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More Efforts to Integrate the Disabled Into Society

President Hu Jintao met with Chairman of Special Olympics International Timothy Shriver in Shanghai Tuesday, pledging more government effort to integrate the disabled into the society, and so that "they can share the fruit of China's economic and social development."

Hailing the spirit of the Special Olympic Games which features the aspiration to win, President Hu said the Games encourages people with intellectual disabilities to challenge themselves and realize the value of their lives, and help them to share with others the achievements of human civilization.

Since its foundation in 1968, the Games had become a comprehensive and large-scale sports event for the mentally challenged all over the world, Hu said.

The Shanghai Games is the first time the Special Olympics Summer Games are being held in a developing country, in Asia and in China. Hu said it is also the first time China holds an all-round international sports event for people with intellectual disabilities.

"It will greatly promote the development of China's Special Olympics, and contribute to the development of the international Special Olympics cause," Hu told Shriver.

The Chinese president said China hopes the Games would help the world better understand China, and strengthen the friendship between people of China and the rest of the world. "I believe the Shanghai Games would certainly achieve full success with joint efforts of various parties," he said.

China has nearly 83 million disabled people and among them about 9.84 million are intellectually disabled. Hu told Shriver his government has been attaching great importance to maintaining their rights and interests, and helping them get involved with the society.

China has sent athletes to all the Special Olympics Summer and Winter Games since 1987. The country has witnessed the fastest development of Special Olympics in the world, with over 50, 000 athletes attending the event by 2005, President Hu said.

Meanwhile, China has been taking a series of important measures to protect the rights and interests of the disabled people, Hu said. China became a signatory state of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities this year.

He pledged to continue to take care of and support the disabled, and take the opportunity of the Shanghai Special Olympics to speed up the development of the cause for the disabled and help them to get more integrated with the society.

Shriver expressed his appreciation over China's efforts in promoting the development of Special Olympics and spreading the spirit of the Games. He said President Hu called upon the athletes with intellectual disabilities ahead of the Shanghai Games, displaying the Chinese government's efforts to promote the cause for the disabled.

"It not only offers support to the international Special Olympics but also sets an example for the whole world," he said.

The Shanghai Special Olympics Summer Games, scheduled to open Tuesday evening at the Shanghai Stadium, has brought together some 10,000 athletes and trainers from more than 160 countries and regions.

(Xinhua News Agency October 3, 2007)

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