UK health team to take pulse of China business

Updated: 2014-01-11 02:32

By Zhang Chunyan in London (China Daily)

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A high-level trade delegation from Britain will visit China starting on Monday to promote its strengths in healthcare and seek more business opportunities.

Cabinet Minister and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy, Kenneth Clarke, will pay a week-long visit to Beijing, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin,

He’ll be accompanied by representatives of institutions and businesses in the medical field, he told reporters in London on Thursday.

The delegation will meet high-level officials of China’s health sector in Beijing before moving on to the provincial level. "We’ll sign some memorandums of understanding," he added.

The delegation includes people from institutions, royal colleges, hospitals and companies. "All of them are hoping to sell their expertise and services to authorities in China," said Clarke.

Some of the companies focus on elderly care and the digital health business such as ICNet Plc, which provides healthcare software.

Because China is developing a modern medical system, Clarke said, hospitals and companies in the health sector in the UK, which has one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, are looking for opportunities.

"I have been to China a few times every year," said Clarke, who was the UK secretary of state for health from 1988 to 1990. He said that he has "good contacts" in China in the industry.

"It is an obvious mutual interest. The British wish to develop trade and investment in China, while the Chinese wish to improve their healthcare system and extend the quality they offer to the general population," he explained.

Individual hospitals in the UK are also looking to internationalize as they seek alternative revenue sources amid cuts in government funding.

The King’s Fund, a think tank in London, predicts National Health Service funding for the 2014-15 financial year (starting in April) will experience a shortfall of 35 billion pounds ($53 billion).

Deng Yajun contributed to this story.