Effect of Chinese incentives seems muted: ministry

By Wu Liang-yi and Lin Hui-chin  /  Staff reporters

Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 3

Fewer Taiwanese physicians are working in China this year than in previous years, suggesting that China’s incentives to attract Taiwanese doctors have not been effective, Ministry of Health and Welfare data showed.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Feb. 28 announced a package of 31 incentives that it said would allow “Taiwanese compatriots to share in the opportunities arising from China’s economic development.”

Among the measures related to medical professionals, Taiwanese who complete one year of graduate education at a Chinese medical school would be allowed to sit physician qualification tests and apply for medical positions in China.

Those obtaining Chinese physician licenses can work as medical practitioners for a defined period, after which they are required to renew their registration.

The incentives mostly appeal to Taiwanese who are rejected by medical schools in Taiwan and have limited effect on domestic medical students and physicians, a doctor said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Allowing Taiwanese physicians to practice in China is an old policy and the new incentives have not really changed much, they added.

There are more than 40,000 registered physicians in Taiwan, of whom about 100 have applied to work in China over the past eight months, a drop from a historical peak of 400 and lower than the annual average of 200 to 250 people in previous years, Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said yesterday.

Fewer than 50 Taiwanese physicians working in China have been practicing there for “a long time,” which shows that Beijing’s measures do not attract domestic medical talent, Shih said.

However, it might be too early for the data to reflect a long-term upward trend, he said, adding that the ministry would keep abreast of changes and brace for any potential consequences.

It is true that some doctors were recruited by Chinese hospitals paying handsome salaries, but those are individual cases, not a large-scale phenomenon, the Mainland Affairs Council said.

From the cultivation of medical personnel to the interaction between doctors and patients, medical cultures across the Taiwan Strait are divergent, and most Taiwanese physicians still prefer to stay in their own nation, the council said, adding that it evaluated the overall influence of Beijing’s 31 measures in a report to be published “soon.”

Additional reporting by Lu Yi-hsuan