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
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 worked
out specific policies, rules and regulations to protect the rights
and interests of the disabled, for example, the China Five-Year
Work Program for People with Disability, the Several Viewpoints
on Developing the Education for People with Disability, the Program
for the Implementation of Three Rehabilitation Projects for People
with Disability, the Circular on Tax Exemption for Private Business
Run by Disabled People and the Circular on Tax Exemption for Social
Welfare Production Units. Authorities in some provinces, municipalities
directly under the central government and autonomous regions have
worked out local laws and regulations to safeguard the right and
interests of the disabled. Many local governments have adopted concrete
measures to provide the disabled with preferential assistance, treatment
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, cultural
life, welfare and a good environment for the disabled.
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
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
and establish a community rehabilitation network of several levels;
set up one school for the blind, four schools for deaf-mutes and
six schools for mentally retarded children; find jobs for the urban
disabled, raising their employment rate to 90 percent; and conduct
a general survey and registration of five kinds of disabled persons
in Beijing, building files, finding out the causes of child disability
and recommending preventive measures. The country's unified organization
of the disabled has played an important role in developing services
for the disabled and has achieved great successes.
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 centers, 750 handicapped-children's care
centers and training classes, and 1,300 work-rehabilitation centers
for the mentally and intellectually handicapped have appeared in
cities and towns. The 16 neighborhood offices of the Shenhe District
in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, have established handicapped children's
pre-school education and care centers, along with a variety of disabled
service programs for training, rehabilitation, welfare, match-making
and social security funds.
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
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 have become
engineers or assistant engineers.
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 the convenience
of the handicapped on streets and in shops, hotels, theaters, libraries,
airports and other public places in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai,
Shenyang and Guangzhou.
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.