The Nanfang / Blog

Alibaba Kicks Off High-Tech Hospital Reform in Guangzhou

Posted: 06/17/2014 2:06 pm

payment hosptial E-commerce giant Alibaba seeks to make massive improvements to China’s antiquated hospital system by reducing wait times for patients through the use of online payments and sharing of patient data.

Alibaba has initiated a pilot program called “Future Hospital” at the Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center, the first such place in China that allows patients to pay for medical services through online accounts, reports China Daily.

By paying fees with a smartphone, Alibaba claims the length of an entire procedure can be reduced from five hours at peak times to one. On its first day of implementation, 580 people used the service at Future Hospital.

However, this is just the beginning of Alibaba’s ambition to reform hospital service in China as the e-commerce giant hopes to “use Alipay’s payment, user data, and big data capabilities to build a comprehensive mobile medical care and health management platform,” reports Tech President.

Technode outlines Alibaba’s huge ambitions:

Zhang Jiangang, an exec at Alifinance, mentioned that in the next 5-10 years, in order to implement phase two of the said plan, Alipay will establish a comprehensive online platform to allow virtually mobile prescription, medicine delivery, hospital transfer, medical care insurance reimbursement, commercial insurance as well as damage claims, as part of the improvement of healthcare reform in China…
“This is a long term plan to realize the shift from cure to prevention,” Zhang said.

Alibaba-owned Taobao had previously attempted to offer a free hospital appointment-booking service in several Chinese provinces only to be blocked in Beijing, where a competing service is offered by the Beijing Health Department.

Alibaba recently purchased a 50% share in the Guangzhou Evergrande football team, the other of Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s projects:

“We’re not investing in football, we’re investing in entertainment. Alibaba’s future strategies are health and entertainment.”

Photo: Gansu Daily


Guangdong looks at copying Hong Kong’s weather alert system for rain storms

Posted: 04/3/2014 11:10 am

The heavy rain has many people of Guangdong thinking of the future. For some this means wondering when the rain will finally end (the forecast says tomorrow, April 4), but for others this means protecting their future investments from sustaining any harm: children that continue to go to school in the pouring rain.

While parents will often worry about the future even on a clear day, the ominous facts speak for themselves. The total number of missing and dead attributed to the recent rainstorm has now risen to 31, reported ChinaNews.

Parents have gone online to complain about needing to wait until a code red weather alert until classes can be officially suspended, and has been a hotly-discussed topic.

Guangdong Sina reports that government officials from the Provincial Emergencies Department, Provincial Weather Office and the Provincial Education Department are now considering the establishment of a high-level weather warning system that will automatically close schools upon reaching a certain level.

This system is tentatively scheduled to be implemented at the end of this year. An anonymous representive of the weather office revealed to Sina that the new system will closely mirror that already established in Hong Kong. Over in the SAR, there are clear levels of alerts from the Hong Kong Observatory: Amber Rainstorm, Red Rainstorm, and Black Rainstorm, which closes schools and businesses. Citizens are notified in advance so they have time to get home and out of the storm.

The current system has been criticized as unwieldy. Says Principal Liu of Yahetang Elementary school in Yuexiu District:

“We wait for the district educational office to be notified, which in turn waits for notification from the city, while the city educational office makes its decision based upon the weather warning system. All these different levels just delay the process; when we finally notify parents on their cell phones, we’ve already missed the most opportune time to tell them.”

Hong Kong is a place with many standards and systems, so we’ll wait to see what else is adopted from that place across the border. As such, faster escalators may be in store for Guangdong province.

Photo: Sina


Guangdong’s Wang Yang: A kinder, gentler communist?

Posted: 09/18/2012 3:08 pm

Identified as one of the more liberal leaning hopefuls for a spot in China’s elite Politburo Standing Committee, Wang Yang has been a strong proponent of political and economic reform in Guangdong Province since his rise to Party Chief in 2007. Earlier this year, he took his “Guangdong Model” to Beijing seeking to reduce China’s bureaucratic red tape and over-regulation. Standing before the National People’s Congress in March, Wang argued that: “To solve the problem of vested interest groups holding up reform, we must first perform surgery on the party and the government.” Somewhat surprisingly, Beijing not only listened, they chose Wang, nicknamed the “Young Marshal”, and Guangdong Province to pilot a three-year program attacking China’s red tape.

Yet according to a story in the South China Morning Post, while Wang may be ahead of his time, reformists shouldn’t get their hopes up. Although Wang has stressed the need for government transparency, less polluting factories, and has met with high profile Western leaders, he remains betrothed to the Party. According to City University Political Science Professor Dr. Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, just because Wang is willing to test the water, doesn’t mean he’s prepared to challenge the central leadership: “Wang is a trusted ally of Hu and his policy programme closely follows Hu’s vision. He’s a reformist, certainly, but there are serious constraints.”

Of the aforementioned constraints, arguably the most significant has been Wang’s aggressive approach toward the press. In June an editor at The Southern Metropolis News was suspended for posting commentary critical of the government. Soon after, the Deputy Director of the Guangdong Propaganda Department, Yang Jian, was placed as Party Secretary of the Nanfang Media Group. Finally, Chen Zhong, Chief Editor of liberal leaning Nanfeng Chuang, was replaced by yet another Propaganda Department loyalist. Guangdong has long enjoyed a freedom of the press largely absent in much of China, and the recent crackdown under Wang’s watch is certainly cause for concern.

Although Wang has no doubt encouraged public participation in the political process, be it an acceptance of non-governmental organizations (Guangdong’s NGO’s are given greater autonomy than anywhere else in the country), or his ability to handle high profile events such as last year’s Wukan Village crisis, he remains a party loyalist. And while Wang may be willing to encourage greater political and social latitude, such latitude will only be permitted provided it’s in the interests of the Party.


China flirts with political reform with Hengqin Island project

Posted: 08/8/2011 11:17 am

Hengqin Island

Shenzhen is where China’s market reforms began, and the PRD also looks to be where the Central Government is flirting with political reform.

We previously reported that plans to develop the Qianhai area in Shenzhen into a special zone that would potentially feature a Hong Kong-style independent judiciary and enhanced freedoms have been shelved, but a second plan in neighbouring Zhuhai has been given the go-ahead.

Hengqin Island is a 106-square-kilometre island that sits right next to Macao. Last year, the State Council named it the country’s third new strategic zone, after Pudong in Shanghai and Binhai in Tianjin. But Hengqin is even more daring, as it will feature a changed legal system on parts of the island and zero duties and tariffs on imported goods, as long as they are not sent elsewhere in the Mainland. In some cases, people traveling from Macao to Hengqin will also be exempt from customs formalities.

Not much is happening on the island at the moment, but that could change soon, according to this report from Macao which cites the South China Morning Post:

The blueprint announced by the Zhuhai authorities includes a massive gas terminal and gas-engine generator projects and a huge ocean-themed entertainment centre.

Most controversially it will include a branch of the Macau University.

A Zhuhai official said students and staff would be able to access the university through a special tunnel without needing to go through immigration checkpoints.

“Because the new campus will be operated according to Macau laws, both the university and we expect to make it a self-contained area that is separated from other parts of the island,” Niu Jing, deputy director of Hengqin’s administrative committee, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

It remains unclear if Macau police would have access to the campus on Chinese territory.

Zhuhai authorities say they want to see the island generate 56 billion yuan (US$8bn, £4.9bn) in annual GDP by 2020.

Currently the island of 106 square km is described as bleak, largely empty, generating just 128 million last year.

The population is expected to increase to 120,000 by 2015 and 280,000 by 2020.

Having the university and the land upon which it sits governed by Macao law is precedent-setting for the Mainland. A similar plan in Shenzhen, in which part of the city would be governed by Hong Kong laws, was shelved after Shenzhen officials got cold feet.

This development is interesting on a number of levels. First, it is an indication that the Central Government is indeed looking at ways of introducing political and legal reforms. As is their wont, the cadres in Zhongnanhai will go slow and ensure they don’t lose control of the process. Finding an isolated piece of land, like Hengqin Island, and going slow with the process likely makes them feel a bit more comfortable.

Secondly, on my own humble observation, it seems working with Macao is safer than having Hong Kong run a similar project in Shenzhen. Unlike the Hong Kong SAR, Macao quickly embraced the motherland upon its return in 1999. It has a much more cooperative government and less politically active population. Macao has traditionally worked well with the Central Government, while Hong Kong is much more adversarial, making Macao a safer choice.

The tax policies on Hengqin will also go much farther than in the other two strategic zones, according to China Briefing:

Overseas goods shipped to the island – except for consumer products for day-to-day life, goods for commercial property development projects, and other goods that cannot enjoy free duties according to related regulations – will enjoy import duty exemption, but will still be subject to tariffs if they are destined for other parts of Mainland China. However, duty-free entry of goods does not mean boundaryless entry of people. Visitors from Hong Kong, Macau and foreign countries will still have to complete customs formalities, related reports emphasize.

In addition to import duty exemption, commodity trading among enterprises based on Hengqin Island is also exempt from value-added tax and consumption tax payment. It is even hoped that some eligible local enterprises will be allowed to pay corporate income tax at a lower rate of 15 percent.

Compared to most of China’s bonded areas, where a similar customs system and tax policies are practiced, Hengqin is going to be more consumer-friendly. While regular bonded areas are usually set up for manufacturers, Hengqin will allow the construction of commercial living and consuming facilities and develop commercial retail businesses. There will be shopping malls built up where people can spend their money, said Fang Zhou, assistant chief research officer of the Hong Kong-based One Country Two Systems Research Institute.

We do not want to overstate the importance of Hengqin to China’s development, as this remains a plan on an isolated island far in the south of China. Like many plans and ideas in China, it may not come to fruition. But the fact that this project has been given approval by the Central Government and includes small but radical changes to taxation and laws could be a harbinger for things to come… if it’s successful.

Keep in Touch

What's happening this week in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou? Sign up to be notified when we launch the This Week @ Nanfang newsletter.

sign up for our newsletter

Nanfang TV