VI. Participation in Social Development

The state values and cherishes senior citizens for their knowledge, experience and skills, and respects them for their good ethical values. It thus makes vigorous efforts to create conditions for senior citizens to bring into full play their expertise and capability, and gives them encouragement and support to integrate into society and continue to make contributions to the social development of China.

The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Elderly People has a special chapter on protecting the rights and interests of elderly people to participate in social development. China has issued a development plan for elderly people that includes, as an important component, the encouragement of elderly people to participate in social development, and has made special policies to bring into full play the expertise of retired scholars and professionals.

In urban areas, governments at all levels guide senior citizens to participate in the fields of education and training, technological consultation, medical and health work, scientific and technological development and application, and care for the younger generation, in accordance with the demands of economic, social, scientific and technological development.

In rural areas, governments encourage people in their 60s to engage in farming, aquaculture and processing activities. Statistics show that among the elderly people of China, in urban areas 38.7 percent participate in public welfare activities, and 5.2 percent still have paid work; in rural areas, 36.4 percent are engaged in farming.

In 2003, the Chinese government started to organize the Silver Hair Action program, aimed at enabling senior intellectuals to apply their scientific and technological knowledge and expertise to aid the western regions and other under-developed areas in their localities. So far, senior citizens involved in the Action program have treated over 200,000 patients and trained 38,000 medical personnel and primary and middle school teachers in 24 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government.

And a volunteer program named Loving Care for Helping the Growth of the Young is being carried out around the country. Volunteers from among healthy people in their 60s, through the Moral Education Action, Publicity Action, Inspection Action, Protecting Children Action and Caring Action programs, are helping teenagers to solve study, life and psychological problems. These programs have already been launched in over 100 cities nationwide.

Under the guidance and with the support of the government, 13 national associations for senior citizens have sprung up, including the China Senior Professors Association, Association of Senior Scientists and Technicians and Association of Senior Lawyers, branches of which have appeared all over China. The membership of China Senior Professors Association and Association of Senior Scientists and Technicians together exceed 650,000.

In local areas, societies with senior intellectuals as the mainstay have been founded, such as the Association of Retired Engineers, Association of Senior Teaching Staff and Association of Retired Medical Workers, which help their members to continue to make contributions to the social and economic development of China. Local governments attach importance to the building of grassroots senior organizations in urban and rural areas.

By the end of 2005, China had 317,000 such associations in both urban and rural areas, playing an active role in organizing large numbers of elderly people to take part in grassroots community construction and public welfare activities, and safeguarding the rights and interests of elderly people.

In recent years, the state has promulgated the Design Codes for Accessibility of Urban Roads and Buildings, and formulated the Tenth Five-Year Plan on Constructing Barrier-Free Facilities, and a number of similar regulations such as Standards for Barrier-Free Facilities and Equipment in Civil Airport Passenger Terminal Areas, Design Codes for Accessibility of Railway Stations and Junctions, Design Codes for Construction of Railway Stations for Passengers, Design Codes for Equipment Used for Passenger and Freight Transport at Railway Stations and Premises.

Construction of barrier-free facilities on roads, in stations, airports, shops, at bus stops, in residential areas and other public buildings in large and medium cities have been developing rapidly, creating convenience for senior citizens in their daily lives and enabling them to engage more fully in social activities. A campaign to build demonstration cities/districts of barrier-free facilities is being carried out around the country, and 12 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, have been listed among the first to build such bases.