|Statement by Ambassador Zhang Yishan, Deputy Head of Chinese Delegation, at 43rd Session of the Commission for Social Development on Item 3(b)|
|(14 February 2005)|
Deeply caring about the welfare and development of all social groups, the Chinese government is committed to a people-centered approach in building a harmonious society in which the standards and quality of life of all segments of society are constantly raised.
In its advocacy for persons of disabilities, the Chinese government has set for itself the task of eliminating discrimination and prejudice against this social group by, inter alia, propagating the spirit of humanitarianism and social justice. With the enactment of laws and regulations for their protection and the mainstreaming of their cause in the comprehensive national development plan, the life of the 60 million disabled persons and their families in China have seen considerably improved. To be sure, there are some disabled people who still live in poverty for various reasons. To address this question, the Government convened a national conference in October 2004 to work on ways and means to help disabled persons living in poverty, and to take concrete measures to guarantee their rights and interests, establish effective machinery to care for and help these people.
In an effort to further improve the situation of the disabled, UN is now in the process of formulating an international convention in their behalf. The Chinese government has been closely following that work and is looking forward to an early adoption of this international convention.
China now has an over 60 population of more than 130 million. The Government has in recent years stepped up its work in providing social security for its senior citizens by launching and improving schemes that provide for basic old-age insurance, basic health insurance and minimum security. About 116.46 million employees of enterprises in cities have subscribed to the schemes and there are about 38.6 million retirees who are paid pension benefits. Local governments have joined hands with the central government in promoting senior citizens' welfare and established 32,490 senior community centers. The seniors enjoy many special discounts.
Youth are the future of every country and society. In China, there are 460 million people in the 14 to 35 age group, accounting for 38% of the total population. The Chinese government's attention to youth affairs is reflected in its formulation of China's Agenda 21 and China's Strategic Youth Development Plan in the context of Building a Socialist Market Economy. The Government educates youth in the importance of good citizenship and gives priority to the protection of their rights and interests. It encourages and organizes young people in learning activities and the acquisition of knowledge in science and technology, promotes their growth and employment, provides help to youth in distress, takes an interest in youth's cultural life in their leisure time and attaches importance to crime prevention among youth. The Government has also initiated "Hope Projects" aimed at promoting primary education in poor areas. These Projects have received over 1.3 billion RMB in contributions from donors in the country and abroad, which have helped 1.8 million children to stay in school and built 5,200 schools of Hope.
In view of the great importance China attaches to international cooperation in the implementation of the World Program of Action concerning Disabled Persons, the World Program of Action for Youth and the International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002, China has, together with the relevant agencies of the United Nations and other international organizations, organized international and regional seminars in China in an effort to actively contribute to their implementation.
The Chinese government is committed to continuing its support for the implementation of the relevant programs of action in China and is ready to enhance international cooperation in the hope that through joint efforts, we can improve the conditions for the disabled persons, the young and the old and build one harmonious society for all.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.