Protecting the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities in the PRC
I. Development of the Cause of Persons with Disabilities
In the 70 years since it was founded, the PRC has taken into full consideration its realities and actual conditions, and developed its own strategy for protecting the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. It has worked tirelessly to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, protect their dignity, and ensure they participate equally in the nation's politics, economy, and social and cultural life.
Equal status for persons with disabilities. After the founding of the PRC, persons with disabilities got equal status with others politically, with the same lawful rights and obligations as all other citizens. The state promulgated the Provisional Regulations on Pensions and Preferential Treatments for Service Veterans with Disabilities, giving special guarantees to disabled service veterans in terms of rehabilitation, medical treatment, and their life, education, and employment. Welfare and mental institutions were established to take in persons with severe disabilities and without family, orphans with disabilities, elderly persons with disabilities, persons with mental disabilities, and disabled servicemen. With the introduction of special education schools for children with visual and hearing impairments and speech disorders, the government included special education for persons with disabilities in the national educational system. In rural areas, eligible disabled persons without the ability to work began to be guaranteed food, clothing, housing, medical care, burial services or education by collective economic organizations. In cities, persons with disabilities were provided with jobs at welfare factories and other similar units. China explored the socialized management of the affairs of persons with disabilities, establishing the China Blind Persons' Welfare Society in 1953, the China Deaf-mutes Welfare Society in 1956, and the China Association of the Blind and Deaf in 1960. Most provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government set up local associations and community-level organizations for persons with disabilities, who began to manage their own affairs. In both urban and rural areas, more persons with disabilities got jobs; they became more involved in cultural and sports activities, and their life began to improve.
Championing the programs of persons with disabilities since reform and opening up. Since reform and opening up was initiated in 1978, the CPC and the Chinese government have introduced a series of major measures to champion the programs of persons with disabilities and improve their lives. These include: founding of the China Foundation for Disabled Persons in 1984, the first national sample survey on disability in 1987, founding of the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF) in 1988, and promulgation of the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities and the first five-year program for China's cause of these people in 1991. Entering the 21st century, as the country moved faster toward a moderately prosperous society, the cause of persons with disabilities also advanced in all respects. In 2008, the "Directives of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Promoting the Cause of Persons with Disabilities" was issued, and the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities was revised. Promoting the interests of persons with disabilities, from being part of social welfare in the form of relief in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has evolved into an encompassing network covering rehabilitation, education, employment, poverty alleviation, social security, rights protection, culture, sports, accessible environment, and disability prevention. The environment has improved for persons with disabilities to join in social life, and their political, economic, cultural and social rights are respected and guaranteed. There has been a fundamental change in the life and work of persons with disabilities, who have evolved from recipients of relief in the past to a main body involved in relevant activities, and an important force for social and economic progress. In the course of reform and development, many persons with disabilities, for example Zhang Haidi, have become role models who embody the spirit of the Chinese nation and of the times.
New progress in the cause of persons with disabilities. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as its core has given more care and attention to persons with disabilities. In 2014 and 2019 Xi met with representatives from model units for helping persons with disabilities, and with individual role models of self-reliance and hard work, pointing the direction for China's work for persons with disabilities. In 2014, in his letter to congratulate the China Foundation for Disabled Persons on its 30th anniversary, Xi said that persons with disabilities were a special group in need of extra care and attention. In 2017, in his congratulatory letter to the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Midpoint Review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, Xi said that China would continue to champion the cause of persons with disabilities, so that they could develop in an all-round way and achieve common prosperity. In 2016, during an inspection trip to Tangshan, Hebei Province, he said that in the course of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, not a single person with disabilities should be left behind. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, work related to persons with disabilities has become an important part of the Five-point Strategy (promoting economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress) and the Four-pronged Strategy (to complete a moderately prosperous society in all respects, to further reform, to advance the rule of law, and to strengthen Party discipline). The state has established a special welfare system for tens of millions of persons with disabilities, including living subsidies, nursing subsidies, and subsidies for children's rehabilitation. Persons with disabilities from poor households in rural areas, numbering in the millions, have become a focus in the final fight against poverty, and we should accurately apply policies and give them special assistance.
In the Healthy China initiative, we should pay particular attention to each individual with disabilities and make sure everyone has access to health services. Public services for persons with disabilities have been included in the national system of basic public services, and efforts will continue to provide basic public services to them, improve weaker links, and enhance service quality. As all trades and walks of life strive to eliminate barriers, more and more persons with disabilities are receiving better education, which enable them to find jobs, start businesses, and participate in social life more equally. As the whole nation works to achieve the goals of "equality, participation and sharing" for persons with disabilities, Chinese society is more readily available to care for and help them. The cause of persons with disabilities is picking up speed, and these people are enjoying a greater sense of gain, happiness, and security.