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At the same time, the socioeconomic changes wrought by China's economic explosion and openness to the outside world created enormous new health care challenges and strains on the country's capacity to manage them. As part of his government's efforts to reduce social inequities resulting from 30 years of runaway growth, Hu made improving China's health care system a priority. The SARS crisis of 2003 was a catalyzing period for China, and since then Beijing's blueprint for national health care has been drawn and redrawn several times. The problems are deep and multifaceted; identifying solutions is not easy, no matter how clear a priority the task might be.
If China cannot meet its health care challenges, it will further tax an already strained international infrastructure. On the other hand, if China is successful, it can not only short-circuit an international spread of disease but also become a net donor to the global health community. To that end, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS assembled a group of international experts to address the current health care situation in China, China's efforts to tackle the problems of infectious disease and health carereform, and the regional and global dimensions of these reform efforts. This report is intended as a tool to help international policymakers and practitioners, as well as Chinese officials and academics, meet the challenges of health care in China head on.