Lawyers involved in the healthcare sector say the combination of military oversight and the frequent civilian use create grey areas about whether national laws apply and how they should be enforced.The health ministry would not comment on the wider issue of regulation of military hospitals. The defence ministry referred Reuters to a statement made at a regular news briefing in May in which it acknowledged the hospital in the Wei case had acted illegally. It said oversight of such hospitals would be improved, but did not say how.The Reuters review also showed that many of the hospitals surveyed offered patients stem cell therapy, a treatment which is only approved in China for clinical trials. The health ministry said in August last year research into stem cells to treat or prevent diseases was developing fast, but it was concerned some hospitals were violating government regulations to offer such treatments to boost profits.Shanghai-based Yuan Liming, a partner at law firm Jones Day, said there is another problem: military hospitals often allow third-parties to operate clinics within the hospital grounds. The health ministry told Reuters it was illegal for hospitals to sub-contract certain therapies to private clinics and that it would investigate any public hospitals doing so. “It clearly violates Chinese law, but it’s common,” said Yuan.Best FacilitiesSome military hospitals are regarded, alongside university hospitals, as among the country’s best medical facilities.They are overseen by military bodies such as the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force that answers to the powerful Central Military Commission headed by President Xi Jinping”Military hospitals, generally speaking, are not subject to administration and monitoring by the health ministry, but are subject to supervision by the Central Military Commission,” said Yuan.There is no indication any of the military hospitals contacted by Reuters had special exemption to offer immunotherapy treatment. The Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps was not approved.Another hospital, the General Hospital of Shenyang Military, said on its website it treated more than 1,600 people with a number of immunotherapy treatments. No one at the hospital was willing to comment.Others, including the 302 Military Hospital of China in Beijing, the 101st People’s Liberation Army in Wuxi, the Nanjing General Hospital and People’s Liberation Army No. 202 Hospital said on their websites they had used immunotherapy treatment.Repeated calls to the Nanjing hospital and the No. 202 hospital went unanswered. The 302 Military hospital and the 101st PLA hospital said they had stopped offering the therapy and declined to comment further.Gong Xiaoming, a senior Beijing-based gynaecologist and former physician at the prestigious Peking Union Medical College Hospital, said the main problem was the small private clinics used by military hospitals. Without tighter regulation the illegal provision of immunotherapy and other banned treatments would likely continue, he said.Such clinics, though separate businesses, often operate on a hospital’s premises and under its licence, putting them in another regulatory grey area, say lawyers and doctors.