- Shenzhen: More self-determination for patients
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- Heads: Michael Clauß – China expert in Brussels
Death is probably a topic that everyone around the world prefers to avoid. It is usually not for us to decide how we leave this life – be it peacefully in our sleep or after a long illness. In some countries, it is possible to avoid extreme pain and suffering to the very end thanks to assisted dying. Shenzhen has now become the first Chinese city to enshrine living will in law. This reignites the debate about euthanasia, as Ning Wang reports. Shenzhen could become a pilot project for authorities to analyze how the issue is received by the people and how the healthcare system can handle it. In any case, the new law gives citizens some control over the last decision in life.
The Chinese government has recently displayed the impression of absolute control in the domestic private sector. Tech companies have been reprimanded and fined, and IPOs have been temporarily suspended. Ride-hailing service DiDi is facing a billion-dollar fine, according to insiders. Many observers deemed the measures part of a new trend toward more state control over the economy. However, a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) paints a different picture. The notion that the private sector is being kept down is unfounded in light of the figures cited there, writes Frank Sieren, who took a closer look at the study. Overall revenues of private companies have risen steadily over the past ten years, while the share of companies controlled by the state has declined significantly. However, the fact that the freedom of the private sector has tight limits is proven by the party cells that became mandatory in every company under Xi Jinping. After all, private enterprise means something different in China than it does in the West.
Shenzhen sparks debate on assisted dying
It is a milestone: Shenzhen will allow terminally ill patients the choice of refusing life-saving treatment by law to protect their right to a dignified death. The city has passed a new law that is set to enter into force at the beginning of 2023. “When patients are at the final stage of an incurable disease or at the end of their life, medical agencies should respect the indications of their living will,” states the revised medical regulation published at the end of June.
Leading state media such as the Global Times also reported positively on this bill in their English editions. It is described as “pioneering” and would break through “traditional views”. It was also called “an important opportunity for public education about life and death”.
Reactions on social media about the law, on the other hand, were very mixed. Supporters believe that the plans show greater respect for human rights. While opponents see the risk that terminally ill patients could be forced by their families to refrain from further treatment out of fear of high medical costs. On Weibo, one doctor hailed the announcement as “absolutely necessary” to reduce patient suffering. The doctor also touches on the issue of euthanasia.