China Tuesday urged Asian-Pacific countries to provide more opportunities for disabled people to participate fully in social life and keep the momentum to promote the rights and well-being of the handicapped.
"The new century has brought a good chance for people with disabilities in the region to improve their conditions, but we should also recognize clearly that the disabled people in the region still face severe challenges ahead, especially the barrier in their social participation," Sun Zhonghua, a top advisor to the China Disabled Persons Federation said in a speech at the opening ceremony of the Campaign 2000 for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons 1993-2002 which was held in Bangkok.
The five-day meeting, the eighth in a series of the Asia-Pacific forum for the handicapped, is attended by more than 1,000 representatives of disabled persons and officials of governments and concerned organizations from some 20 countries in the region.
As the Asia-Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, a regional social development scheme for the disabled people, started in 1993, is nearing its conclusion, Sun stressed, the governments and concerned organizations should continue their efforts in the long run and integrate their programs for the disabled into the national economic and social blueprints.
He said that as a major initiator of the regional scheme, China is suggesting that the United Nations formulate an international convention on the rights of the handicapped, who account for one-tenth of the world population.
"The proposal is gaining understanding and support from more and more countries," he said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese expert for disabled people said that during the past eight years of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, his country has taken a series of actions suitable for the national conditions to promote the welfare and rights of the handicapped.
"We now have new plans in accord with the new century, to promote the programs for disabled persons along with the development of the whole country," he said.
During the conference, participants will review the implementation of the 10-year regional scheme while exchanging ideas and raising proposals for the future development of the programs for disabled people.
The meeting is co-sponsored by the Thai government and the Bangkok-based UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.