An estimate based on a sample survey in 1987 shows that in the mainland of China there are about 51 million disabled people, or 5 percent of the population. The Chinese government has paid close attention to the question of rights of the disabled and provided them special assistance and protection in order to reduce or eliminate the effects of disability and the external obstacles and guarantee their rights.
China's Constitution provides that the state guarantees that the disabled enjoy the same civic rights as the able-bodied. 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 in December 1990. This law, guided by the principles of "equality," "participation" and "co-enjoyment," stipulates that the disabled enjoy equal rights with other citizens and are protected from infringement. It also states that measures of support and help shall be taken to develop undertakings for the handicapped, promote their equal participation in social life and guarantee their share of the material and cultural achievements of society. Many important laws such as the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the General Principles of the Civil Law, the Civil Procedure Law, the Marriage Law, the Inheritance Law, the Electoral Law, the Military Service Law and the Compulsory Education Law, have special provisions guaranteeing the rights and interests of the handicapped.
In accordance with these laws, the Chinese government has
To guarantee the right of the disabled to elect and to be elected, China's Electoral Law stipulates that those who are unable to write their vote may ask others whom they trust to write for them. Appraisal of the mentally or intellectually handicapped who are unable to participate in elections has to be made by hospitals and other appropriate departments and approved by the election committees.
Chinese law guarantees the property rights and other civil rights and interests of the disabled. For the disabled who are unable to file a civil suit, the law stipulates requirements for their qualified guardians. The Inheritance Law of the People's Republic of China details measures protective of the right to inheritance of property of the disabled people who are unable to work and without resources. Chinese law also prohibits ill-treatment and abandonment of the disabled by family members. The disabled who cannot work or live independently have the right to require other family members to support them. The legal provider of a disabled person must fulfill his duty of supporting him.
The Chinese government and social organizations have made great
efforts in ensuring rehabilitation, education, employment,
Chinese laws prohibit discrimination, insult and injury against the handicapped or their ill-treatment and abandonment. Those who take advantage of the disability of the disabled to infringe upon their personal rights or other legitimate rights and interests and thus commit a criminal act will be punished severely according to law. Disabled violators of the criminal law will be exempted from criminal responsibility, or have their punishment mitigated or waived in full consideration of their intellectual, mental or physiological capacity in being responsible for their action. The laws also offer the disabled, especially the mentally or intellectually handicapped, who are involved in criminal, civil or administrative procedures, special protection of their procedural rights and the necessary legal assistance.
In March 1988, with approval of the Chinese government, the China
Disabled Persons' Federation was established. The federation represents the common
interests of all the disabled, protects their lawful rights and interests and mobilizes
social forces to serve them. It has established its local branches on the basis of
national administrative divisions. Federations of the disabled have been set up in all
provinces, municipalities and counties, except in Taiwan. And grass-roots associations of
the disabled have been set up in about one third of the townships, subdistricts and
factories with a concentration of disabled workers. The federations help local governments
to administer and develop undertakings for the handicapped and play an important role in
safeguarding their rights. For example, the Beijing Federation of the Disabled has in
recent years helped the government in doing five things: work out the Beijing Regulations
on the Protection of Disabled Persons; mobilize society to open nearly 100 training
courses for mentally retarded children, hearing and speech training courses for deaf
children and work-rehabilitation centers for the mentally retarded
In order to help the disabled recover or remedy their capacities and enhance their participation in social life and ability to enjoy their rights, the State Council in 1988 approved the National Program of Three Projects for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled. The government and society have poured huge human and material resources in the three rehabilitation projects: curing of cataracts, rectifying sequelae of polio, and hearing and speech training for deaf children. In the past three years 500,000 cataract operations have been performed with a success rate of 99.76 percent; 160,000 polio sequelae have been rectified with an effectiveness rate of 98.7 percent, enabling many young disabled to improve their limb functions, enter schools or take up jobs; and 10,000 deaf-mute children under seven have received speech training, with an effectiveness rate of 80 percent. Some deaf-mute children entered ordinary schools after they were rehabilitated, and some won first prizes in national children's poem recitation competitions. Every year the federation and health departments at all levels dispatch medical teams to cure cataract and polio patients in minority areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet and remote, impoverished and mountainous areas. These teams work under difficult conditions and yet their success has been remarkable.
A national network of community rehabilitation centers in both urban
and rural regions is being built. About 2,300 grass-roots community rehabilitation
China has made great efforts to develop education for the disabled by opening special classes in ordinary schools and setting up special education schools. Twenty-seven provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government, as well as 70 prefectures and cities have mapped out and implemented local education development programs for the disabled.
In the past three years various kinds of special education schools have increased annually by 20 percent, and the special classes in ordinary schools have doubled. The number of blind, deaf and mentally retarded pupils attending these special schools and classes increased by 30 percent every year. The number of disabled youth receiving higher education is constantly increasing. In the last two years about 4,700 self-taught disabled persons won college diplomas through special examinations.
The Chinese government, attaching great importance to vocational
education for the disabled, has established for them 28 vocational education centers. The
special education schools also offer professional skill training courses. The state has
set up massage medical schools for the blind in Luoyang, Xian, Nanjing and Taiyuan. Each
province and city also started courses and trained a large number of blind massage
doctors. The Shanghai Technical School for Young Deaf-Mutes offers woodwork, metalwork and
fine arts courses. Its graduates are employed in 16 provinces, autonomous regions and
municipalities directly under the central government, and many of them
The state has a preferential policy in developing education for the disabled. China's financial departments provide subsidies for special education. Apart from tuition-fees exemption and scholarships for the disabled students receiving compulsory education, there are also prizes to encourage and support self-taught disabled youths.
The Chinese government supports many welfare enterprises in which the disabled are employed. It supports them in every way, in their production, management, technology, funding, taxation and marketing. With the help of the government's preferential policy, welfare enterprises increased rapidly from 1,022 in 1979 to 42,000 in 1990. In the 1980s the number of handicapped people working in these enterprises increased by 67,000 each year, bringing the total to 750,000. Government organs and other institutions and enterprises also employ some handicapped people. At the same time, the country encourages the handicapped to open individual businesses.
At present, among the 5.18 million urban handicapped aged 16 to 59, about 2.60 million are employed. The employment rate is now at 50.19 percent. In rural areas there are about 17 million handicapped aged 16 to 59, and 10.30 million of them are engaged in raising crops or livestocks. This means that 60.55 percent of the rural handicapped have jobs.
The government's cultural departments at all levels actively organize and support cultural, sport and recreational activities of the disabled, enriching their life and guaranteeing their equal cultural rights. Today, there are in China 1,770 centers for the disabled to carry out activities such as calligraphy, painting, photography, stamp collecting, track and field, ball games, chess, art performances and quizzes. The China Sports Association for the Disabled, established in 1983, has joined seven world handicapped sports organizations. At international games China's handicapped athletes have won nearly 400 medals, and set many world records.
By means of welfare measures such as aid, relief, subsidy, provisions, insurance and special care, the government has ensured and improved the livelihood of the disabled. There are 1.4 million disabled who are unable to work and have no legal providers and living resources. In rural areas, these people are protected under the five-guarantee system -- the guarantees of food, clothing, housing, medical treatment and burial expenses -- or live in welfare homes, while in urban areas, they are provided with regular relief or collective living facilities. Throughout China there are almost 40,000 welfare facilities capable of accommodating about 80,000 handicapped people. Governments at all levels offer preferential conditions for the handicapped by reducing or exempting taxes and fees in their work, education, medical care and living, cultural and recreational expenses. Customs duties have been reduced or exempted for special goods and equipment imported for the use of the handicapped. The blind can travel by public bus, trolley, underground and ferry free of charge.
The government and the Disabled Persons' Federation have paid attention to eliminating discrimination against and prejudice toward the disabled. Great efforts have been made to create a social environment in which the disabled are respected and helped. Tens of thousands of people, under the banner of "society for the disabled and vice versa," participated in activities such as the Day of the Disabled, Helping-the-Disabled Day and Humanitarian Publicity Week. The "Young Pioneers' Helping-the-Handicapped Activities" involving more than 10 million children have been going on for the past five years. Activities such as "building families for the handicapped and being friends to them" have been widely attended. China has set May 19 of each year as the legal "national day for helping the handicapped."
China is gradually expanding the building of obstacle-free
facilities so that the handicapped can participate in social life more easily. Slope
passages and handrails have been built for
China has actively participated in the international community's efforts to secure the rights and interests of the handicapped. In 1982, when the United Nations General Assembly designated the ten year period from 1983 to 1992 as the "United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons," the Chinese government accepted its World Program of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. The China Organizational Committee of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, with the participation of 22 governmental departments and the China Disabled Persons' Federation, was formed to lead and co-ordinate the work. In 1987, upon approval by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Chinese government accepted the Convention Concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) passed by the International Labor Conference in 1983. Both the government and the organizations of the disabled in China have been praised by the United Nations and the international community for their endeavors and achievements in guaranteeing the human rights of the disabled. In 1988 UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar awarded the "Peace Messengers Award" and "Special Award" to China's organizations of the disabled.