VIII. Guarantee of the Rights and
Interests of the Disabled

China has all along attached importance to guaranteeing the various rights and interests of the disabled. On the one hand, China has adopted various measures to ensure that the disabled enjoy equal rights with other citizens and to protect their rights from infringement; on the other hand, China has adopted special support measures to help and promote the disabled to actually and equally participate in social life and share social material and cultural achievements by primarily setting up a guarantee system of human rights for the disabled. In the past few years, along with the sustained, rapid and healthy development of China's economy, China's guarantee system of human rights for the disabled has been perfected step by step.

In December 1990 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons, which came into force in May 1991. Hence China has a special law guaranteeing the disabled's human rights. To strengthen the work guaranteeing human rights for the disabled, the State Council founded the State Coordination Committee for Work on the Disabled, consisting of 33 commissions and ministries and the China Disabled Persons' Federation. Each province, autonomous region and centrally administered municipality and each prefecture, city and county has also founded a coordination organ for work on the disabled under the leadership of local governments at different level.

To help the disabled recover maximum health is an important prerequisite for them to enjoy extensive human rights. By the end of 1994 China had performed 1.232 million cataract operations, rectified 417,000 people/time of polio sequelae and trained 57,000 deaf children in hearing and speech, Chinese governments at all levels have set up 6,558 community rehabilitation centers. In addition, China has founded 574 poor-eyesight rehabilitation centers, providing more than 20,000 poor-sighted people with sight aids, and established 463 rehabilitation centers for mentally retarded children, which have trained 4,060 mentally retarded children and over 30,000 parents and rehabilitation instructors in grass-roots units.

China pays particular attention to protecting the disabled's rights to labor and employment. The Labor Law of the People's Republic of China, Regulations for State-Owned Enterprises for Changes in Operating Mechanisms, and other laws and regulations all include specific regulations guaranteeing the disabled's rights to labor and employment. Twenty-seven provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities in China have formulated local legislation specifying that the proportion of disabled people among total employees of government organs, enterprises and institutions should not be lower than 1.5 percent. By the end of 1994 the number of welfare enterprises mainly employing the disabled had reached 60,000 in China. Over 70 percent of disabled persons with labor abilities in cities and towns above the county level have been employed.

To let disabled persons enjoy the right to receive education is work on which the Chinese government has expended great effort in recent years. The Chinese government has set up special-education schools and classes for blind, deaf and mentally retarded children. By the end of 1994 China had set up 1,241 special-education schools and 5,301 special-education classes for the disabled, and the number of blind, deaf and mentally retarded students had reached 210,000. The number of special schools, special classes and disabled students attending these special schools and classes increased by 224 percent, 99 percent and 416 percent respectively over the 1990 figures. There are 370 vocational education and training centers for disabled persons in China. In 1994 alone 97,000 people/time of handicapped persons were trained. In China thousands of disabled students enter colleges and universities every year.

The spiritual life of the disabled in China has become rich and varied. In recent years all localities in China have held various performances, sports contests, and other cultural activities, such as calligraphy, painting, photography and philately, for the disabled. In September 1994 the Chinese government held the Sixth Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled in Beijing. Over 2,000 athletes from 42 countries and regions attended the games. To run the games well, the Chinese government poured huge human, material and financial resources into them and organized more than 30,000 volunteers to serve the handicapped friends from other countries. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the heads of 13 states or governments and the chairman of the International Olympic Committee for the Disabled sent congratulatory telegrams to China, speaking highly of the efforts of the Chinese government and people for the cause of disabled people.

In recent years the Chinese government and various circles in the society have done a great deal of work to create a favorable social environment for people to understand, respect, care for and help disabled persons. On National Helping-the-Disabled Day, legally set in May every year, the broad masses of the people all over the country actively participate in activities to help the disabled, strengthening their understanding of and respect for the disabled. Every year over 30 million children take part in Young Pioneers Helping the Disabled activities, which have been carried out for eight years running. Many moving deeds of helping the aged and disabled have emerged. Many hospitals in large and medium-sized cities have conducted activities to show love to disabled orphans. By performing operations on the disabled, they have helped many disabled orphans recover their health.

To help the disabled participate in social life, China has worked out and implemented Standards for the Design of Urban Roads and Buildings for the Disabled's Convenience, which require all localities to build obstacle-free structures in accordance with actual conditions and economic development in China when constructing municipal works and various buildings. The past few years have witnessed a great increase in various special installations and obstacle-free structures in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Shenzhen and other large cities.