by Jian Ping
CHICAGO, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- China is still one of a few places that investors can expect for growth, U.S. experts said at a seminar here on Thursday.
"China is still one of the few places in the world you can go for growth," said Benjamin Shobert, managing director of Rubicon Strategy Group, when he addressed the commercial opportunities in the health care area.
The Chinese government has invested a lot in the healthcare sector and it also hopes foreign companies transfer certain technology to China's market, he told the seminar to which the Chicago Council of Global Affairs invited a group of U.S. experts to talk about risks and opportunities in China to local business leaders and community representatives in Chicago at the Blackstone Hotel.
Shobert also pointed out a number of challenges in the sector, including the recent scandal where sales representatives of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) were paying doctors to prescribe their medications and hiring intermediaries to bribe hospitals and doctors, which he said reflect deeper problems in the healthcare system in China.
"If these issues are not addressed, the problems will only be pushed underground," he told xinhua.
He also said that it is crucial for China to solve those healthcare problems ensuing its massive industrialization and a fast aging population.
He acknowledged that the Chinese government had invested a huge budget in the healthcare sector from 2009 to 2011. "The money has been used to expand the national insurance program and create additional capacity for various services," said Shobert.
He pointed out that significant results have been achieved. For instance, insurance coverage has been increased from about half of the country's population in 2009 to 99 percent now and significant progress has been made in the development of primary care system, but access to the system still remains a problem.
He praised the recent change in the Chinese government's policy that allows foreign direct investment (FDI) into hospitals and senior care areas.
"Open FDI catalog is a big step," he said, noting that this sector needs to develop faster.
China has four major edges - domestic governance, stability, endorsement to the Communist Party, and national security, said Roy D. Kamphausen, Senior Advisor at National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR).
"The fact is that China is very much inwardly focused," Kamphausen said.
All the experts expressed concerns over corruption and the ongoing anti-corruption campaign in China, but remained optimistic about China's continued development.
"I found today's talk very informative," said Cecilia Mowatt, president of Strategies In Site. "I like that the speakers look deeper into the overall context but are positive about China."