TAIPEI - The Chinese now have a new reason to visit Taiwan, and it’s not tourism or business: they are heading to Taiwan in droves for medical check-ups and cosmetic surgery.

Thirty-nine Taiwanese hospitals are now specially licensed to accept Chinese patients who come on combined medical/tourist trips. According to the China Times, more than 50,000 people came to Taiwan in the first eight months of this year for medical reasons. Forty percent of these visitors come from China.

The Joint Commission International, an international leader in health care accreditation, has already accredited 14 Taiwanese hospitals. Medical success rates are remarkably high: 100 percent for cleft palate repair, 98 percent for liver transplant (the world’s highest), and a 38 percent success rate for fertility treatment. Rare diseases such as elephantitis are also treated, the China Times reports.

More than three million Chinese each year choose to undergo cosmetic surgery, a market growing at 10 percent annually. The Chinese recently overtook the South Koreans who are also big customers for cosmetic surgery. 

Until recently, Chinese people were mostly going to Korea or Japan for medical care; 100,000 a year to South Korea alone. But as a result of many disputes the market is now shifting to Taiwan where there is no language barrier.

Top travel travel agencies in Taiwan are selling trips to wealthy Chinese customers, which combine medical treatment such as checkups and cosmetic skin care with gourmet slimming meals, cultural experiences, and even agricultural visits. This is marketed as an “All Azimuts Health Experience,” says Taihai Net.

It’s not surprising that Chinese clients are flocking to Taiwan given the overcrowded nature of Chinese hospitals, their quality problems, and the fact that disputes with doctors are frequent. Last year, 10 Chinese doctors were murdered by dissatisfied patients.