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Cablegate: Taiwan Promotes Medical Tourism Overseas

VZCZCXRO7627
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHIN #1634 2002331
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192331Z JUL 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6084
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS TAIPEI 001634

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/ TC, EAP/EP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PREL CH TW

SUBJECT: TAIWAN PROMOTES MEDICAL TOURISM OVERSEAS

1. (U) Summary. Taiwan has announced plans to allow entry of
mainland Chinese for medical treatment, beginning August 1, 2007.
Starting in 2002, Taiwan has permitted a limited number of mainland
Chinese to visit the island each year, traveling to Taiwan via a
transit location such as Hong Kong. Over the past several years,
tourism industry representative bodies from the two sides of the
Taiwan Strait have been working to finalize an agreement to
liberalize tourist travel between China and Taiwan, so far without
success. The medical treatment measure would both circumvent the
apparently stalemated tourism talks and be a money-maker for
Taiwan's world-class medical industry. Estimates are the ambitious
plan could attract as many as 100,000 customers, generate NTD 7
billion (USD 230 million) in 3 years, and create 3,500 jobs in
Taiwan. End Summary.

NEW PREMIER ANNOUNCES MEDICAL TOURISM INITIATIVE

2. (U) On July 11, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung announced a plan to
promote Taiwan's medical services to mainland Chinese. The initial
goal of the new program, formally called the 'medical service
internationalization flagship program,' is to attract 100,000
customers, generate NTD 7 billion in business in 3 years and create
3,500 jobs in Taiwan. In order to have the program in place by
August 1, 2007, Premier Chang directed that regulations and
guidelines for visa applications, hospital admissions, and entry of
mainland Chinese to Taiwan be completed by the end of July.

TREATMENT TO BE OFFERED IN FIVE MEDICAL SPECIALTIES

3. (U) The medical tourism program, which will be under the
auspices of Taiwan's Department of Health (DOH), will emphasize
Taiwan's five strongest medical specialties: liver transplants,
facial surgery, heart surgery, artificial insemination and joint
replacement surgery. The program is designed to attract mainland
Chinese, in particular, but will also encompass overseas Taiwanese
(including those who may be citizens of other countries such as the
U.S.). DOH will try to work through mainland hospitals to introduce
Taiwan's medical tourism program to mainland Chinese.

SPECIAL APPROVAL FOR QUALIFIED PRC PATIENTS

4. (U) Taiwan now permits mainland Chinese to visit Taiwan for
commercial activities, professional exchanges and limited tourism.
The medical tourism program, however, will require Taiwan's Mainland
Affairs Council (MAC) to expand the entry of mainland Chinese into
Taiwan for the five medical treatments listed in paragraph 3. This
plan will avoid the need to revise Taiwan's 'Act Governing Relations
between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area,' which
would require approval by the Legislative Yuan and would likely
delay implementation of the program. In order to gain entry under
the program, a mainland Chinese patient would first apply for
admission to any of the Taiwan hospitals already screened and found
qualified by DOH. After a hospital accepts a patient, it would
submit the patient's application for an entry permit to the Bureau
of Immigration. At that time, the Bureau of Immigration would
inform DOH and MAC of the application. DOH would evaluate the
medical necessity of the case and MAC would assess possible
political sensitivity, for example if the applicant is a high
ranking mainland official. Based on advice from DOH and MAC, the
Bureau of Immigration would then make a final decision whether to
approve the entry permit. Entry permits will initially be for
two-month duration, with a possible extension up to four-months
based on treatment needs.

COMMENT

5. (SBU) Implementation of the medical tourism program by the
announced start-up date of August 1 would require an unprecedented
level of inter-agency cooperation to resolve a host of issues from
issuance of visas to payment of hospital bills. Although MAC has
told us it is fully committed to increasing the number of
mainlanders coming to Taiwan for medical treatment, since 2000 only
6 mainland Chinese have been given special approval to enter for
medical treatment. With cross-Strait tourism talks stalled, Taiwan
businesses and many officials are calling for measures to enhance
Taiwan's tourism competitiveness and increase economic growth.
However, it is unlikely that the "medical service
internationalization flagship program" will result in significant
expansion of cross-Strait tourism in the near future.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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