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A nation's civilization to be seen in honor of the disabled
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15:02, September 04, 2008

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In the days leading up to the Beijing Paralympic Games, which runs from Sept 6-i7, the athletes with physical disabilities from across the world will be flooding to Beijing, and they will present us with not only their wonderful performance in sports but also the best qualities found in humans, which would be brought out in the competitions by their resolve to fight against the physical barriers. The Paralympics will also provide the ideal opportunity for the Chinese public to improve its awareness and understanding of people with physical disabilities.

According to the U.N statistics, there are 650 million disabled people worldwide, accounting for 10 percent of the world population. China has 83 million disabled people, about 6 percent of the population, and about 1 million live in the capital. Considering the unpredictability of disasters and calamities and the fact that no one can be immune from the mishaps, the number would be probably increasing at any time.

Therefore, paying respect to the needs of the disabled and offering a hand to those in need have long been adopted as a universal value, with human equality as its core. In actuality, the awareness of helping the disabled people and the recognition of their contributions to the society can partially mirror a nation's civilization level. China keeps a fine tradition always paying a tribute to the achievements made by people with physical disabilities.

It is well-documented in history that Sun Tzu, handicapped, wrote Sun Tzu Art of War 2,500 years ago, which is said to be the earliest and most valuable Chinese treatise on military science extant. Zuo Qiuming, blind, and contemporary of Confucius during the Spring and Autumn Period, is possibly a contributor to Guoyu, or Records from the States. There was even a famous saying in a historical document Commentary of Zuo : Zuo Qiu being blind, and Guoyu being born.

In modern era, more and more disabled people have proved their eminence by making remarkable achievements in various fields. The disabled athletes, for example, will have to be the Champion scuttling all their own physical barriers before beating rivals and winning medals in the competitions. The spectators would be enthralled by their competitive skills, much like what they could watch at any sporting event, still, they could be more touched by watching the Paralympics.

A recent survey indicated that in the countries with human life expectancy averaged above 70, people will have to spend 11.5 percent of their lifetime suffering bodily disabilities, or averagely each person will have to spend 8 years disabled. The programs designed to show respect and offer help to the disabled are thereby not merely out of altruism, but also a social activity with realistic significance.

On this basis, china has thus far enacted the laws and related regulations aimed to protect the rights and interests of the disabled people. More than 200,000 disabled people from Beijing have been or will be involved in the Olympic and Paralympic-related activities. 63 disabled volunteers will work at Paralympic venues and 680 disabled performers will be involved in the Games' opening and closing ceremonies. It was released by the Beijing municipal government's disabled persons' affairs committee last week that 20,000 disabled people and their families will be invited to watch the Paralympics live, and of the 1.66 million tickets on sale, the best seats at the most popular events have all been reserved for people with disabilities.

The advantages for Beijing to stage the Paralympics can be envisaged in many ways: first of all, it brings the needs of disabled people to the fore, and secondly, as part of the preparation, subways, airports and railway stations have been equipped with special facilities for the disabled. Last but not least, China has been steadily seeking a general social progress to match its rapid economic growth, and hosting the Paralympics will definitely provide China with a golden opportunity to step up the nationwide awareness of a harmonious society, in which all people can enjoy peace and equality. The Paralympics to be held in Beijing will act as the extension and enrichment of China's time-honored civilization.

By People's Daily Online

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