Auburn, Maine's natural beauty and clean air are being touted to benefit Chinese patients seeking medical treatment in the US. Image: The B's, Flickr.

Maine-China Ties Cross into New Sectors


Lobsters aren’t the only items attracting interest from the Chinese market in Maine. The state’s pristine environs and clean air are making it an attractive destination for Chinese tourists seeking medical treatment. Miracle Enterprise, a Chinese investment group, announced on July 31st that it will open a medical tourism facility in Auburn, Maine.

The project is estimated to cost about $40 million and will convert a former shoe factory into a high-class medical facility. The local and state governments are involved, as well as Central Maine Medical Center. The facility will have 200 rooms and expects to treat 5,000 patients from China each year. As medical tourism grows as an industry, many US cities and states strive to attract Chinese patients who represent a large part of the market. Medical facilities such as the one planned for Auburn become a source of foreign investment categorized as EB-5, which allows for investors to eventually apply for US citizenship.

Medical investment is just one aspect of the multifaceted economic relationship between Maine and China. In May, China’s Consul General in New York, Zhang Qiyue, along with a delegation of Chinese businesses, attended the Maine International Trade Center conference to further promote trade and investment.

In international education, Maine universities are working to attract more students from China. Currently, about 1,000 Chinese students are enrolled in universities in Maine. Maine public schools also want to increase international enrollment. Rural school districts in Maine have fewer students, so students from abroad help boost the school districts’ populations and generate revenue from tuition. The increased funds allow schools to enhance education for everyone though language programs, building new facilities, or hiring more faculty. While students are recruited from all over the world, many high school international student programs started with students from China before expanding to attract students from other countries.

Melissa Newcomb is a Project Assistant at the East-West Center in Washington, D.C.