Free checkups spark public outrage

Category:[world] [CHINA] [Regional]

A document issued late last month by the Hangzhou municipal government offering free health checks to the owners of private businesses has sparked controversy among the public.

About 150 of the most influential entrepreneurs in the capital of East China's Zhejiang Province appeared on the "welfare" list. They were offered examinations by some of the best medical experts in the city, as well as having their medicals records put on file, being enrolled in a regular checkup program and being registered as priority cases for future medical care.

Many people questioned whether it was appropriate for the government to use public funds to pay for the healthcare of some of the city's richest people.

"It obviously goes against the rules of social equality," Shao Pingbo, who lives in Hangzhou, told China Daily.

"Both entrepreneurs and common citizens pay tax. So any service provided by the government should cater to the needs of everyone and not be just a privilege for a small proportion of the people."

There was also a lot of online debate about the controversial decision.

One netizen named Hang Jing from Zhejiang Province, said: "The government did not fulfill its obligations to open its financial budget to people, which is drawn up without any public participation or supervision."

Zheng Yuchuan, a scholar and online commentator, wrote in his blog at "The government has no authority to dedicate the best medical resources to a small group of people and it will damage the public's ability to enjoy a quality medical service."

The Hangzhou government said it saw the policy as merely a way to remind entrepreneurs of the importance of healthcare.

Xu Guolian, deputy director of the city's talent office, said: "If the government puts lots of emphasis on developing the private economy, it should also care about the health of the company owners."

Many successful entrepreneurs have died in their prime because they failed to look after their health, Xu said.

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