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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Zhang Yishan, Head of the Chinese Delegation and Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the UN at the First Session of the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention to Promote and Protect the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (July 30, 2002)
Mr. Chairman,

First of all, please allow me, on behalf of the Chinese Delegation, to congratulate you and other members of the bureau on your election as well as on the opening of this first session of the Ad Hoc Committee.  The Chinese Delegation will actively cooperate with you to make a joint contribution to the success of this session.

Mr. Chairman,

In the 21st century, the issue of disability remains to be a serious global social problem.  There are 600 million persons with disabilities in the world today, who account for one tenth of the world's total and are facing many difficulties normal persons would never experience in their daily life.  In addition, armed conflicts, accidents, natural disasters, poverty, diseases and malnutrition all have worsened the situation of persons with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities desire to be involved in social life. They have the spirit to be strong and independent, and the capability to make contributions to society.  They are producers of both physical and spiritual wealth of the society.  They should enjoy equal rights as normal persons do.  Being concerned for the disabled is a symbol of progress of human civilization.  It is also in conformity with the trend of social development.  To maintain world peace, establish a fair and rational new international political and economic order, and bring about comprehensive economic and social development is fundamental for the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Governments should promote education and raise awareness to correct inappropriate opinions in the society towards persons with disabilities.  Governments also have the obligations to adopt legislative and administrative measures to promote and protect various rights of persons with disabilities, and to actively engage in international cooperation through the provision of resources and technical assistance.

The Chinese Government supports the UN in formulating a Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, and believes it is significantly important for further improving and protecting the rights and interests of these people.  The Chinese Delegation would, therefore, like to make the following suggestions concerning the formulation of the Convention:

1.The future Convention should be an international instrument of guiding principles in nature.  Countries in the world have different historical, cultural backgrounds and different levels of economic development. Therefore, different countries naturally may emphasize on different aspects of the work concerning persons with disabilities.  While considering the formulation of the Convention, we should have due regards to the specific situations in different countries, and adopt a positive and pragmatic attitude, drawing from existing international instruments such as the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, so that the provisions and measures developed will be of universal guiding value and be practical and effective to all countries in the world.  

2.The future Convention should be balanced in content, taking into account individual rights of persons with disabilities, while not neglecting their collective rights.  It should not only cover their civil and political rights, but also, more importantly, their economic, social and cultural rights, particularly their right to subsistence and right to development.

3.The future Convention should give priority to the following rights of persons with disabilities: (1) The overall life quality of persons with disabilities should be improved; (2) They should have access to education, training and remunerable employment and be able to participate in various levels of decision-making; (3) Discriminations against persons with disabilities in the society should be eradicated, and all impediments in the fields of information, law and infrastructure should be removed; (4) The distribution of resources should be increased to ensure equal participation for persons with disabilities.

4.The future Convention should pay particular attention to the special situation and difficulties faced by persons with disabilities in the developing countries, and take up reasonable proposals and requests of the developing countries.  80 % of the persons with disabilities in the world live in developing countries, many of whom still live in poverty.  Their disadvantages are doubled due to poverty and disability.  The Convention should take into full account the fairly low level of economic development in the developing countries and their social protection systems that need to be improved, so as to formulate the standards that conform with the actual situation of developing countries and are easy to implement.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the work concerning persons with disabilities, and has made great efforts and scored remarkable achievements in promoting and protecting their rights and interests, with remarkable achievements.  In China, we have formulated relevant laws and regulations such as the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities, Regulations on the Education of Persons with Disabilities, and the Norms and Standards on Urban Roads and Construction Designs Easily Accessible to Persons with Disabilities.  Education campaigns have been carried out throughout the country to publicize laws such as the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities.   The Chinese Government has incorporated the development plan concerning persons with disabilities into its overall plan of national development, and has formulated as well as implemented three "Five-Year Plans".  Effective measures have been undertaken in various aspects, such as education, health and rehabilitation, employment, poverty alleviation, culture, sports, information exchange, transportation and legal assistance.  Dramatic improvement in the situation of persons with disabilities has been made.  In China, persons with disabilities enjoy all the rights on an equal basis as other citizens, including the right to participate in national decision making as representatives of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).  Of course, China is a developing country with 60 million persons with disabilities. Therefore, there still remains a long and difficult journey ahead to achieve the goals of development in this field.  However, we are determined to make utmost efforts with the international community to realize the goal of "equality, participation and sharing" envisaged for persons with disabilities.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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