By Zhou Jingyuan
China’s State Council Information Office issued a white paper titled “China’s Parasports: Progress and the Protection of Rights” on March 3, the day before the opening of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. This is the first time that the Chinese government has released a white paper on China’s parasports progress.
“China is going all out to prepare for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games,” said the document, which suggested that as of February 20, 2022, 647 athletes from 48 countries and regions registered in the Games.
“China is fully prepared to welcome athletes from all around the world to the Games,” said the white paper.
The white paper consists of three parts: the preamble, main body and conclusion. The main body includes five sections: “Parasports Have Progressed Through National Development” “Physical Activities for Persons with Disabilities Have Flourished” “Performances in Parasports Are Improving Steadily” “Contributing to International Parasports” and “Achievements in Parasports Reflect Improvements in China’s Human Rights”.
Developing parasports is an effective way to help persons with disabilities to improve physical fitness, pursue physical and mental rehabilitation, participate in social activities, and achieve all-round development; it also provides a special opportunity for the public to better understand the potential and value of the disabled, and promote social harmony and progress, according to the white paper.
China regards rehabilitation and fitness activities for persons with disabilities as one of the main components in implementing its national strategies of Fitness-for-All, Healthy China initiative, and Building China into a Country Strong in Sports, pointed out the white paper.
Physical activities for persons with disabilities have flourished, with parasports events carried out nationwide, winter sports for persons with disabilities on the rise, and rehabilitation and fitness services for persons with disabilities constantly improving, according to the document.
As disabled people in China are becoming increasingly active in sports, their performances in parasports are also improving steadily, as the document pointed out.
Meanwhile, China has made its contributions to international parasports. The country is fully engaged in international sports affairs for the disabled and continues to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other countries and with international organizations for disabled people, building friendship among peoples of all countries, including those with disabilities, the white paper said.
In 2022, the Fourth Asian Para Games will be held in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province. Around 3,800 parasports athletes from over 40 countries and regions will compete in 604 events across 22 sports. These games will vigorously promote friendship and cooperation in Asia, it noted.
The Chinese government lays great emphasis on the protection of disabled people’s rights and interests and has comprehensively enhanced the construction of a barrier-free environment to make it more convenient for people with disabilities to live, study and work, said Guo Liqun, spokesperson with the China Disabled Persons’ Federation.
China constantly improves the coverage of accessible facilities. In the country, 81 percent of entrances and exits, 56 percent of service counters and 38 percent of restrooms of the comprehensive service facilities in villages (communities) have been equipped or upgraded for accessibility.
Between 2016 and 2020, China helped some 650,000 poor families with severely disabled members adapt their homes to suit the needs of the disabled members, provided support for the disabled in fighting against poverty and improved their living standards, said Guo.
To create a barrier-free travel and service environment, the Chinese government has continuously strengthened the construction and renovation of transportation infrastructure to make it more accessible by people with disabilities.
The country has promoted the application of barrier-free passenger vehicles; 3,598 trains have specially designed seats for disabled people; public transport vehicles have designated priority seats for people with disabilities, and low-floor buses and barrier-free taxis are employed; city buses are equipped with screens and voice stop reminders, Guo pointed out.
China is now promoting information accessibility, striving to address the difficulties faced by special groups including the elderly and the disabled people in using smart technologies such as the Internet.
China has increased the supply of accessible information terminal products, facilitated the popularization and application of barrier-free products and service technologies, broadened the channels for persons with disabilities to participate in the information society, and promoted the in-depth integration of informatization and barrier-free environments, in a bid to bridge the digital divide and help people with disabilities enjoy a better digital life.
To fully protect the employment rights and interests of people with disabilities, China encourages Party and government organs, public institutions, and state-owned enterprises to take the lead in providing jobs for disabled people. In addition, employers in the country are required to adapt the workplace to make it barrier-free and convenient, and create necessary conditions for the work of disabled employees.