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Government to Further Help Disabled
The government yesterday pledged continuous efforts to help the country's 60 million-plus disabled people share equal development opportunities with able-bodied counterparts and achieve greater personal wealth.

Disabled people are still one of the most vulnerable groups in the country, with thousands unemployed and poverty rates worse than the national average, said Chairman of the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF) Deng Pufang yesterday, marking the opening of the fourth congress of the federation.

President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and Venus Ilagan, chairperson of Disabled Peoples' International, also attended the opening session.

Vice-Premier Huang Ju delivered a speech at the meeting, promising that the government will give more supports to the disabled people.

Deng told the meeting that the government will devote the first two decades of this century to improving the basic conditions of disabled people and protect their basic rights.

In one sentence, the development of disabled people should parallel that of others in China, he said.

Deng also disclosed yesterday that the country is working on the Provisions for the Protection of the Employment of Disabled Persons.

Moreover, the federation will step up its efforts for the occupational training of more disabled people.

Thanks to the help from the government and the persistent efforts of the disabled people themselves, as many as 84 per cent of the country's disabled population were employed by the end of the year 2002.

For the first time in the nation's history, the central labour authority awarded the honour of Technical Expert, the highest honour China awards to its outstanding labourers, to 23 disabled persons last month.

In addition to helping capable disabled people to stand on their own, Deng promised social security and healthcare for all "jobless and poverty-stricken'' disabled persons in the near future.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan delivered a message marking the congress, praising China's efforts in assisting its disabled population.

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific also sent a message to congratulate the congress, in which it places the Chinese Government among the strongest supporters of the elaboration process of an international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

(China Daily September 9, 2003)

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