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Chinese Premier Agrees 'Good System Matters More Than Good Premier'

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao responded to the criticism from Chinese netizens on Saturday, admitting that to have seriously ill children rescued, a good medical system would matter more than a good Premier.

The criticism brewed two weeks ago when media reports said that Wen had personally donated 10,000 yuan to Li Rui and arranged for the two-year-old suffering leukaemia from the rural area in Zhangjiakou of Hebei Province to get hospitalized in the Beijing Chidlren's Hospital.

"I noticed the harsh criticism which says good system matters more than good Premier and understood the argument," Wen said, responding to a question on the treatment of seriously ill children in an on-line chat jointly run by the central government web site ( and this Xinhua News Agency web site (

"China has more than four million leukemic children. Treatment for each would cost more than 100,000 yuan. But no medical insurance in China would allow reimbursement for such large medical bills," Wen said. "Being the Premier, I need to think about how to optimize our medical system and have seriously ill children treated."

"We have already started to work in this direction. But our efforts is far from enough," he said.

Although 90 percent of China's rural residents have been covered by the country's rural medical cooperative mechanism, the per capita reimbursement for serious diseases averages only 100 yuan a year, demanding fiscal expenditure of nearly 10 billion yuan in total.

"The amount will rise to 120 yuan this year. But it will remain to be only a drop in the bucket. The only way is to constantly develop our economy and raise people's income," Wen said.

The Premier said one immediate and viable remedy would be the establishment of a mechanism that can boldly mobilize the masses to come to the rescue of seriously ill children.

In his first ever on-line chat, Wen detailed a newly passed medical reform plan which involved an expenditure of 850 billion yuan (US$123 billion) by 2011 to provide universal medical service to the country's 1.3 billion population.

Wen said the plan covers five aspects:

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