China has invested billions in life science research over the past decade, and Western companies have flocked to the region to open new research facilities. The investment is crucial to stimulating economic growth as well as solving significant public health challenges posed by high rates of serious diseases, including hepatitis and lung and gastric cancers.

Yet currently, only Chinese companies can do first-in-man trials in the country. Add to that high data requirements and lengthy review timelines, and the result is that China is one of the last places for new drugs to be developed or launched.