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China to improve social security for disabled
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2010-03-08 11:50

Sitting in a wheelchair, 33-year-old Li Nan beamed with pride as she read through a copy of this year's government work report.

"I am thrilled to see that my advices on improving social security for the disabled was responded in the government work report this year," she said.

On January 31, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Li's community to seek public opinion on the draft government report, during which Li suggested to the premier that the country pay more attention to the employment of people with disabilities and take better care of those suffering from industrial injuries.

Her proposals drew instant attention from the premier who, about one month later, pledged to "work harder to build the social security and social services system for people with disabilities," in his government work report.

The country would implement additional policies for assisting and supporting the disabled and would create a better environment for them to participate in social activities on an equal footing, the premier said in the report delivered Friday at the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

"We will move faster to build a better social security network to provide basic security to people and free them from worries," he said.

It is the first time the Chinese government has included enhancement of social security and social services for the disabled in its government report, according to Li, who was once a prize-winning amateur dancer but confined to the wheelchair after a traffic accident in 2002.

"The government has taken a realistic approach to address the needs of the disabled," she said.

Li Pijun, of the Yunnan Provincial Federation of the Disabled, also said Premier Wen's pledge to improve the welfare system for the disabled in the government work report was proof that "the Chinese government is responsible to its people."

According to Li Pijun, who is also a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China has a disabled population of more than 83 million, accounting for 6.34 percent of the population. Among them, more than 70 percent live in the country's relatively poor and backward rural areas.

"It is very important that the government strengthen its efforts to ensure minimum living standards for the disabled, ... who are members of the disadvantaged groups in the society," he said.

Wang Dongjin, another member of the CPPCC National Committee and former Minister of Labour and Social Security, also said assisting the disabled, especially those who suffer from poverty and live in rural areas, should be an important part in China's building of a comprehensive well-off society.

He urged the government to increase fiscal investment to cover China's disabled population in the countryside, especially in the western part of the country, with its new rural cooperative medical care system.

A special fund should also be established to provide medical aid to the disabled, he said.

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