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Chinese president holds grand luncheon to welcome distinguished guests for Beijing Paralympics
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19:20, September 06, 2008

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Chinese president Hu Jintao held a grand luncheon at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing on Saturday to welcome international dignitaries who have come to attend the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.

Proposing a toast, Hu said by participating in the Games, Paralympians from around the world display self-esteem, self-confidence, self-improvement and self-support. They share joy, forge friendships, realize dreams and experience success. They challenge themselves and bring out the value of life.

Chinese President Hu Jintao proposes a toast during a welcoming luncheon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Sept. 6, 2008.

"The Paralympic Movement inspires people with and without a disability to interact in the same global family, enjoy equal rights in the society and build a harmonious world together," he said.

Other top Party and state leaders of China, including Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang, together with Hu's wife Liu Yongqing, were present at the luncheon.

The international dignitaries included President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Philip Craven and Honorary President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch.

At around 11:40 a.m., President Hu and his wife Liu greeted 48 foreign dignitaries and their spouses, ahead of the welcoming luncheon. The presidential couple shook hands with the foreign guests one by one.

The toast Hu proposed was titled "Promote the Paralympic Movement and Join Hands to Build a Better World."

Hu said in the toast that since the 1960s when the first Paralympic Games was held and thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, the Paralympic Games has become an important cultural and sports event that helps enhance mutual understanding and friendship among the people and promote human civilization.

"Over 4,000 athletes from more than 140 countries and regions will participate in the Beijing Paralympic Games. This fully demonstrates the global care and support for sports for people with a disability," Hu said.

He said care for people with a disability is an important hallmark of a civilized and progressive society. There are 83 million people with a disability in China. The Chinese government and people have always attached importance to their well-being.

"We follow the principle of putting people first and advocate a humanitarian spirit. We stand for equality, oppose discrimination, care for the vulnerable and respect human rights," he added.

"We have adopted a range of policies and measures to encourage public care and support for people with a disability and actively promote their overall well-being, and our achievements have been recognized by all," he said.

"The Beijing Paralympic Games is an opportunity for us to further promote the humanitarian spirit, protect the rights and interests of people with a disability and ensure that they share the benefits of economic and social development as equal members of the society," said Hu.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the development of sports for people with a disability, and China has been an active participant in the Paralympic Movement. Since winning the bid to host the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2001, the Chinese government and people have, with the strong support of the IPC and the international community, earnestly fulfilled their solemn commitments to the world, Hu added.

"We have set the goal of 'two Games with equal splendor' and, guided by the concept of 'transcendence, integration and equality,' made the utmost effort in the preparation for the Games. I am confident that, with the support of the IPC and the world at large, we will deliver a high-standard Paralympic Games with distinctive features," said the president.

"One World, One Dream" is the slogan of both the Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. Hu noted, adding that "I believe that, the Beijing Paralympic Games will provide an opportunity for people with a disability from all over the world to deepen mutual understanding and friendship, and will leave a rich legacy to the development of sports for people with a disability."

"Let's join hands to promote the well-being of people with a disability and make the world a better place," he concluded.

Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 29th Olympic Games (BOCOG), presided over the luncheon.

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