Fri, Nov 15, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Formosa Group's Wang postpones Chinese hospitals

WAITING GAME Beijing has been reluctant to grant permission for Chang Gung Memorial Hospital to enter China's medical marketplace

STAFF WRITER

Formosa Group president Wang Yung-ching (王永慶) confirmed yesterday that he was postponing a project to build three hospitals in China because of resistance from the Beijing authorities.

"They certainly welcome my project, but they need some more time for further preparation," Wang said in an interview with TVBS.

Asked what his next step will be, Wang said, "Let's see. Maybe next time. But if my plan is realized, the medical center built in China would be bigger than any in Taiwan," he said.

Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, a subsidiary of Formosa, had planned to build a medical center in Beijing and one each in Xiamen and Fuzhou with a total investment of NT$15 billion (US$440.4 million).

According to Formosa's plan, the Beijing medical center would have been the biggest, with between 3,000 and 5,000 beds.

Once completed, it would not only have been the largest hospital in China, but also one of the biggest hospitals in Asia.

Earlier speculation suggested Chinese authorities blocked the projects on the grounds that the law does not allow 100-percent foreign ownership of hospitals.

But reports said that the key factor behind the rejection was the fear that Chang Gung, with its deep financial and medical resources, could win a big slice of the Chinese market.

Earlier reports also said officials in Beijing did not want to take responsibility for approving the projects ahead of the Chi-nese Communist Party's 16th National Congress, which ended yesterday.

The Chang Gung group owns five medical centers in Taiwan -- in Keelung, Taipei, Linkou, Chiayi and Kaohsiung.

Wang has previously said that his investment in a Fujian Province power plant was a mistake.

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