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Statement by Mr. Cao Bingliang, Advisor of the Chinese Delegation at the 46th Session of the Commission on Social Development on "Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups"(Item 3b)
New York, 11 February 2008

2008/02/11

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese government has always attached great importance to issues concerning ageing, persons with disabilities and the youth. We are making every effort to build a harmonious society with the people at its centre by improving the quality of life of people from all social groups, so that they will be able to share the fruits of our social and economic development.

First, at present, the ageing of the world's population is accelerating. The issues related to ageing are coming to the forefront. Take China as an example, as of the end of 2006, the number of people aged 60 or above has reached 149 million, accounting for 11.3% of the entire population. This number is expected to grow to 174 million by 2010, roughly 12.8% of the national total. The ageing of the population is increasingly becoming one of the great challenges facing the Chinese society.

The Chinese government pays close attention to the rapid expansion of the ageing population and the problems resulting therefrom. We have been following up and implementing in real earnest the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. In our work for the elderly, our goal is to ensure that they are all provided for and enjoy proper medical care; that they will be able to pass on their experiences and to learn new things; and that they will get the opportunity to contribute to the society while enjoying their golden age. With the government playing the leading role, the whole society gets involved to make caring for the elderly the undertaking of the entire population. We have stepped up the efforts of promulgating policies and legal regulations on ageing, formulated work plans on the ageing, worked to improve mechanisms on ageing-related issues and encouraged all sectors of the society to participate actively in the work related to the elderly. In 2006, China started to implement its Eleventh Five-Year Work Program for the Elderly (2006-2010) and published a white paper on the Development of China's Cause for the Elderly.

With the current pension and health insurance systems in China unable to fully satisfy the needs of the rapidly growing ageing population, we will, under the principle of "people first", keep working to steadily improve our social security system and energetically safeguard the fundamental rights and interests of the elderly.

Second, as a vulnerable social group facing special difficulties, persons with disabilities is large in number and have unique characteristics. The government and the society should promote the work on disability to enable persons with disabilities to realize their rights and interests. At present, China has 83 million people with disabilities, about 6.3% of its entire population. In recent years, in the midst of rapid economic growth, the Chinese government has given increased attention to the safeguarding of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities, resulting in marked improvement in their conditions.

We have adopted measures mainly in 4 areas. 1. We have formulated and improved laws and policies to protect and promote the rights and interests of persons with disabilities. In this regard, we have adopted and implemented Regulations on the Employment of People with Disabilities and revised the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities. 2. We have integrated the work for people with disabilities into the macro-economic and social development planning, and formulated and implemented the 11th Five-Year Work Program for Persons with Disabilities (2006-2010). 3. We have taken proactive measures to help persons with disabilities and to provide them with equal opportunities. 4. We encourage and mobilize all sectors of society, including organizations of persons with disabilities, to build partnerships in our common endeavor to support persons with disabilities, help and promote their participation in social life so as to enable them to share the benefits of material and cultural development.

In October 2007, Shanghai successfully hosted the 12th Special Olympics World Summer Games. The success of the event fully demonstrates the importance the Chinese government attaches to and its support for the cause of the disabled. Beijing will play host to the 13th Para Olympics in September 2008. The Chinese government will seize this opportunity to advocate and foster the practice of supporting and helping the disabled, create a favorable environment for them and to greatly increase accessibility for this group.

Three, youth has always been a center of attention for the Chinese government and the government has consistently supported the development and capacity-building of youth organizations. With the youth (16-34 years old) accounting for 33.6% of all the people employed in my country, the employment of the youth is becoming a critical employment issue.

We have adopted a series of measures to resolve the employment problems facing the youth. Those measures include strengthening vocational training to enhance the employability of the youth; adopting policies of tax incentives and providing employment services to help unemployed youth in urban areas to find jobs or start their own business; facilitating the employment of college graduates; launching a campaign called "Action of the Chinese Youth on Employment and Entrepreneurship" to encourage business start-ups; actively implementing the labor reserve system and upgrading young workers' competence; and organizing and guiding the employment of migrant rural youth.

We are gradually putting into practice our proactive employment policies, in particular the special measures targeting the employment of the youth. Guided by the World Program of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond of the UN, we have formulated and revised the Law on the Protection of Minors and the Law on the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, thus providing legal and institutional guarantees for the development of the youth and for the promotion and protection of their rights and interests. We are convinced that with the assistance of the international community and the focused efforts of the Chinese government, the above-mentioned policies and measures will surely bring about positive results.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese government highly appreciates the role of the UN in promoting the global causes for the elderly, persons with disabilities and the youth and in the implementation of relevant programs and plans. China will continue to actively engage in international cooperation in the field of social development. Together with the international community, we will work hard to implement the relevant programs and plans of action, improve social security and achieve the MDGs.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman

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