Xi Jinping -- champion of disabled rights, prospects

(Xinhua) 08:17, May 17, 2021

BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Before Wang Yani took to the podium at a special school in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, she showed a visitor some sign language. It was 2014, and Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting the children's home where little Yani lived.

"Grandpa Xi smiled and was shown -- A thumbs-up means 'OK,' and bending the thumb means 'thanks,' " said Wang.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) learns the sign language for "thanks" from Wang Yani (C) and Yan Zhijing at the Children Welfare House of Hohhot City, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Jan. 28, 2014. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)

Born with a hearing impairment, Wang had been living at the children's home since she was a baby.

In Wang's room, the president looked through some of her sign language books and albums.

"He encouraged me to study hard and wished me success in my studies. Grandpa Xi's visit was a huge encouragement," said Wang.

With the president's advice at the front of her mind, Wang worked hard to become a teacher, hoping one day to help some of the 85 million people in China, who -- just like her -- live with a disability.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) talks with Wang Yani (L) and Yan Zhijing at the Children Welfare House of Hohhot City, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Jan. 28, 2014. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)

Back in 1990, another young student in Fujian Province had a dream. After two rejections, Huang Daoliang, who had lost his arms in an accident at the age of nine, was finally accepted into university.

With few places in Chinese universities for students with disabilities at that time, Xi Jinping, who was Party chief of Fuzhou City and also president of Minjiang University, offered Huang a place.

"Before I received the admission letter, I didn't have any confidence about my future at all. Nor did I know what to do," said Huang. "Going to university was a huge turning point in my life."

Huang studied a secretarial course, which later helped him secure a job with the disabled persons' federation in his hometown Minqing County.

"If I didn't go to university, where would I be? I really can't imagine it," said Huang. "I can say, without going to university, without principal Xi, I would never have realized my potential and live a happy life today."

Today, with Huang as the vice director, the local federation supports some 7,000 people across Minqing, with initiatives that span therapy, employment and poverty alleviation.

By the end of last year, each and every one of the more than 7 million registered poor living with disabilities nationwide were lifted above the national poverty line.

"As principal Xi said, I am a useful member of our society," said Huang.

"Principal Xi's decision to offer me a place, on a national scale, encourages more care and help for people with disabilities. For those living with a disability, my experience gives people the courage to be braver, more confident and chase their dreams," he said.

When Xi Jinping, then Party secretary of Shanghai, took to the stage at an event to kick off the 100-day countdown to the Shanghai 2007 Special Olympics, he offered a helping hand, quite literally, to two children involved in the proceedings.

Xi, in his role as honorary vice president of the organizing committee, directed preparations for the tournament, which brought 7,291 athletes with learning disabilities from across the world together to compete.

"In preparations for the games, President Xi worked hard and spared no efforts," said Zhang Linjun, general office director of the Shanghai Special Olympics executive committee. "The success of the tournament has changed attitudes toward disadvantaged groups. More people got to help people with disabilities, and there is less ignorance or prejudice. People with disabilities are now better understood and accepted."

Germany's Fischer Marcel (R) is challenged by a player of the Netherlands during the Group B match of the men's handball at the 2007 Special Olympics Summer Games in Shanghai, east China on Oct. 4, 2007. (Xinhua/Dai Xuming)

And Xi is not just involved in the big events. He understands how small things can make a huge difference, which is why he met a community volunteer who narrates movies for the blind in Wuhan, Hubei Province, on April 26, 2018.

"The president was curious about my movie narration work. He asked me how I do it," said Du Chengcheng.

Du explained how she describes scenes. An amputee herself, she has helped more than 8,000 movie goers enjoy films over the past decade. Xi said her work was meaningful.

At the end of their conversation, Xi bent down to shake her hand with a smile and said "thank you."

"Over the years I have encountered difficulties, and I was touched by the president's thanks," said Du. "I think President Xi's words would help more people care about people with disabilities, as well as shine a light on our cause."

Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd R front), who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), visits paraplegic patients at the city's paraplegic rehabilitation center in Tangshan, north China's Hebei Province, July 28, 2016. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)

During a visit on July 28, 2016 to a residential care center for victims of a devastating earthquake that hit Tangshan in 1976, Xi reaffirmed that all Chinese would benefit from the country's advances.

One important aspect of the country's target of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is to do more for people with disabilities, and "no person with disabilities will be left behind" when China hits that target, Xi told the center's residents. Among them was a couple, Yang Yufang and Gao Zhihong.

"The president talked warmly, just like an old friend," said Yang.

The couple told Xi that they live content lives at the center where they have jobs and write stories and poems in their spare time.

Xi said what he saw from the couple's story is the perseverance and wonder of life. He said as long as the able-bodied can live a brilliant life, people with disabilities can do, too.

(Web editor: Guo Wenrui, Liang Jun)


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