for details and booking.

Dongfeng-41 Missile sighting

Earlier this week, photos began spreading online apparently showing China’s new intercontinental ballistic missile, Dongfeng-41, being transported through the city of Daqing in the northern province of Heilongjiang. Speculation that the missiles were being deployed ensued. On Monday, the Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid owned by the People’s Daily but of questionable authority, published an article in its English edition saying that the “Dongfeng-41 will bring China more respect.” Based on that article, Popular Mechanics reported that “China has publicly announced the deployment of a new intercontinental ballistic missile,” which China’s foreign ministry denied Wednesday, calling it an “internet rumor” (statement in Chinese here). But the question remains: If the photos are real, why was China’s newest and most powerful nuclear-capable missile being towed around the streets of a city of 1.3 million people?

SupChina event: Live Sinica Podcast with Susan Shirk

If you’re in southern California on Monday, January 30, please join me and my Sinica co-host, Kaiser Kuo, for a live podcast interview with China scholar and former deputy assistant secretary of state Susan Shirk. The event is part of a series of Chinese New Year celebrations at the Long US-China Institute at UC Irvine: details here.

—Jeremy Goldkorn

Today on SupChina

We publish a brief guide to the history, recent news events, and attractions of Hangzhou, one of China’s most famous cities.

This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, Lucas Niewenhuis, and Jiayun Feng. More China stories worth your time are curated below, with the most important ones at the top of each section.


  • Cashless society, cached data: Security considerations for a Chinese social credit system / Citizen Lab
    The Chinese government is testing a national social credit system “that draws upon citizens’ personal data to assign unofficial credit scores.” It is partly based on data provided by private companies such as Sesame Credit, a company established by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, and government bureaus. Citizen Lab voices concerns that social credit and mobile finance access might be blocked to “penalize citizens for acts of protest.”
  • Why China keeps bailing out ailing heavy industries / SCMP
    As total debt owned by companies and households in China is estimated to amount to 250 percent of annual economic output, the country is torn between saving state-owned companies to ensure their dominance in the economy and letting free-market competition eliminate underperforming companies. China “has pledged to clear up debt and get banks to finance productive activity instead of subsidizing state companies,” but the government has ruled out allowing any state companies to go bankrupt.


  • China corruption prosecutions drop for first time in five years / Financial Times (paywall)
    Expulsion from the Party and prosecution in public court, one of the strictest forms of discipline for corruption in China’s Communist Party, was 20 percent less frequent in 2016 than in the year before, according to an annual government report. Analysts noted that this signaled a shift away from a largely anti-corruption-focused campaign and toward a more direct effort to instill political discipline ahead of the upcoming 19th Party congress this autumn.
  • Opinion: China Can Thrive in the Trump Era / NYT (paywall)
    An op-ed by Yan Xuetong, the influential Chinese scholar of foreign policy, security, and U.S China relations, repeats a point many commentators have made about Trump’s scrapping of the Trans-Pacific Partnership being an opening for China to write the rules of trade in the Asia Pacific. He also sees hostility from the Trump administration as a push to the Chinese government to end its policy of not forming military alliances, which Yan has long argued would benefit China. Finally, he argues that “an illiberal turn in the United States” could drive talented Americans and others to settle in China instead.


  • APA pledges to remove right-wing books after threat of China boycott / Xinhua
    On January 15, two guests staying at an APA chain hotel in Japan uploaded a video on Weibo showing books placed in hotel rooms that deny the Nanjing Massacre. The video went viral on Chinese social media, with many netizens demanding a boycott of the hotel chain. APA’s CEO refused to apologize and remove the books, after which the Chinese government ordered domestic travel agencies and websites to avoid the hotel chain. APA agreed Wednesday to remove the books from rooms of its hotel designated for athletes of the 8th Asian Winter Games in Sapporo. This was not enough for most Chinese online commentators: typical comments are “What about other rooms?” and “Too late. I will boycott it forever.” You can find much of the discussion (in Chinese) here.