Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views • Issue no. 28 January 2007

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The Protection of Rights of People with Disabilities in China

By Eric Zhang1

China2 is the largest developing country in the world. During the past two decades, concurrent with the country's rapid economic growth and social development,3 and as a result of a series of positive legislative and administrative actions and the work of disability organizations, the general living conditions and overall social status of people with disabilities in the country has improved remarkably. However, people with disabilities remain a vulnerable group and many still encounter specific difficulties in a society whose economy is experiencing a tremendous market-oriented transition. Much remains to be done in order to ensure the full realization of "Equality, Participation and Sharing" for people with disabilities.4


Before early 1980s, discriminatory terms such as "can fei," which means "the handicapped and useless", were used to refer to individuals with disabilities. However, general social attitudes regarding disability have undergone a gradual but fundamental change since late 1980s, thanks to the active advocacy of the disability community and governmental support for disability initiatives. Today, "can ji ren", which means "persons with disabilities" or "disabled persons," is commonly used both in official documentation and by the general public.

Definition of disability

Most domestic laws and policies use the definition of disability in the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons,5 promulgated in 1990. According to the Law, "a disabled person refers to one who suffers from abnormalities of loss of a certain organ or function, psychologically or physiologically, or in anatomical structure and has lost wholly or in part the ability to perform an activity in the way considered normal."6 The Law adds that "the term disabled persons refers to those with visual, hearing, speech or physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, multiple disabilities and/or other disabilities" and "the criteria for classification of disabilities shall be established by the State Council, the cabinet of China's central government."7

This definition and related policies and standards on disabilities were deeply influenced by the medical-social models popular in the 1980s, in particular the United Nations' World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons8 and WHO's International Classification of Impairment, Disability and Handicap (IC-IDH). The definition however is under review by the Government.

Estimates of disability population

Most of available statistical data on disability is based on outcome of the First National Sampling Survey on Disability in 1987. The Survey was jointly conducted by governmental departments and non-governmental organizations such as China Fund for the Handicapped and China Association of the Blind and the Deaf. The Survey found that, out of 369,816 interviewed households in 424 cities, 77,345 people or 4.90% of the sampled population, had a disability.9

Based on this result of 1987 National Survey and the rate of general population growth, the current number of people with disabilities is estimated to be 60 million, or 5% of the total population.10 Of these 60 million, 20.57 million have hearing impairments, 11.82 million have intellectual disabilities, 8.77 million have a physical disability, 8.77 million have visual disabilities, 2.25 million have psychiatric disabilities and 7.82 million have multiple disabilities.

According to another survey on children with disabilities under age of six- a project jointly conducted in 2001 by Ministry of Health, State Statistics Bureau, China Disabled Persons' Federation and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)11, asphyxia at birth, cerebral palsy, medicine mistakes and autism were found the leading causes of disability among sampled children with disabilities.12

The Government recently began its 2nd National Sampling Survey on Disability to collect updated statistical data that will facilitate better planning and programming in the future.13 The 2nd Sampling Survey is expected to complete around 2007.

Disability Legislation

International Protections

China is a State Party to some 20 international human rights treaties. It joined a few of countries launching the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, and also supported the actions of its extension, namely the second Decade. China supports actively the UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the ongoing UN efforts to draft an international convention on the rights of people with disabilities.14 It has ratified ILO Convention 159 Concerning Vocational Training and Employment (Disabled Persons).

Domestic Legal Framework

The Constitution (enacted in 1982 and amended in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004) provides a general principle on protection of people with disabilities. Article 45 establishes that "all citizens … have the right to material assistance from the state and society when they are old, ill or disabled. The state develops the social insurance, social relief and medical and health services that are required to enable citizens to enjoy this right…"15

In addition, more than 30 national laws contain specific provisions concerning people with disabilities and the protection of their rights, including the Election Law, the Civil Law, the Civil Procedure Law, the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Law of Education, the Law on Higher Education, the Labor Law, the Marriage Law, the Law on the Protection of Rights of Women, the Law on the Protection on Rights of Elderly People, the Law on Inheritance, the Adoption Law, the Insurance Law, and so on.

The Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons (adopted in 1990 and enacted in 1991) is of significant importance to the protection of the rights of people with disabilities. It contains 54 articles and 9 chapters that address rehabilitation, education, employment, cultural life, welfare, access, legal liability, etc.16 More than 10 million copies in Chinese, seven ethnic minority languages, and Braille were circulated nationwide through governmental channels and the network of disabled peoples' organizations, to raise public awareness on disability and rights of people with disabilities.17

Article 3 of the Law sets a principle of anti-discrimination that stipulates:

"disabled persons are entitled to enjoyment of equal rights as other citizens in political, economic, cultural and social fields, in family life and other aspects. The rights of disabled persons as citizens and their personal dignity are protected by law. Discrimination against, insult of and infringement upon disabled persons is prohibited."18

A large part of the Law is dedicated to articulating various positive measures to accommodate the special needs of people with disabilities in all aspects of their life, including rehabilitation, education, employment and welfare.

The Law has some unique features. For example, Article 46 of Chapter 7 deals with environment and establishes that "the State and society shall gradually create a sound environment to improve the conditions for disabled persons to participate in social life"19 and sets requirements for an accessible physical environment, i.e., accessible public roads and buildings. Accessible information and communication, such as Braille and sign language, and the right to mobility (transportation) are discussed separately in Article 38, on Cultural life, and Article 44, on Welfare. Chapter 7 also refers to Articles 47and 48 to promote a culture and ethic of respect for people with disabilities and concludes by declaring the third Sunday of each May as the National Day for Assisting Disabled Persons.20

The Law also establishes general provisions for enforcement. Articles 49 through 52 list some types of rights violations and their repercussions, and make reference to applicable civil or criminal laws and administrative procedures. Article 52 states that "whoever, by violence or other means, publicly assaults disabled persons, shall be investigated for criminal responsibility, if the circumstances are serious, in accordance with the provisions of Article 145 of the Criminal Law…"21 and Articles 53 and 54 oblige governmental departments and local legislative congresses to take concrete actions to implement the Law.

By 2003, all 30 provincial congresses issued local disability regulations. Local authorities now take more initiatives in producing supplementary policies. For example, in western China's Yunan Province, there are By-laws on Implementation of the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons that the provincial congress adopted in 1995. The local government in Yunan province also issued Regulations on Preferential Treatments for Disabled Persons in Yunan Province on 14 June 2001, which grants additional supplementary preferential policies for people with disabilities."22

Although extensive disability legislation exists, more legislative effort is needed to enhance legal protections for people with disabilities. The Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons is of historical importance, yet its enforceability has received increasing attention and criticism in recent years.

Critics complained about the Law of Protection for its uncertainty of applicable rights. Some provisions fail to establish protection for individuals in plain language and therefore may require further elaboration or interpretation. For example, though the Law states "discrimination against, insult of and infringement upon disabled persons shall be prohibited,"23 it is not clear what type of act or non-act constitutes discrimination against or violation of the rights of people with disabilities. Likewise, although the current provisions establish some general principles on penalties for violation, they do not clearly define what recourse and remedies may be available for a victim of discrimination or rights violation. Moreover, the extent of enforcement of the Law often relies on local initiatives, which vary from place to place.

The Government is reportedly taking actions to review its disability legislation and policies, including the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, and continuing its efforts to formulate more specific regulations on the promotion of rights enshrined in the Constitution.



Article 18 of the Law on Protection of Disabled Persons establishes that "the State guarantees the right to education for disabled persons… and provide[s] compulsory education for children and youth with disabilities… and the State charges no tuition for those disabled students receiving compulsory education."24 Some laws, such as the Law of Education, the Law of Vocational Education, and the Law of Higher Education, contain special provisions for people with disabilities. For example, the Law of Education stipulates that "the State supports and develops the undertaking of education for persons with disabilities," and that "the State, society, schools and other educational institutes shall provide education to persons with disabilities according to their physical and psychological characters and needs and give them assistance and convenience."25 The Regulation on Education of Disabled Persons also promotes education for people with disabilities.26

A mixed system of integrated education and special education has increased the educational opportunities of people with disabilities. The China Disabled Persons' Federation reported that in 2000 the overall enrollment rate of school-aged students who were deaf, blind, or intellectually impaired was about 77%,27 which was lower than the national enrollment average of school-aged children without disabilities.28 In 2003, there were still 323,000 school-aged children with disabilities that did not have any access to education, due to such factors as families' poverty.29 Through the initiatives such as "Project Hope" and "Spring Drizzle," efforts are taken to help children who have dropped out, including boys and girls with disabilities, to return schooling.30

Many mainstream institutions accept people with disabilities, while special education is also available, primarily for learners who are blind, deaf or have severe intellectual disabilities, although some such students may choose to study in a mainstream surrounding.31 According to the Ministry of Education, in 2003 there were 1,551 registered special schools that enrolled 365,000 students with disabilities.32 Overall, 66.23% of students with special learning needs were studying in mainstream schools or/and classes affiliated with mainstream schools.33

According to the Law on Higher Education,34 no institution shall reject any student on the basis of his or her disability. Yet, some students with disabilities still experienced implicit barriers such as the physical examination requirements of some universities. Such requirements were recently lifted by Ministry of Education in order to give effect to equal educational opportunities for students with special needs. In 2003, there were 3,072 disabled students enrolled in universities and 827 others in special higher institutions.35 The lack of accessible conditions and reasonable accommodations on campuses remains barriers for people with disabilities. However, as shown in the case of Wang Wei vs. Henan Pingdinshang City Finance and Trade Institute,36 the judge ruled that eligible student candidates like Wang, who has polio, could not be rejected by the Institute on such grounds as a lack of accessible computer labs, thereby declaring it the responsibility of the relevant institution, to the best of their ability, to provide people with disabilities equal opportunities for and access to education.

The State promotes and provides vocational education and training for people with disabilities.37 In 2003, there were more than 3,000 vocational institutes that provided training for more than 490,000 people with disabilities throughout the country, including those in rural areas.38


Approximately 83.9 % of people with disabilities were reported to be employed in 2003,39 which was likely lower than that of other groups. Statistics showed that in 2002, some 302,000 people with disabilities in urban areas and 17,178,000 in rural areas were employed, while the unemployed populations of people with disabilities in urban and rural areas were 1,032,000 and 3,337,300 respectively.40 Compared to the figures from 1987,41 when only 50.19% of people with disabilities in urban areas and 60.55% in rural areas were employed, the situation has improved greatly.

In China, the right to work is guaranteed by the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons,42 which states that "no discrimination shall be practiced against disabled persons in employment, engagement, status regularization, promotion, determining technical or professional titles, payroll for labor, welfare, labor insurance or in other aspects."43 Correspondingly, employers like state-run welfare enterprises should not deny people with disabilities employment.44

The Government has established a quota system45 that requires all public and private employers to reserve no less than 1.5% of job opportunities for persons with disabilities, in accordance with specific regulations established by local provincial governments.46 Those who fail to meet the required quota must pay a fee to the Disabled Persons' Employment Security Fund, which in turn supports vocational training and job-placement services for people with disabilities. The taxation authorities and disabled peoples' organizations are involved in the process of monitoring.

Through initiatives such as tax incentives and financial, technical and other resource assistance, the Government supports welfare enterprises that recruit employees with disabilities and encourages people with disabilities to engage in self-employment.

In addition, to enhance the employment prospects and opportunities of people with disabilities, more than 3,000 employment service centers are now in operation.47 These centers were established with financial support from the Government and local communities, and provide services ranging from practical job-oriented vocational training (including IT, sewing, and domestic animal raising skills) to employment matching and consultation for people with disabilities seeking jobs.


Articles 37, 38 and 45 of the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons guarantee access to information and communication for people with disabilities. In accordance with the Law,48 the Government has included goals for accessible information and communication in the latest national development program.49 Progress has been uneven. The situation in coastal regions and major cities is encouraging. For example, in Shanghai, most local TV programs are broadcast in alternative formats, i.e., with subtitles or in sign language. In contrast, in many other parts of the country, accessible communication is still a new and underdeveloped concept and should be promoted further.

A standardized national sign language has been developed. The China Braille Publishing House and other publishers produce Braille and audio reading materials, including Braille versions of China's Constitution and other major laws.50 However, due to limited resources, there is still a large gap between supply and demand. Braille and talking materials are often available only in libraries and activities centers in major cities and towns.

In economically developed regions, there are a number of newspapers that are popular among the disability community and are run by and for people with disabilities, such as the Chinese Times in Beijing. There are also some disability-specific journals and newsletters that enjoy local and national audiences, such as China Disability, a monthly magazine. Blind People in China, another monthly magazine, is printed in Braille, tailored to the blind, and circulated nationwide. By law,51 reading materials for the blind may be shipped free of charge through the public mail system.

The Criminal Procedure Law requires that personal and/or legal assistance, including sign language services, be provided to people with disabilities in cases of emergency, and in legal circumstances, such as court or public hearings.52 These services are available, but sometimes are not sufficient to meet demand.

Due to the advocacy and promotional activities of disabled peoples' organizations, efforts have been made, in recent years, to develop high-tech devices that accommodate the needs of people with disabilities. User-friendly pagers, mobiles phones and internet-based communication technologies and services have been developed for people who are blind or deaf.53 There are also websites such as Chinese Deaf Online that have become popular among deaf youth.54 However, these new services are rather expensive and so far have benefited only small groups of young people with disabilities living in cities. Many people with sensory difficulties still face communication barriers.

Health Services

China's health care system is currently undergoing critical transition, as the previous system of "medical care at public expense" is being gradually replaced by a fairly market-oriented "social basic medical insurance"55 system based on financial responsibility that is shared jointly by individuals, their employers, and the State. With this general background, people with disabilities access health services on an equal basis with others,56 though appropriate services, especially rehabilitation services, might not be available at all for quite a number of persons.

The Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, however, does attach great importance to rehabilitation,57 and the Government has included rehabilitation in national economic and social development programs. The Government has developed and supported urgently needed rehabilitation programs that aim to mainstream and facilitate the participation of people with disabilities in society. These programs include sight-restoring cataract surgery, low-vision training, speech training for hearing-impaired children, corrective surgery for people with physical disabilities, and provision of assistive devices. From 1996 to 2000, about 4.33 million people with disabilities received rehabilitation services.58 Services were delivered through key rehabilitation centers as well as Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) initiatives. CBR aims to improve the physical functioning and independent living skills of people with disabilities in order to facilitate their participation in social life and their communities and is an important part of rehabilitation efforts in China. According to the ongoing "National Programme on Disability in Tenth Five-Year Plan Period," some 5.1 million people with disabilities will receive rehabilitation services delivered through the joint efforts of governments and communities from 2001 to 2005.59

In response to the many people with disabilities, especially those in poverty-stricken rural regions, who could not afford rehabilitation services, the Government and NGOs collaborated on some programs such as "Rehabilitation for All among Leprosy-disabled Persons" and "Helping the Hearing-Impaired by Donating Hearing-Aids," which have helped over one million people. With support from commercial banks, the Government also established a project called "Rehabilitation for Poverty Reduction among Persons with Disabilities." In the 5-year period from 1996 to 2000, the project received 2,210,148,000 RMB yuan of earmarked funds to help people with disabilities in poverty. For 2003, some 650 million RMB Yuan were earmarked for the project.60


Although the Constitution establishes that "all citizens … have the right to material assistance from the state and society when they are old, ill or disabled,"61 no separate legal instrument specifically addresses the issue of housing for people with disabilities.

In general, people with disabilities have the right to housing on an equal basis with others. Although some may own their own homes and some are entitled to equal access to public housing programs, such as the Affordable Housing Program and the Comfort Housing Program, most people with disabilities are believed to live with their families and care-givers, as families usually play an important role in caring for and supporting members with disabilities.

About 10 million, or approximately 17% of people with disabilities remain living in poverty,62 mostly in remote rural areas. Approximately 140,000 families with members with a disability do not have suitable housing, and another 60,000 families live in housing with poor-conditions that urgently need renovation. In response to this situation, the Government is currently working with local partners on a program called "Helping Poor Disabled Persons in Renovating Housing." The project is receives funds from the Central Government, local governments, and other sources, while disabled peoples' organizations and local communities contribute technical assistance and manpower to disabled peoples' households in need. The program began in 2003 and has benefited many people with disabilities.63


Both the Government and organizations of people with disabilities recognize the importance of accessibility to the full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities. As required by the Law on Protection of Disabled Persons and other policies, the State and society should take positive actions to promote and build accessible physical, information and communication environments.64

Codes for Design on Accessibility of Urban Roads and Buildings (JGJ 50-2001) is the most influential national accessibility policy.65 The Codes were issued by the Ministry of Construction in June 2001 and were formulated based on a document issued in 1988.66 The Codes apply to all urban roads, built environments, and relevant facilities for public usage, residence, office space, business, services, cultural activities, education, sports activities and workplaces, both newly built and renovated. Most of the codes (24) are now compulsory.67

The Codes are supported by the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, which requires that the Government gradually take barrier-free measures to realize the Codes.68

There has been progress in improving accessibility, though implementation has not been satisfactory in all regions. Problems include limited awareness of accessibility needs, shortage of technical and financial resources, and the relative lack of local economic and social development in many regions. Although large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, and Qingdao have made the most progress, 133 other cities and provinces have established government task forces to promote accessible construction and 147 cities have adopted local implementation regulations.69 Some regions, including Beijing, have even promulgated local by-laws on accessibility.70 However, accessible environments and facilities remain unavailable in many localities, prompting the Government to call for more action in small towns and rural areas, to progressively improve accessibility.71

The accessibility of inner-city transportation has improved rather quickly in big cities. For example, accessible bus lines began operation in Beijing in November 200472 and city authorities promised more accessible bus and subway lines in coming years. Likewise, in southern China's Shenzhen city, the newly constructed subway system that began operation in the end of 2004 is completely accessible.73 Most major airports are now accessible, and the Ministry of Railways is developing new by-laws on accessibility for railway areas.

Access to information and communication for persons with disabilities is guaranteed by law.74 In October 2004, the Government, civil society, and disabled peoples' organizations sponsored an Information Accessibility Seminar attended by delegates and experts from the Ministry of Information Industry, the Ministry of Sciences and Technology, the China Disabled Persons' Federation, the China Blind Association, and more than 30 media and about 20 locally and internationally renowned corporations, such as Microsoft, IBM, Nokia, Motorola, Siemens and SONY. Participants discussed how to create an accessible information environment for people with sensory disabilities through legislation and the use of accessible technologies such as programming, web design, and communication format adaptation.

Culture, Sports and Recreation

According to the Law on Protection of Disabled Persons, the needs of people with disabilities should be integrated in the mainstream cultural arena, to promote their full participation in society.75

Public cultural facilities, such as libraries, museums, art galleries, public parks, and sports venues are open to and shall make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.76 Depending on the policies of local authorities, admittance to such activities may be available free of charge.77 In some cities, there are community-based cultural and recreation facilities, although some may be used infrequently by people with disabilities due to a lack of accessible local transportation. The China Disabled People's Performing Arts Troupe is one of 131 arts troupes of people with disabilities in the country.78 In recent years, it has toured through dozens of cities in China and throughout the world, portraying positively and demonstrating the special arts talents of people with disabilities.79

Every four years, there is a national sports competition for people with disabilities, which attracts thousands of athletes from every part of the country. In recent years, Chinese athletes with disabilities also have been active in the international arena, particularly in world championships such as the Paralympic Games and other international and regional sports tournaments. China also will host the upcoming 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing,80 and the 2007 Special Olympic World Games in Shanghai.81

Civic Participation

People with disabilities as a group are exhibiting increased political awareness and participation. In 2003, more than 3,200 persons with various types of disabilities and their relatives were elected as deputies of the National People's Congress and local people's congresses and as members of the National People's Political Consultative Conference and its local bodies above county levels, hence increasing the voice and influence of people with disabilities in legislative and policy-making processes.82

Despite significant progress, many challenges and difficulties remain. Due to lack of awareness and resources, accessibility is uneven among different regions; it has progressed rapidly in big cities, but needs further promotion in the countryside and in small towns. Although architectural and communication barriers have been substantially reduced in major cities, they are still prevalent. There are no statistical data on how many polling booths are accessible, and the high illiteracy rate among adults with disabilities remains a real barrier to civic participation.

Another considerable challenge that millions of people with disabilities face is overcoming economic hardship and achieving adequate living conditions. Though ten million people with disabilities have successfully got rid of poverty through inclusive development and poverty alleviation programs in the last 10 years or so, further inclusion for people with disabilities is still one of the top priorities of the Government and NGOs.83

Disability Awareness & Actions

The State Council Coordination Committee on Disability (SCCCD) is the national coordinating body for disability policy within the Government. It was initially set up in the 1980s, as the China Coordination Committee for Celebrating UN Decade of Disabled Persons. The Coordination Committee is currently chaired by a Vice Premier, and has members from 36 governmental departments and ministries in the fields of health, civil affairs, education, labor, and social security, as well as a national organization of people with disabilities. The main responsibilities of the SCCCD are to formulate and monitor the implementation of key disability policies, strategies and programs; resolve major issues concerning disability; and coordinate the actions of different governmental departments.84 The SCCCD has played a significant role in drafting disability-specific laws and policies, and in particular, the Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons and four consecutive national development programs for disability. Every five years since the 1980s, these national programs have set goals and medium-range objectives for the disability-related activities of various governmental departments and local authorities, obliging them to take positive measures and actions, such as providing rehabilitation and education services, promoting accessible conditions, and supporting access to sports, culture and artistic activities for people with disabilities. Each year, the SCCCD and its local bodies in provincial, city and county level governments throughout the country coordinate major events, such as the observance of the National Day of Assisting Disabled Persons, on the third Sunday of May.

China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF) is a national umbrella organization of and for people with various types of disabilities. CDPF and its associated local federations are playing an important and unprecedented role in advocating and protecting the rights of people with disabilities, and participating in policy-making process that affect or concern people with disabilities. In close collaboration with other departments and civic organizations, the CDPF also provides assistive devices and rehabilitation, education, and employment services to people with disabilities. The CDPF receives resources support from the Government, charitable donations, and fund-raising activities. In December 2003, Mr. Deng Pufang, Chairman of China Disabled Persons' Federation, received the United Nations Award in the Field of Human Rights in recognition of his "outstanding contribution to the undertakings of human rights".85

With the support of the CDPF, there are some 38,000 grassroots associations of people with disabilities that are active throughout the country, at the community and village levels, and provide various types of practical assistance and services for citizens with disabilities in their communities.


1 The author is current RI (Rehabilitation International) China National Secretary. He has a rich experience working in the field of social development and policy in a number of governmental departments and NGOs of and for persons with disabilities. Graduated from universities in Shanghai and Nanjing, he holds degrees in social sciences. The author may be contacted at ericzgz@yahoo.com.cn.

2 For technical reasons, this report was written based upon the knowledge of the situation and relevant data about persons with disabilities in mainland China.

3 According to United Nations, China's Human Development Index (HDI) was 0.522 in 1975 and the figure rose up to 0.74 in 2002. In terms of world ranking, China's HDI ranking was 111th (among 174 countries) in 1992 and it rose to 94th (of 177 countries) in 2002. See UNDP website at: http://hdr.undp.org/reports.

4 Zhong Canyan, "Human Rights Protection and China's Undertakings for Persons with Disabilities", (Beijing, People's Daily, April 29, 2004), http://www.ccyl.org.cn/study_think/file/xxysk20040429.htm

5 Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons, adopted and promulgated by the National People's Congress on December 28 1990 and came into force from May 15 1991.Official text in Chinese. See http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=562; For a working English translation, see Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons,( Beijing, Huaxia Publishing House, 1998) or http://www.cdpf.org.cn/english/info_01.htm

6 Id., Article 2, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons (Beijing, Huaxia Publishing House, 1998).

7 The State Council has so far not yet developed any official criteria for classification of disabilities, however. Currently, there are some different criteria set and used by different departments for various purposes, such as insurance, sports injury, pension for invalid veterans and criminal assessment and so on. One of the most influential criteria was developed and approved by State Council for the first national sampling survey on disability. See "A Practical Standards for Disability Assessment ( for trial implementation)" issued by China Disabled Persons' Federation, at website http://www.fmed.net/main/case/standard/criterion/200406/158.html

8 United Nations, Refer to Part C. "Definition", Chapter 1, World Programme of Actions Concerning Disabled Persons, 1982

9 "Brief Introduction of 1987 National Sampling Survey on Disability", see www.cdpf.org.cn/shiye/sj-000b.htm

10 State Statistics Bureau, " Basic information of people with disabilities", in China Statistical Yearbook 2003, (Beijing, China Statistics Press, 2004), 850.

11 The survey covered 60,124 children out of 17,609,000 investigated citizens in 7 provinces and screened out 1,847 suspected and 819 diagnosed disabled children, or accounting 1.362% of total children population. See report by Yao Yongmei, "An interview with UNICEF official on current situation of disabled children and their rehabilitation and education", http://www.cautism.com/2004/8-31/235540.html

12 " Main result of the sampling survey on disability in 0-6 year-old children in China in 2001", by Ministry of Health, State Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Public Security, CDPF and UNICEF." The original report text in Chinese, see http://www.qltj.net/qltj/tjxw/tjxw/xw1179.htm.

13 For the 2nd National sampling survey, a national office was already established, with members from 15 ministries, departments and civil organizations. See "Notification of the General Office of the State Council on Conducting the Second National Sampling Survey on Disability (guobanfa [2004] 73), September 30 2004. hppt://www.fujian.gov.cn: 8080/gazette.

14 China took a number of initiatives including, for instance, organizing World Disability NGO Summit (Beijing, March 2000) and China/UN ESCAP Asian and Pacific Regional Meeting on International Convention (November 2003) to call on support for the international and regional efforts for drafting an international convention on rights or persons with disabilities. For details, see http://www.worldenable.net/beijing2003/

15 Article 45 also sets that "the state and society help make arrangements for the work, livelihood and education of the blind, deaf-mute and other handicapped citizens", Constitutions of People's Republic of China (promulgated in 1982 and amended in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004), see a working English version at http://www.constitution.org/cons/china.txt

16 Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons adopted and promulgated by the National People's Congress on December 28 1990 and came into force from May 15, 1991.Official text in Chinese. See http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=562

17 The Law was widely publicized due to the inclusion into the " The Second Legal Education Campaign for Five-Year Plan Period", according to " A Review on the Undertakings for Persons with Disability", at http://www.cdpf.org.cn/nj/b1a001/index.html

18 Article 3, Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons.

19 Id., Article 45, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, (Beijing, Huaxia Publishing House,1998).

20 Ibid

21 Article 145 of the Criminal Law states that the above-mentioned insults against another person publicly "shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention or deprivation of political rights."

22 For instance, Article 17 stipulates that " disabled persons may visit free of charge to museums, palaces of sciences and technology, arts galleries, exhibition palaces, sports stadiums, cultural centers, libraries, public parks, zoos and scenic spots, on a certificate of disabled person...". See Article 17 & 18, " Regulations on Preferential Treatments for Disabled Persons in Yunan Province" (adopted on June 14, 2001 and enacted from Feb. 1, 2002), see http://www.cdpf.org.cn/zhengce/df-009.htm

23 Article 3, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, (Beijing, Huaxia Publishing House, 1998)

24 Article 18, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons

25 Para.3, Article 10 and Article 38, Law of People's Republic of China on Education [(enacted in 1995)]. See http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=11220

26 Regulations on Education of Disabled Persons, promulgated as State Council Decree 161, on August 13, 1994. See a Chinese version at website of Ministry of Education at http://www.moe.edu.cn/jyfg/laws/cjr.htm

27 "Situation of education for disabled persons", Page 5, "Implementation Outcome of the Ninth Five-Year Work Programme on Disabilities (1996-2000)", an internal report by CDPF, Beijing, April 2001

28 The national averaged enrollment rate of compulsory-schooling-aged children was 99.1% in 2000, China Statistical Yearbook 2004, (Beijing, China Statistics Press, 2004), 724.

29 "Basic information of people with disabilities", China Statistical Yearbook 2003, (Beijing, China Statistics Press 2004)

30 Right to Education, page 22-23, Spring Breezes (monthly), Beijing, ISSN 1003-109 Issue No.1, 2005

31 Quite a lot of physical disabled and some intellectual disabled students may have not been counted by authority as disabled students, as they normally study in mainstream schools.

32 Compared to the figures in 1990, there were 746 special schools and 72,000 students. Table 75. Basic Information on Education, in China Development Report 2004, (Beijing, China Statistics Press, 2004),338.

33 "China's Education and technology development in 2003", from China Development Report 2004, (Beijing, China Statistics Press, 2004); but a different source reported, in 2003, there were 1,655 special schools and 3,154 special classes affiliated to mainstream schools with 577,000 enrolled students with visual, hearing and intellectual impairments. " Statistic Report of the Development of the Undertakings for Disabled Persons in China in 2003" (canliangfa (2004) 10. See http://www.cdpf.org.cn/shiye/sj-03.htm

34 "Higher educational institutions must accept the enrollment of disabled students accorded with entrance standards set by the State and shall not refuse them based on their disability." Article 9, para.3, The Law of People's Republic of China on Higher Education ( promulgated in 1998 and enacted in 1999), see http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=412

35 China Development Report 2004, 158; According to another report, 93.93% of eligible disabled students were accepted by and enrolled in universities in the previous years from 1996 to 2000, see page 47, 2004 Statistics Yearbook on the Undertakings of People with Disabilities in China, an internal report by CDPF Information Center, Beijing, 2004.

36 Zhen Guishen and others, A Handbook of the Rights-Protection Laws on Disabled Persons, (Beijing, China Procurator Press, ISBN 7-80086-926-1, Beijing (2002), 489.

37 For example, Article 7 stipulates "The State takes measures to …support the development of vocational education for persons with disabilities." Article 15 requires "all kinds of vocational educational schools and training providers shall accept disabled students in line with relevant provisions of the state." Article 32 further requires that these schools and training providers "shall grant fees exemption or reduction for students in economic difficulties and those with disabilities, based on their situation". See Law of the People's Republic of China on Vocational Education ( enacted from September 1996), http://www.law-lib.com/law/law_view.asp?id=3636

38 China Development Report 2004 158.

39 "Employment and social security of disabled people" in China Development Report 2004, 159; and also, " White-paper on Employment and Relevant Policy in China", by State Council News office (April 26, 2004), see http://news.xinhuanet.com/zhengfu/2004-04/26/content_1440127.htm

40 See Table 22-41 Basic information of people with disabilities, China Statistical Yearbook 2003, 850.

41 According to an official released data based on 1987 national sampling survey on disability, the employment rate of disabled persons in 1987 was 50.19% in cities and 60.55% in countryside. Legal Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, "A Legislative Report on the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons", (Beijing, Huaxia Publishing House, 1992), 96.

42 Article 27, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, 17.

43 Id., Article 34, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, 21-22.

44 According to Ministry of Civil Affairs, in 2002, totally 682,840 disabled staffs and workers were employed by 35,758 welfare enterprises. See " Basic Statistics on Social Welfare Enterprises" in China Statistical Yearbook 2003, 839; but in 2003, about 1,091,000 disabled persons were employed in welfare enterprises, according to a different data given by a CDPF in its report titled " Statistic Report of the Development of the Undertakings for Disabled Persons in China in 2003" (canliangfa (2004)10. See http://www.cdpf.org.cn/shiye/sj-03.htm;

45 By 2003, the quota scheme policy was practiced by 1,519 counties and 640 cities of all 31 provinces. See http://www.cdpf.org.cn/shiye/sj-03.htm

46 Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons establishes that specific quota or ratio may be determined by local provincial governments yet in practice the quota is no less than 1.5%.

47 "Basic information of people with disabilities", China Statistical Yearbook 2003,

48 "Organize and support the compilation, writing and publication of Braille books, talking books for blind persons and reading materials for deaf and mentally retarded persons, offer TV programmes in sign language and put in subtitles or narrations in movies and TV programmes." Article 38, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, (Beijing, Huaxia Publishing House, 1998)

49 Under one of 16 major targeted areas and measures " actively promote the work of accessibility", the "Tenth Five-Year Work Plan on Disability" which was approved and issued by the State Council on April 10, 2001(guofa (2001) 7) requires to develop accessible information and communication include subtitling news, films and TV programs, promoting sign languages and appropriate technologies for deaf and blind people.

50 Helpful information can be found at the website of China Braille Publishing House: www.cn-bp.com.

51 Article 44, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, (Beijing , Huaxia Publishing House, 1998).

52 Article 34, Law of People's Republic of China on Criminal Procedure.

53 "Sunshine Chinese computer-screen reader software" was developed and already used by many blind users in cities like Beijing and also benefited overseas Chinese-speaking blind people. For details, see a report at http://www.cn-bp.com/software

54 There are some websites by and for deaf persons, for instance, the website of Chinese Deaf at http://www.cndeaf.com

55 According to "State Council Decree on Establishment a System of Basic Medical Insurance for Employed Workers in Urban Area (Guofa (1998)44)" and "State Council General Office Notification on Establishment of a New Cooperative Medical Care in Rural Areas (Guobanfa (2003)3)", under the new medical care policy, health services shall be provided in line with the principle of shared financial responsibilities with payment from concerned individual beneficiaries, their employers and the State.

56 There is no statistialc data on how many disabled persons enjoy health and medical care. Although employed people used to and may still enjoy medical care at public expense, more tend to buy basic medical insurance nowadays. In 1994, only 374,600 employed workers and 25,700 retirees were covered by basic medical insurance, while in 2002 and 2003, the amounts rocketed up to 94,000,000 and 109,020,000. This is also the case for disabled persons. See Table 22-36 Historic Figures of Unemployment insurance and basic medical insurance, China Statistical Yearbook 2004, 844 and "Information on cultural, health and sports", China Development Report 2004, 341.

57 "Rehabilitation", Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons

58 CDPF system currently runs a nationwide rehabilitation network with more than 15,008 centers and posts in 2003. Rehabilitation services are also delivered by other care providers especially by public health care givers although there was no data available on those services. For yearly CDPF-provided services, see China Statistical Yearbook 2004, (China Statistics Press, Beijing, 2004),850.

59 "Notices on Implementation of the Tenth Five-Year Programme on Disability (2001-2005) (Guofa (2001)7".

60 "Situation of the Undertakings for Disabled Persons", China Development Report 2004, 49 and 158-159.

61 Article 45, Constitutions of the People's Republic of China (promulgated in 1982 and amended in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004)

62 "Helping the Poor and Relieving Those In Need to Building a Well-off Society For All- national conference on poverty-reduction among disabled persons convened", page 8-9, " Disability in China"(monthly) ISSN1003-1081, Issue No.11, Nov. 2004

63 Ibid

64 See Para.4 , Chapter 1, UN ESCAP " Guidelines on Building Barrier-free Physical Environment for Persons with Disabilities", United Nations ESCAP, New York, UN, 1995

65 " Codes for Design on Accessibility of Urban Roads and Buildings (JGJ 50-2001)", by Ministry of Construction and others, China Building Industry Publishing House, CSBN 15112.10264, Beijing, 2001. For a Chinese version, see http://www.shucm.sh.cn/home/ztwork/wzashs/view/001.asp

66 Design Code for the Accessibility of People with Disabilities To Urban Roads and Buildings (JGJ50-88) was issued by Ministry of Construction in September 1988 as a trial professional standard. See "Design Code for the Accessibility of People with Disabilities To Urban Roads and Buildings", ISBN7-80053-445-6/T003, Huaxia Publishing House, Beijing (1992)

67 See 1.0.2 and 1.0.3, " Codes for Design on Accessibility of Urban Roads and Buildings (JGJ 50-2001)", by Ministry of Construction and others, China Building Industry Publishing House, CSBN 15112.10264, Beijing (2001).

68 Article 46 stipulates that, " the State and society shall gradually regularize the Design Codes for the Accessibility of Disabled Persons to Urban Roads and Buildings and adopt barrier-free measures." Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons,

69 " Statistic Report of the Development of the Undertakings for Disabled Persons in China in 2003" (canliangfa (2004)10. See http://www.cdpf.org.cn/shiye/sj-03.htm

70 Yuan Zhujun, " Beijing will have the first law on accessibility by end of the year", Beijing Youth Daily, Jan. 25, 2003

71 "Accessibility Construction", Part 3 , "Work Program for Disabled Persons during the 10th Five-year Plan Period(2001-2005) an official decree by State Council [Guafa (2001) No.7 ] issued on April 10, 2001

72 Liu Yang, " First Accessible Bus Line Opened in Beijing" , Beijing Youth Daily, Beijing (Nov. 21, 2004), see http://www.bdpf.org.cn/xwzxInfo.asp?id=2094

73 Deng Xiaoqun, "Disabled Persons Experiencing Accessible Subways," on Shenzhen Business Daily, December 4, 2004, at http://www.hrol.org/news/info.php?id=510

74 Article 38, Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons

75 "Cultural life', Law on the Protection of Disabled Persons, (Beijing,Huaxia Publishing House,1998)

76 By 2000, there were 266 audio-reading libraries corners for blind people and 1,632 recreation centers for disabled persons, see page 51, Statistics Yearbook on the Undertakings of People with Disabilities in China 2004, a CDPF internal report, complied by CDPF Information Office, Beijing (2004)

77 For example, even in economically under-developed northwestern China's Gansu Province, disabled persons on their disability certificates may enjoy free of charge visit to cultural and sports venues and facilities. See Article 12, " Provisional Regulations of Gansu Provincial Government Concerning Preferential Treatments for Disabled Persons" ( Governor Decree No.5, Nov. 24th, 1999), http://www.gsdpf.org.cn/zcfg/yhdyzxgd.htm

78 "Statistical Report of the Development of the Undertakings for Disabled Persons in China in 2003" 10. See http://www.cdpf.org.cn/shiye/sj-03.htm

79 For details of the China Disabled People's Arts Troupe, see their website: http://www.cdppat.org.cn/

80 "Beijing Paralympic Games: a great games", see http://www.beijing-2008.org/31/41/article211634131.shtml

81 "Shanghai to host the next Special Olympics: Agreement Signing Ceremony Attended by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, Shanghai Mayor Chen Liangyu and Mr. Deng Pufang", see http://www.sh.xinhuanet.com/2004-03/03/content_1716634.htm

82 Zhong Canyan, " Human Rights Protection and The Work for Persons with Disabilities in China- Study and Implement the Constitutions", (Beijing, People's Daily, April 29, 2004), see http://www.ccyl.org.cn/study_think/file/xxysk20040429.htm

83 Yutaka Takamine, "Poverty Reduction Program for Persons with Disabilities in China", in Disability Issues in East Asia: Review and Way Forward, (World Bank, July 2003), 34.

84 "SCCCD: its institutional structure, membership composition and main responsibilities", see http://www.cdpf.org.cn/jigou/jg-cgw.htm

85 See UN news coverage at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/gasm340.doc.htm

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