Legal help for the disadvantaged people has become more affordable in the past five years, the Ministry of Justice said.
About 2,207 institutions have been established nationwide to provide legal services to the poor, disabled and elderly at no cost or at discounted rates.
The service is available to everyone at the provincial level, and covers more than 84 percent of the country at the municipal level, according to Duan Zhengkun, vice-minister of the Ministry of Justice.
Duan said, in the past five years, the number of full-time personnel in the legal aid field climbed to more than 7,000, half of whom are professionals with lawyer certificates.
Duan said the purpose of the legal aid is to ensure the disadvantaged know their legal rights.
"Our laws should defend the legitimate interests of every citizen indiscriminately." Duan said. "To build up democracy and enhance human rights in our country, everyone should have his or her voice heard."
He added that, based on the past few years' experience, the ministry will make more effort to offer legal services in the country's poor areas.
(China Daily October 27, 2001)