Research based on recordings made across numerous specialties and geographical locations has characterized doctors’ solicitations of patients’ reasons for the visit as normative. However, in our dataset of 132 audio-recordings of consultations in Chinese primary and secondary care, it was as common for patients to self-initiate giving the reason for their visit as it was for doctors to solicit these (n = 65 vs. n = 67 respectively). Based on a conversation analytic examination of our dataset, we show that doctors do not treat patient-initiated problem presentations as deviant. Whilst there are some contextual contingencies (related, for example, to the queuing-system) that might account for this novel finding, these are only partly explanatory. Instead, we argue that, relative to Western contexts, the participants in our data treat the medical consultation as akin to a service-encounter in which patients are entitled to ask for what they want. Implications for understanding medical openings and health outcomes are discussed.