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More Awareness For Guide Dogs in China, But Still a Long Way To Go

Chinese media and social media users are creating more awareness on guide dogs and service dog etiquette in China. But with very few available assistance dogs and many misconceptions about them, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome for guide dogs to become more common in the PRC.

Manya Koetse



Chinese media and social media users are creating more awareness on guide dogs and service dog etiquette in China. But with very few available assistance dogs and many misconceptions about them, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome before guide dogs can become more common in the PRC.

“Do not disturb guide dogs,” Chinese state broadcaster CCTV posted on Sina Weibo on October 15. Raising awareness of service dog etiquette, the news outlet shared several infographics and warned people not to feed guide dogs or deny them entrance.


“Do not call out to guide dogs,” CCTV writes: “They are at work. Do not touch or feed service dogs or guide dogs for the blind. They are not pets. They’re working dogs who have gone through strict training. Please don’t distract them.”

People’s Daily also paid attention to service dogs in a post on October 15 in celebration of World Sight Day, honoring the tough job guide dogs do.

Getting a guide dog is simply unattainable for many people in China.

As of May 2015, service dogs are accepted in Beijing’s public transport. But since the phenomenon of guide dogs (导盲犬) is relatively new to China, general knowledge on service dog etiquette is often lacking.

The world’s first guide dog training center started in 1817 in Vienna. Guide dogs became internationally recognized after the First World War, when dogs assisted veterans who had lost their vision during the war.

But China severely lags behind when it comes to service dogs for the (visually) handicapped. Not only are there very few guide dogs, the lack of general understanding of their role has also hampered their public acceptance.

In 2014, Netease published an article about China’s lack of guide dogs. While mainland China has around 17 million people with a visual handicap, there are only 67 official guide dogs. In the capital of Beijing, there are currently 10 registered guide dogs. The southern province of Yunnan, that has a population of nearly 46 million people, recently welcomed its very first guide dog.

Mainland China has only one national training center for service dogs. China’s Guide Dog Training Center (中国导盲犬大连培训基地), located in Dalian, was established in 2004 and was officially approved by the China Disabled Persons Federation (中国残疾人联合会) in 2006.

The center has 12 dog trainers, and currently holds a total of 54 service dogs in training according to the official website. About 40% of these dog do not pass the strict tests to qualify as a guide dog. The center provides its guide dogs to (visually) handicapped people free of charge.


The training of guide dogs, that requires about 6 to 8 months of intensive and consistent exercise, is a costly affair: ±120,000-150,000 RMB (±18,000-22,000 US$) per year of training. The government has no official policy on guide dogs for the blind, and there is limited funding available.

If handicapped people apply for a guide dog, they personally need to come to Dalian to train with the dog for a period of time. With many people living far from Dalian and not having the financial means to make the journey, getting a guide dog is simply unattainable for many handicapped people in China.

“No matter how many times we explained that Jenny is a guide dog, he was determined not to let us stay.”

One person who has done much for increasing awareness on guide dogs in China is Chen Yan (陈燕). Chen is a successful blind female entrepreneur who has become a public figure together with her guide dog Jenny.


She is an active social media user, sharing many stories about the everyday life and struggles of her and her guide dog on her Weibo account. She frequently posts about public places denying her entrance because of her service dog.

Chen received much support when she shared how a Beijing subway employee would not allow her entrance to the public transport system for having her dog with her. It was the 12th time she was refused entrance to the subway before the new May 2015 law on guide dogs in public transport was implemented.

Chen is denied access to a public park in Nanjing for having her service dog with her.

Chen is denied access to a public park in Nanjing for having her service dog with her.

She recently also shared how guards of a public park in Nanjing denied her access to the premises, and how a restaurant manager would not allow her and Jenny to have dinner at his establishment. She wrote: “No matter how many times we explained to him that Jenny is a guide dog, he said his customers would complain and he was determined not to let us stay.”

Chen is refused entrance at a local restaurant because of her guide dog Jenny.

Chen is refused entrance at a local restaurant because of her guide dog Jenny.

On Weibo, many netizens express their appreciation of guide dogs. “I wished nobody would refuse guide dogs,” one netizen writes: “They are the eyes for blind people, and should be welcomed by everyone.”

“Guide dogs sacrifice so much to be able to do the work they do.”

It is clear that there has been increased (social) media attention for guide dogs in China over the past year. The story of a blind man from Beijing whose guide dog was stolen made headlines in February of 2016.

It especially became a big topic when the dog was again safely returned with a sorry note shortly after its abduction.

Weibo’s love for guide dogs also shows by the many accounts dedicated to them. One guide dog named Candie even has her own account on Weibo.

According to her bio, Candie is the first internationally qualified guide dog of China. With over 384,000 followers, Candie informs people of the kind of work service dogs do.


“Guide dogs sacrifice so much to be able to do the work they do,” one netizen says: “Why on earth would someone refuse them?”

Other Weibo users agree: “They are little heroes. We should acknowledge their importance and treat them well.”

– By Manya Koetse
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Note: Want to contribute to the China Guide Dog Training Center? Their official website has an online charity shop and also a donation page (bank account number on bottom of page). [What’s on Weibo is not affiliated with the China Guide Dog Training Center in any way.]

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Health & Science

Applying China’s New Civil Code, Shanghai Court Annuls Marriage after Husband Hides HIV-positive Status from Wife

The court case triggered discussions on the need for premarital health checks.

Manya Koetse



Jiang is HIV-positive but did not mention his status to his partner before getting married. Under China’s new civil code, the marriage is now annulled.

On January 4, a Shanghai court applied the new rules of China’s Civil Code for the first time to annul a marriage.

The Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China was adopted by the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress in May of last year and is effective since January 1st 2021. Some experts within China call the law a “milestone legislation” that will better protect people’s civil rights.

On Monday, January 4, a landmark court case in which the new civil code was applied for the first time in Shanghai went trending on Chinese social media.

The case involves a married couple of which the husband had failed to inform his wife that he was HIV positive before getting married.

In June of 2020, Mr. Jiang and Ms. Li got married after Li became pregnant. Afterward, Jiang confessed that he had been HIV-positive for multiple years, and was taking medication to control his disease.

Jiang alleged that, due to his medication, there was effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to his partner. But Li, who did not contract HIV, could not accept the situation and decided to terminate her pregnancy and applied for a marriage annulment.

Under the new civil code, annulment of marriage is possible when a partner who is “seriously ill” – which now includes HIV/AIDS – fails to inform their fiance of their condition before getting married.

Since Jiang had not informed his wife of his condition before tying the knot, the Shanghai Minhang Court ruled in Li’s favor and annulled the marriage.

On Weibo, the case has attracted a lot of attention, with one hashtag about the case (#男方婚前患艾滋未告知婚姻关系被撤销#) attracting 690 million views on Monday.

The news item also led to another hashtag gaining many views: “The Need for Premarital Medical Examination” (#婚前体检的必要性#) had 200 million views on its hashtag page on Monday.

One popular relationship blogger (@感情感分析异地恋) argues that the Shanghai court case shows the importance of couples getting a medical examination before getting married: “It’s not to discriminate against those who are HIV positive or who are suffering from other illnesses, but it’s about informing your partner about these things before getting married.”

Premarital health checks were previously compulsory in China, but these examinations are no longer required since 2003. Many couples do still go for premarital health checkups. According to Xinhua, over 61% of Chinese couples had a medical examination before getting married in 2018.

Although the application of China’s new civil code is generally praised by Weibo users in this case, it has previously also received a lot of negative attention. The new law also introduced a mandatory 30-day “cooling off” period for couples seeking divorce.

This “cooling off” period is seen as harmful to those who are suffering abuse within marriage and already have difficulties in leaving their abusive partner. The case of Lamu, a Tibetan vlogger who died after her husband set her on fire, also led to more online discussions of the “cooling off” period and how it makes women more vulnerable within their marriage.

By Manya Koetse

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China Health & Science

Annual List of China’s Best Hospitals: Ranking the Top 10 Hospitals of the Year

These are China’s best hospitals according to the Fudan University annual ranking list.

Manya Koetse



A new list with the 50 highest rated hospitals in China of the year 2019 has been released earlier this month.

A hospital list, ranking the best hospitals in China, was released earlier this month. The list is independently issued annually since 2010 by the Hospital Management Institute of Shanghai’s Fudan University. It ranks the top 100 hospitals in China and the top 10 hospitals over various clinical specialties. In doing so, it has become one of the most important hospital rankings in China.

The topic became trending on Weibo with over 110 million views (#复旦版中国医院排行榜#). Although there is a major interest in this topic, there are also those questioning what makes a hospital the ‘best’ hospital. This list, among other things, is based on the hospital’s reputation and its capacity to conduct scientific research.

“What is fame and reputation? What I care about when seeing a doctor is their success rate in curing patients,” one social media user wrote – a sentiment shared by many. Others also say it is best to look for the right hospital depending on the patient’s personal needs.

Although it is true that these rankings do not include any rates on treatment results, they are relevant to patients for their reputation and size nonetheless.

China currently has a significant shortage of doctors, and the most qualified doctors are more prone to go to the hospitals with the best reputation. It is an ongoing cycle that has left many of the more rural and smaller hospitals lacking qualified staff. (For more about the problems facing China’s healthcare system, also see this article.)

We will list the top 10 of China’s best hospitals according to the report here, including some basic info.


#1 Peking Union Medical College Hospital

Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) has topped these rankings consecutively for 11 years. The hospital was founded in 1921 by Rockefeller Foundation and is affiliated to both Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).

PUMCH offers 2000 beds, has more than 4000 employees, and 57 clinical and medical departments. The hospital recently also launched its online services, including consultation, prescribing medicine, and electronic medical recording, which reportedly will expand to all clinical sections of the hospital.

Weibo: @北京协和医院 (960906 followers)
Website: link
Address: #9 Dongdan 3rd Alley, Dongcheng, Beijing, China


#2 West China Hospital Sichuan University

Founded in 1872, the West China Medical Center is China’s biggest hospital in terms of size, and also ranks number two in the list of the world’s largest hospitals (no 1 being the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan). The hospital has a capacity of 4300 beds and there are 46 clinical departments.

West China Hospital has recently been in the news a lot due to the development of its own experimental COVID19 vaccine.

Weibo: @四川大学华西医院 (483829 followers)
Website: link
Address: #37 Guoxue Alley, Wuhou District, Chengdu, Sichuan Province


#3 People’s Liberation Army General Hospital / 301 Hospital

The General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAGH), also known as 301 Hospital or PLA General Hospital, is the largest general hospital under the auspices of the People’s Liberation Army. The military hospital, used by the top leadership, was founded in 1953 and has a capacity of 4000 beds.

Earlier this year, the hospital made headlines for being the first center in Asia to provide newly advanced (ZAP) non-invasive technologies to treat brain tumors.

Website: link
Address: No. 28 Fuxing Road, Haidian District, Beijing


#4 Ruijin Hospital

Ruijin Hospital, formally known as Guangci Hospital, was founded in 1907. The hospital has 34 clinical departments, with a capacity of 1774 beds and a staff of over 3300.

The hospital is known for the rescue of burn victim Qiu Caikang, an iron worker of Shanghai Steel Factory who was burnt by molten steel in 1958. Although he suffered extensive burns to 89% of his body – and was thought unlikely to survive -, the staff at the hospital were able to successfully treat him. The hospital’s technologies in treatment of deep burns has since been renowned throughout the country.

Website: link
Address: 197, Rui Jin Er Road,Shanghai 


#5 Zhongshan Hospital Fudan University

This Shanghai hospital, which opened in 1937, is a major teaching hospital affiliated with the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University. It was the first large-scale general hospital managed by Chinese people at its time of opening.

Zhongshan Hospital is leading in China when it comes to the treatment of heart, kidney, and diseases, and liver cancer. The hospital has over 1900 beds and more than 4000 hospital staff.

Website: link
Address: 180 Fenglin Road, Shanghai


#6 The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University

The First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. Founded in 1910, the hospital was initially called the Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Public Institution of Medicine. It is one of the largest hospitals in China.

The hospital is renowned for various medical specialties, including liver and kidney transplantion. The hospital has 72 clinical departments, 3523 beds, and over 6000 staff.

Website: link
Address: 58 Zhongshan 2nd Rd, Yuexiu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province


#7 Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Tongji Hospital was officially founded by German doctor Erich Paulun in 1900, located in Shanghai, and did not move the Medical College to Wuhan until 1950. The hospital, which now has some 4000 beds and 7000 staff members, has 52 clinical and paramedical departments.

During the new coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, the hospital provided 800 beds for severe cases.

Website: link
Address: No.1095 Jie Fang Avenue, Hankou, Wuhan


#8 Xijing Hospital

Xijing Hospital was founded in 1939 and has since been a hospital of several ‘world’s firsts’, including being world’s first hospital to recreate a ‘4D’-printed breast for a cancer patient who underwent a mastectomy. The hospital also saw China’s first baby born from a transplanted womb.

Xijing Hospital houses 3218 beds.

Website: link
Adress: No. 127 Changle West Road, Xincheng District, Xi’an


#9 Huashan Hospital

Huashan Hospital’s main branch is located in the city center of Shanghai, in the former French Concession. The hospital was founded in 1907 as the Chinese Red Cross General Hospital by Governor Shen Dunhe, the founder of the Red Cross Society of China. The hospital opened for business in 1909.

Besides being a general hospital with around 3000 staff members and over 1215 beds at the main branch, it is also Fudan University’s major and renowned teaching hospital. Huashan is one of the best-known hospitals in China.

Website: link
Address: 12 Wulumuqi Middle Rd, Jing’an District, Shanghai


#10 Wuhan Union Hospital

Wuhan Union Hospital has a long history; it was founded in 1866 by Griffith John, a Welsh Christian missionary and translator in China. The hospital is an active general hospital, as well as focusing on teaching and scientific research.

The hospital has a total of 5000 beds and more than 8000 staff members. In 2020, the hospital became one of the designated hospitals to treat patients from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Website: link
Address: 1277 Jiefang Avenue, Wuhan, Hubei Province


By Manya Koetse

Original photo used in featured image by Adhy Savala

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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