A State Council policy paper suggesting a relaxation of restrictions on foreign ownership in China’s health care services sector signifies increased opportunities for foreign hospital operators on the mainland, the South China Morning Post reported. Previously, wholly foreign-owned hospitals were banned, and foreign medical service providers were restricted to joint ventures in which they could own a maximum share of 70%. The new policy paper suggests that wholly foreign-owned hospitals be allowed to operate in designated pilot cities, that joint venture approval authority be devolved to the local level, and that minimum investment requirements be lowered. "This announcement will spur us on to open more hospitals and develop rapidly," said Roberta Lipson, chairwoman of the Board of United Family Hospitals (owned by Chindex International; CHDX.NASDAQ). United Family recently signed a contract to operate the foreign/premium wing of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai, and said it is planning to raise more capital for entry into first- and second-tier cities.
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