Shanghai - Raising a toast at a luncheon for foreign guests Tuesday, President Hu Jintao said he is confident the Shanghai Games will greatly enhance the global cause of people with disabilities and promote the mutual understanding and friendship among Special Olympics athletes and people of all countries.
Hu said the Special Olympic Games represents the ardent hope of people throughout the world for friendship, cooperation and peace.
"China will work with governments and people in other countries to improve the well-being of people with disabilities and contribute to the building of a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity."
Timothy Shriver, chairman of the board of Special Olympics, echoed Hu, saying Tuesday marked the beginning not just for the Games but also for a lifetime of efforts to build a more just world.
"What we will start will lead to a legacy of change in China and around the world. We will not rest until every child can go to school, every child grows up to fulfill their potential and every community includes each citizen who wants to contribute," he said.
Prior to the banquet, President Hu held a separate meeting with Shriver and his mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder and honorary chairwoman of the Special Olympics.
Hu said Special Olympics advocates equality and inclusion, encourages people with mental disabilities to realize their potential and gives them a chance to be productive citizens and share the fruits of human civilization.
As this is the first time the Special Olympics World Summer Games is being held in China, Asia and the developing world, President Hu said it could deeply promote the Chinese Special Olympics movement and help the world know more about the country.
China has 83 million handicapped people, among whom over 10 million have mental disabilities.
Over the past 20 years, the Special Olympics China program has grown rapidly, with over 500,000 athletes in 2005.
Hu said China has adopted a series of major measures to enhance the interests and rights of the handicapped and signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year.
"We will take the opportunity of holding the Special Olympics to speed up the development of the cause of people with disabilities to help them better participate in and enjoy the social and economic fruits," Hu said.
Shriver said he has seen China's determination and efforts through Hu's visit to a training center for the mentally disabled in the country's largest city on the National Day.
"The visit is a great show of support to the Special Olympics movement and set a good example to the world," he said.