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The Centennial History and Significance of the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities by the Communist Party of China
October 23,2021   By:CSHRS
The Centennial History and Significance of the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities by the Communist Party of China
 
QU Xiangfei*
 
Abstract: The Communist Party of China has been concerned with the protection of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities since its founding. In the period of the New Democratic Revolution and after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, it adopted a series of protective measures in various forms in line with local conditions. Since the reform and opening-up, the cause of persons with disabilities has developed in an all-around way under the leadership of the CPC. Especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the protection of human rights for persons with disabilities has been innovatively developed, and persons with disabilities have been truly participating in social affairs and share the country’s development gains as equal subjects of rights. The centennial history of the Party’s protection of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities shows that the CPC’s ideas of human rights protection consecutively comprise humanitarian assistance, humanitarian protection, and people-centered human rights protection. The main identity of persons with disabilities has changed from the object of protection during the revolution to the object of medical care and social welfare, and the subject of human rights. The content of protection of rights and interests has developed from survival assistance to comprehensive protection including education, rehabilitation, employment, etc. The dignity, autonomy, equality, and social participation of persons with disabilities as the subject of human rights have become increasingly prominent.
 
Keywords: Communist Party of China · rights and interests of persons with disabilities· survival assistance ·comprehensive protection
 
It is a bounden duty of the Chinese government and an inevitable requirement of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics to value and protect the human rights of persons with disabilities.1 As far back as leading the Labor Movement during the early years of its establishment, the Communist Party of China has kept a watchful eye on this specific group and made a proper arrangements for their work and life based on local conditions even in the extremely hard and bitter years of revolutionary wars and during the Agrarian Revolution and social reform in the base areas and liberated areas. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Party and the government have made new progress in protecting the rights and interests of persons with disabilities in light of national conditions and the real situation in China. After the launch of reform and opening-up, the Party and the government paid more attention to promoting the protection of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities by means of institutional improvement and their social participation, encouraging them to truly become subjects with rights, and participants, contributors, and beneficiaries of the country’s economic and social development.
 
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the protection of human rights for persons with disabilities has been developed innovatively. The Party and the government have made the undertaking one of the important goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and has included the protection of human rights for people with disabilities in the national overall plan for economic and social development and the National Human Rights Action Plan. The working mechanisms for the protection of the human rights of persons with disabilities have been improved, with the social security system and service system increasingly well-established. The sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security for persons with disabilities has been enhanced, and the undertakings have made historic achievements that have attracted worldwide attention. Reviewing the key propositions, the main laws, regulations and policies, the main institutions and mechanisms, and the major measures and methods adopted by the Party to protecting the rights and interests of persons with disabilities over the past 100 years, is of great significance to know of and understand China’s centennial progress in protecting the rights and interests of persons with disabilities based on the key historical landmarks.
 
I. The Period of New-Democratic Revolution: Humanitarian Assistance for the Persons with Disabilities
 
In the period of the New-Democratic Revolution, persons with disabilities were mainly the objects of protection in the revolutionary movement led by the CPC. The thought of humanitarian assistance was the dominant idea of the Party in safeguarding the rights and interests of persons with disabilities, with the priority of their right to survival.
 
A. Protection of the survival of the persons with disabilities with social and labor insurance
 
The labor movement was the revolutionary line in the early days after the establishment of the Party. In the important documents selected and compiled by the Party Literature Research Center of CPC Central Committee and the Central Archives since the founding of the communist party of China, “Several Key Issues in the Revival of the Labor Movement” presented by Deng Zhongxia, the then director of the Secretariat of China Labor Association, in the Second National Laboring Congress in May 1925, was the first in which the issue of disability was explicitly mentioned. The document clearly stated that Labor Insurance shall include “disability insurance.”2 As the resolution adopted by Congress put forward, “The social insurance system shall be made for workers to receive compensation in the event of injury or death at work; and get relief in sickness, unemployment or at the old age.”3 “The Resolution on the China Issue” in the Seventh Extended Plenary Session of the Executive Committee of the Communist International in November 1926 proposed that the Party publicize a series of stipulations in terms of social law, including the requirement for disability insurance.4 In June 1927, the CPC held the Fourth National Laboring Congress in Hankou, making more specific requirements in a sequence of resolutions to implement social insurance, i.e., “The social labor insurance shall be provided against inevitable sickness, death, injury, unemployment, senility, etc. to safeguard the living conditions of the workers,” and “The elderly disabled shall receive a lifetime pension from the labor insurance funds.”5 This shows that the social security system initially conceived by the CPC had social insurance for persons of disabilities included.
 
After the establishment of its revolutionary regime, the CPC began to protect the rights and interests of persons with disabilities by means of revolutionary legislation. In May 1930, the CPC Central Committee held the first National Soviet Congress in Shanghai in secret, in which the Labor Protection Law was passed, stipulating that the workers who suffered from work-related injury or disability shall be given pensions according to the regulations of the government and the trade union, and shall have old age allowances.6 The Chinese Soviet Republic was founded in November 1931. On December 1, the Labor Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic was promulgated. As stipulated in the Article 70 “The Types of Preferential Subsidies in Social Insurance”, “Preferential Subsidies for the Disabled, Elderly and Weak Workers suffering partial or total disability from general causes such as mishap or occupational disease, or unable to work in old age, shall receive subsidies in cash upon examination by a special committee which determines the disability degree and nature and the family status.” The Law also provides that “persons who are disabled due to occupational diseases shall also be entitled to a disease benefit until such time as the disability benefit is stipulated”.7
 
In Article 68 of the Labor Law of the Chinese Soviet Republic drawn up in 1933, detailed provisions on the implementation of social insurance were made, such as “allowances shall be given to persons temporarily incapacitated to work” and “preferential subsidies shall be provided in case of disability and senility.” Article 69 stipulated that should the insured temporarily lose ability to work, “for whatever reason, the insured shall be given allowance based on the amount of wages earned by the insured, from the date of labor incapacity to the date of physical rehabilitation or disability identification.” Also, Article 75 stipulatess that “any of the insured suffering from partial or total disability due to disease or mishap, or unable to work in old age, shall be given preferential subsidies upon examination by a special committee. The amount to be paid shall be determined by the degree and nature of the disability and the family status of the insured.”8
 
In October 1935 after the main force of the Central Red Army arrived in Northern Shaanxi during the Long March, the Northwest Office of the Central Government of the Chinese Soviet Republic was established, making Northern Shaanxi the central base area of the revolution. The Regulations on Labor Protection of Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region in 1942 stipulated that “Where a worker is disabled due to work and loses all or part of his or her working ability, the employer shall pay a disability allowance, the amount of which shall be based on the severity of the disability and shall be no less than the half-year average salary.”9 The Provisional Regulations on the Labor Protection in the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Border Region in 1942 stipulated that if a worker is disabled due to work but still competent for light work, the employer shall pay an additional one to three-month salary as a pension in addition to supporting medical treatment; if a worker is disabled at work and unable to keep working, the employer shall pay three months to one year in wages as a pension according to the length of working time, the level of skill employed, and the degree of disability.10
 
B. Protection of the survival and development of disabled revolutionary servicemen
 
The protection of the survival and the rights and interests of the disabled revolutionary servicemen is an important content of the CPC’s protection of the persons of disabilities in the period of the revolutionary war. In the important documents since the founding of the Party, the “Declaration of the Executive Committee of the CPC Guangdong Region on the Current Political Situation of Guangdong” in June 1925 was the first to mention the serviceman with disabilities, in which the various minimum requirements it put forward to the government included the “provisions on the annuity for servicemen with disabilities.”11 After the Nanchang Uprising, the CPC built up its armed forces. In July 1931, the second congress of the Hubei-Henan-Anhui Soviets was held, in which the “Regulations on Pensions for the Casualties of Red Army Soldiers” applicable to the local area was issued,12 making provisions on compensation for the sacrifices and disabilities resulting from the war. As stipulated, medals of honor shall be given to the Red Army soldiers who were disabled due to the war, and they shall have the right to entrusting the experienced to do farm work, enjoy the priority of work in a factory and of rest and recuperation in hospitals for the disabled, receive higher living expenses, be exempt from duty, have the right to travel by car or boat and get hospitalized free of charge, enjoy rent-free accommodation, and have their children go to school free of charge.
 
On November 7, 1931, the First National Congress of Workers, Peasants, and Soldiers was held in Ruijin County, Jiangxi Province, in which the Central Workers and Peasants Democratic Government passed the “Regulations on Preferential Treatment for the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army” as one of the earliest written laws and regulations on the work of providing special assistance to families of martyrs and servicemen in the revolutionary history of the CPC. The regulations stipulated that “The State shall establish a Red Army Hospital for the Disabled, and all living expenses in the hospitals shall be provided by the state for those who are disabled due to attending the war or serving in the Red Army. Those who are unwilling to be hospitalized shall be given a lifetime pension per annum, which shall be determined by the Soviet government of each county according to the local conditions, currently at least 50 silver dollars per annum.” It also stipulated preferential treatment for the families of the deceased or disabled Red Army soldiers, “First, the State shall establish revolutionary memorial schools especially for their children and younger siblings to take education and shall support their living until they reach the age of 18 when the State shall recommend jobs; second, the State shall give corresponding allowances to their parents, spouse and children.”13
 
In 1932, the Central Workers and Peasants Democratic Government issued the “Regulations on Pensions for Red Army Soldiers”. As Article 6 stated, “On active service, those who are disabled and unable to serve shall be taken to the Red Army Hospital for the Disabled to recuperate, and their living expenses shall be increased by half compared with those for army men. Those who prefer to return home shall be given a lifelong pension, the amount of which shall depend on the level of living then and there. However, for those suffering from total disability, the pension shall be no less than 50 yuan per year, and the half-disabled shall be given no less than 30 yuan per year.” Article 10 also stipulated that “the families of those who suffer from disease or partial incapacity due to hard work and of the disabled or the deceased shall be given pensions. The families who have no living ability shall be given practical assistance, such as providing preferential pension and assisting in the cultivation and home moving, to maintain their living; their children and younger siblings shall be taken to the revolutionary memorial schools, and all their expenses shall be borne by the State until they reach the age of 18 when the State shall recommend jobs. For those who are willing to pursue further studies and are identified as qualified after examination, the State shall provide the studying expenses; the priority shall be given for arranged employment.14
 
In October 1935, the Central Red Army arrived in Northern Shaanxi. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the War of Liberation, further development of the system and the practical work related to preferential treatment had been made. To address the problem of medical rehabilitation of the injured and disabled soldiers, the Ministry of Health of the Central Government established the Red Army Honorary Military Hospital. In 1939, Lin Boqu expatiated on the work of the border regional government in “The Work of the Government of the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region in Defending the Border Region and the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression During the Two Years”, with Article 6 on the “Work on Relieving Refugees, Compensating the disabled and Caring for Children”. This stated that, “In two years, more than 6,000 people had received preferential treatment from the government of the border region. As for the deceased, permanent preferential treatment shall be provided to their family members in addition to a oneoff pension. For the disabled, preferential treatment cards of various levels shall be issued respectively based on the degrees of light, heavy, permanent, or temporary disability, a pension of 10 to 30 yuan shall be given out per year, and specially assigned persons shall be allocated to cultivate their land. For the demobilized veterans, the government shall provide land and houses apart from the pension, as well as tools and seeds, to ensure their livelihoods after they leave the army.”15
 
The Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Border Region promulgated the “Amendment to Interim Measures on the Pensions for Military Casualties in the Anti-Japanese War” in 1939, and its Administrative Committee re-formulated the “Measures on the Pensions for Disabled Army Men and Relatives of the Deceased Army Men16 in 1940, the “Current Administrative Program of the CPC Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Border Region Committee17 in 1940, the “Decision on Wage Standards for Workers in Public-Owned Factories in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region” in 194118, and such. Specialized provisions were made for the pensions and working treatment of disabled revolutionary army men, such as setting up factories for the disabled, granting pocket money for the retired army men with disabilities besides the original treatment, and prohibiting the dismissal of the army men with disabilities without the approval of the relevant authorities.
 
On October 1, 1941, the CPC Central Committee, the Central Military Commission, and the General Political Department issued the “Directive on the Proper Placement of the Disabled and the Elderly Army Men”, a comprehensive provision on the protection of the army men with disabilities with detailed contents. It indicated that “All the army men with disabilities, regardless of whether old or new, cadres and soldiers, shall be taken care of. Any of the phenomena such as disregard to the disabled, indifference to their living situation, and arbitrary treatment regardless of the consequences, shall be deemed criminal and be resolutely fought against.” It demanded that the servicemen with disabilities who lived in the base areas and wanted to return home should be demobilized “with pensions paid according to their household situations, food, clothing, and allowances given based on their former post in the army, and long-term preferential treatment from the government.” According to the situation in enemy-occupied areas, it also proposed, “It is not advisable to gather the Disabled in large numbers (such as establishing the Red Army Hospital for the Disabled) but to disperse them appropriately. Those who can work shall be encouraged to take up employment or to engage in production”, and “those who wish to range themselves locally shall be given active support and conveniences until they can earn their living. The disabled with total incapacity shall be properly resettled in a safe place, and the policy of long-term upbringing shall be adopted to improve their treatment and provide them with economic and material security.”19 In view of the possible mood of pessimism and depression of army men with disabilities, the Directive pointed out that the pessimism among the disabled shall be paid attention to and quickly overcome, and their political and honorary status shall be consciously raised among the army men and the common people.20 It also took into account the impact of prices on the disability pension, stating that the amount of the disability pension shall be “increased according to local prices, and paid in installments twice per year with no delay unless an absolute necessity.”21
 
In September 1942, the “Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Unifying the Party Leadership in the Anti-Japanese Base Areas and Adjusting the Relations among Various Organizations” emphasized again the care and maintenance of the injured, sick and disabled.22 In June 1944, the Political Department of the Shanxi- Chahar-Hebei Military Region issued the “Directive on the Work of Consolidation of the Forces”, requiring that the elderly, the weak, and the disabled shall be taken care of in the troops.23 It was stipulated in the “Provisional Regulations on Village Administration of Jiaodong District of Shandong Province” in 1944, the families of village administrators who sacrificed their lives or those disabled in combat with the enemy should be compensated according to the “Provisional Regulations of Shandong Province on Compensation for Anti-Japanese Political and Civilian Workers Involving Casualties on Duty”.24 In 1943, the Health Department of Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Military Region set up the Prosthetics Group. In 1945, the Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Prosthetics Factory was established in Zhangjiakou. Prosthetic factories were successively established in liberated areas in Northeast China, East China, Central China, and such.25
 
Chairman Mao’s On Coalition Government in 1945 called for “preferential treatment for army men with disabilities and assistance for ex-servicemen to solve problems of livelihood and employment” in “our specific program”.26 In 1945, Zhu De pointed out in On the Battlefield in the Liberated Areas that in terms of resettling the servicemen with disabilities and demobilized servicemen in recent years, “Besides entrusting for farming and giving compensation and condolence, assistance shall be given for developing production and building a family.”27 In 1946, the CPC delegation put forward “Draft Programme of the Peaceful Founding of Nation at the Political Consultative Conference”, requiring the government to “properly take care of the livelihood of the army men with disabilities and the families and bereaved relatives of the army men in war”.28 In 1948, “Provisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Division of Social Classes and Their Treatment in the Agrarian Reform” (Draft) stipulated that “revolutionary army men who are discharged from the army as a result of injury or disability shall, in addition to identifying status based on living conditions after leaving the army, retain the title of revolutionary army men for life”.29
 
In May 1949, the government of the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region officially promulgated the “Regulations on Pensions and Preferential Treatment for Honorary Revolutionary Martyrs and Elderly Revolutionary Military Workers and Detailed Rules on Pension Work in the Border Region.” Detailed provisions were made on the commendation of martyrs, subsidies for martyrs’ families, the disability degree of army men and workers, the grant of pensions, the establishment of honorary institutes and honorary teams, the alteration of disability degree, and the renewal and issuance of certificates, etc., thus putting the work of indemnity on the track of legislation and standardization.30 The Northeast China Liberated Areas and the North China People’s Government revised and formulated new laws and regulations on preferential treatment according to the specific situations, such as “Regulations on Preferential Treatment for Families of Revolutionary Army Men in Northeast China Liberated Area,” “Interim Measures on Pensions for Martyrs in Patriotic Self defense War in Northeast China Liberated Area,” and “Regulations on Preferential Treatment for Families of Revolutionary Army Men” by the North China People’s Government, making provisions on the preferential treatment accorded to families of revolutionary army men under various circumstances.31 The “Common Program of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,” adopted at the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on September 29, 1949, clearly stipulated that “The servicemen with disabilities and ex-servicemen who fought in the revolutionary wars shall be properly resettled by the people’s government for them to earn a living.”32
 
C. Protection of survival rights and interests for the disabled in the agrarian reform
 
Soon after the establishment of CPC, the solution of the land issue was included in the program of action. In Agrarian Reform, the Party did not ignore the livelihood of the elderly, the weak, and the disabled. In March 1928, the notification “On the Confiscation of Land and the Establishment of the Soviet Union” by the Central Government stated, “After the confiscation of land, all unsupported, elderly, weak, disabled, orphans and widows who lost the capacity to work shall be supported by the township Soviets.”33 The “Current Work Plan for the Soviet Area by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee” in October 1930 stipulated that citizens who lost the capacity to work (children under the age of 16, the elderly and the disabled, etc.) “shall be provided for by their family or the host family. According to the degree of burden, more land shall be distributed to those with a heavier burden as appropriate”.34 Article 1 of the Land Law of the Soviet Republic of China in 1931 stipulated, “Those elderly, weak, disabled, widows or orphans who are unable to work and have no dependents to rely on, shall be given social relief by the Soviet government, or shall be arranged separately after land allocation.35 In 1931, the Western Fujian Soviet Government-issued “Principles and Systems of Land Distribution in the Agrarian Revolution at In-depth Level”, which stipulated that “the government shall relieve the orphans, widows and the disabled without labor force”, and “currently land can be distributed as appropriate”.36 In October 1931, the “Regulations on the Complete and Equal Distribution of Land in the Hunan-Jiangxi Soviet Area” stipulated that “the impoverished elderly, weak, disabled, widows or orphans who are unable to work and have no dependents to rely on, shall be given a share of the land or be given social relief by the Soviet.”37 In 1948, Ren Bishi pointed out in Several Issues in Agrarian Reform, “If those people who are orphaned, widowed, disabled, sick are lack of labor force, their small plots of land can be rented.”38
 
The “Regulations of Shandong Province on Land Tenure” in 1945 stipulated that for the young, the disabled, the impoverished with lack of labor force who rent the land, the rent concession criteria shall be modified in light of the actual situation unless both sides of the lord and the tenant agreed to maintain the original rent.39 The “Interim Regulations on Rural Rent Reduction in New Areas of East China (Draft)” in 1949 stipulated, “If the workers, handicraftsmen, poor freelancers, family members of poor revolutionary army men, those who have no kin and cannot support themselves, and the disabled, rent all or part of the land due to lack of labor force, the rent shall be reduced slightly or not reduced agreed by the government and the peasant associations, provided that the lands for rent do not exceed the average of all lands owned by the local middle peasants.”40
 
D. Protection of rights and interests of persons with disabilities in other areas
 
As for the living guarantee and health welfare of the disabled, the “Provisional Political Programme of Soviet in Jiangxi Province” in 1933 proposed that “the government shall set up nursing home, baby farm, Red Army Hospital for the Disabled, and specialized hospital to nurture and cure the elderly, the weak, children,the disabled and the sick.”41 Article 13 of the “Administrative Program of the Democratic Government” of the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region Committee, issued on July 6, 1937, provided for social relief for the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.42 The Party was concerned about the education of children with disabilities. On May 7, 1931, the Hunan-Hubei-Jiangxi Soviet Government issued an order on the school system and the implementation of the minimum general education, stipulating the establishment of special schools for children with disabilities.43 The CPC also protected the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities by means of criminal law. Article 16 of the “Provisional Criminal Law of the Soviet in the Northeast Jiangxi Special Area” in 1931 stipulated the crime of abandonment, “Those who abandon such obligations as assisting, nurturing and protecting the elderly, the young, the disabled and the sick according to laws and contracts, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of the third to fifth grades;” “If the disabled, the sick, the elderly, or the young are found abandoned in the place under one’s supervision and fail to acquire proper protection, he or she shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of the fifth grade.”44
 
II. From the Founding of the People’s Republic of China to the Eve of Reform and Opening-Up - Humanitarian Protection for the Disabled
 
The founding of the People’s Republic of China marks a new starting point for China’s Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (1954) established the socialist system, in which Article 93 stated, “Working people in the People’s Republic of China have the right to material assistance in old age, and in case of illness or disability.” This laid the socialist foundation for the protection of the humanitarian rights and interests of the disabled. From 1949 to the eve of reform and opening-up, the disabled were mainly the objects of medical rehabilitation and social welfare. The Party and the government were to meet the requirements of employment, health care, rehabilitation, education, and much of the disabled mainly by the establishment of such centralized residential and nursing institutions as various welfare factories, nursing homes, welfare homes and psychiatric hospitals, and special education schools for the army men with disabilities. During this period, the Party and the government explored the socialized management mode for the disabled as well, and the organizations of the disabled realized their preliminary development.
 
The Chinese Association for the Welfare of the Blind was founded in 1953, and the Chinese Association for the Welfare of the Deaf was founded in 1956. In 1960, the two associations were merged into the China Association for the Blind and Deaf. The local associations and grassroots organizations had been established in most provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government, for the disabled to participate in the management of their affairs. However, as a whole, the protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities in this stage remains on the end of the establishment of the whole social security system and it still required improvement in terms of its relative independence, systematicness, standardization, and sustainability. In particular, during the decade from 1966 to 1976, the development of social security and welfare provision for the disabled came to an almost total standstill.45
 
A. Employment and protection of social rights and interests
 
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the first document concerning the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities formulated under the leadership of the CPC was the “Provisional Measures of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions on Handling Labor Relations” on November 22, 1949, which stipulated: “Where an employee is injured or dies at work, the employer shall pay his/her salary as usual and bear his/her medical expenses during the period of medical treatment. Where an employee is disabled or dies due to injury on duty, the employer shall provide a pension, the amount of which shall be made in the collective contract by agreement between workers and management.”46 On February 23, 1951, the Government Administration Council adopted the Labor Insurance Regulations, which provided that workers and staff who are disabled due to work-related injury and unable to work are entitled to a pension until the aging and death; For those who have lost partial incapacity, appropriate work shall be assigned by the administration or the management, in addition to giving a certain amount of disability allowance.47
 
How to protect the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, especially to solve the issue of their survival in the national economic life, has always been a staple of government work. In 1955, the “Report on the Final Accounts of State Revenue and Expenditure for 1954 and the State Budget for 1955” stated that “appropriate arrangements shall be made for workers and staff members with total incapacity due to the old age or disability”.48 For making proper arrangements for workers and staff members suffering total incapacity due to work-related disability, the “Interim Provisions of the State Council on the Treatment of Retirement of Workers and Staff Members” in 1958 required that workers and staff members who are disabled at work should be given retirement benefits.49 The Regulations of the State Council on Improving the Tax Administration System in 1958 required that the elderly, the weak, and the disabled engaged in self-supporting production, industry, handicraft industry, and traffic, be given preferential treatment in tax revenue.50 As stipulated in the “Minutes of the First Ethnic Work Conference in Northwest China (1961),”51 the “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Further Reducing the Labor Force and the Urban Population (1962)52 and “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Finishing and Overfulfilling the Task of Reducing the Labor Force (1963),”53 the elderly, the weak, the disabled, the sick and such shall be provided with subsidies and relief and properly resettled. The Government had also gradually promoted “concentration in employment” for the disabled by means of establishing welfare institutions. To promote the development of welfare production units, the government had formulated protective and supportive policies in taxation, production, supply and marketing, and integrated social welfare production into local plans.54
 
For the protection of survival for the disabled in rural areas, the “National Program for Agricultural Development (Draft) from 1956 to 1967” stipulated the “Five Guarantees” system, “Agricultural Production Cooperatives shall make proper arrangements in production and living for the peasant households and the army men with disabilities who are short of labor and have no kin and no means to support themselves, ensuring that they are fed, clothed, warmed (fuel), educated (children and juveniles) while alive and buried when dead.”55 The “Model Regulations for Advanced Agricultural Production Cooperatives” in 1956 stipulated that, “Agricultural Production Cooperatives shall actively recruit the families of martyrs, servicemen,state functionaries, servicemen with disabilities and demobilized servicemen (including demobilized military and political personnel who returned home after the uprising and the peaceful liberation), and attract the elderly, the weak, the orphaned, the widowed, and the disabled”, “The cooperatives shall also give preferential treatment to the families of servicemen, martyrs and members of servicemen with disabilities in accordance with the state preferential treatment measures,” and “Agricultural Production Cooperatives shall make proper arrangements and care in production and living for the members who are short of labor and have no kin and no means to support themselves due to old age, weakness or disability, ensuring that they are fed, clothed, warmed, educated for their children and juveniles while alive and buried when dead”. The “Five Guarantees” system continued during the period of the People’s Commune. Both the “Standard for Trial Implementation of Mount Chayashan Satellite People’s Commune (Draft) (1958),”56 and the “Regulations on the Work of Rural People’s Communes (Revised Draft) (1961)” stipulated that the elderly, the weak, the orphaned, the widowed and the disabled members who have no support for life shall be provided with supplies or subsidies.57 The “Regulations for the Agricultural Tax of the People’s Republic of China (1958)” also stipulated that “Where family members of revolutionary martyrs, disabled revolutionary army men in townships and other taxpayers have difficulties in paying taxes due to lack of labor force or for other reasons, the agricultural tax may be reduced or exempted upon approval of the people’s committees of counties, autonomous counties or cities.”58
 
B. Protection of the rights and interests of wounded and army men with disabilities
 
During the revolutionary war times, the CPC provided a series of special guarantees for the recuperation, treatment, living, study, and work of wounded and army men with disabilities. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the protection of the wounded and army men with disabilities had been further developed. In 1950, Chen Yun, in the Decision on Unifying National Financial and Economic Work, proposed that priority shall be given to the preferential treatment and relief for the army men with disabilities gathered together.59 In December 1950, the Provisional Regulations on Preferential Treatment and Pensions for Disabled Revolutionary Army Men were promulgated and put into effect, specifying in detail the levels of disability and the standards of pensions for disabled revolutionary army men. As stipulated in the Conscript Law (1955), “Active servicemen disabled on duty shall receive pensions and preferential treatment from the State.”60 There were also some special provisions for army men with disabilities in local grassroots organizations. For example, the Standard for Trial Implementation of Mount Chayashan Satellite People’s Commune (Draft) (1958) stipulated that appropriate preferential treatment shall be given by the commune to the families of martyrs, servicemen with disabilities, and those on active service who lack labor force in the families.61
 
In addition to preferential treatment and pensions for livelihood, recuperation, and treatment, the rights and interests of servicemen with disabilities in other areas had also been improved. For example, the State Council issued the Decision on Strengthening the Normal Education in Schools for Disabled Revolutionary Military Officers in July 1952, which put forward that the State, in addition to giving preferential treatment and pensions to disabled revolutionary army men, shall educate and cultivate them into various talents for the building of People’s Republic of China. In 1956, the State Council issued another document to give an official reply to the work of the national schools for disabled revolutionary servicemen and the rehabilitation homes for disabled revolutionary servicemen, approving the implementation plan for the rectification of the schools and the plan for strengthening the work on the rehabilitation homes.
 
III. Since the Reform and Opening Up — “People-Centered” Protection of Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities
 
Since the reform and opening up, China has entered a new stage of development. Especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Party and the government have implemented a series of major measures to develop and improve the undertakings related to persons with disabilities. The work focus has shifted from the relief-oriented social welfare in the early stage of reform and opening up to a comprehensive social program covering rehabilitation, education, employment, poverty alleviation, social services, rights protection, culture, sports, barrier-free environment construction, disability prevention, and many other fields. The disabled have gradually developed from the object of social welfare relief to the subject of human rights with dignity, autonomy, and equal rights. The CPC thought on the protection of the disabled has evolved from humanitarianism to people-centered human rights.
 
A. Institutional framework — progress from puniness to unified powerfulness
 
The China Foundation for Disabled Persons was founded in 1984, the China Disabled Persons Federation was founded in 1988, and relevant local organizations were set up in response, thus establishing unified representative organizations covering both urban and rural areas for the disabled. Meanwhile, special associations such as the Association for the Blind, the Association for the Deaf, the China Association of Persons with Physical Disability, and the China Association of persons with intellectual Disability and their Relatives were also established.62 China Disabled Persons Federation and other specialized associations represent the interests of persons with disabilities, playing an increasingly important role in the development of the undertakings for persons with disabilities.
 
B. Policy planning — from fragmented practices to overall coordination
 
Before the reform and opening up, the work for the disabled in China was relatively fragmented with the lack of systematic and overall planning, and the basic work concept was limited to the scope of welfare relief.63 After the reform and opening up, the key step of the undertakings for persons with disabilities was manifest in the overall formulation and implementation of the development plans that were in line with the national economic and social development, making the undertakings the important component of the national economic and social development. In 1988, the first Outline of Five-Year Work on the Undertakings for Persons with Disabilities was issued, to make regulations on legislation, policy formulation, employment, education, rehabilitation, disability prevention, welfare, and environmental construction for persons with disabilities on the whole. It pointed out that the undertakings for persons with disabilities covered many fields and departments, which required strengthening leadership and comprehensive coordination. Since then, the work for persons with disabilities entered the stage of overall planning and coordinated promotion in an integrated and continuous manner. So far, the State Council has approved six five year plans and programs for the development of undertakings for persons with disabilities. The protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities has also been included in the Government Work Reports, the Program for the Development of Women, and the Program for the Development of Children over the years. Moreover,Outline of Poverty Alleviation and Development for the Disabled in Rural Areas (2011-2020), Opinions of the State Council on Accelerating the Process of Promoting a Well-off Life for the Disabled, Outline of the Plan for Accelerating the Process of Well-off Live for Persons with Disabilities during the 13th Five-Year Plan Period, Plan to Promote Equal Access to Basic Public Services during the 13th Five-Year Plan Period, National Action Plan for Disability Prevention (2016-2020), Special Education Promotion Program, and such special plans were adopted in succession, further detailing the tasks and responsibility list for the development of the cause. The three national human rights action plans adopted in China since 2009 have all stipulated the task requirements and indicators for the protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities.
 
C. Laws and regulations — from a single law to law system
 
The first law concerning persons with disabilities after the reform and opening up was the Individual Income Tax Law of the People’s Republic of China (1980). It stipulated that the individual income tax of the disabled, the elderly, and the families of martyrs can be reduced upon approval. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China 1982, as the fundamental law of the state, provides specific provisions concerning the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities. As stipulated in Article 45, “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right to material assistance from the state and society when they are old, ill or disabled. The state develops the social insurance, social relief, and medical and health services that are required to enable citizens to enjoy this right. The state and society ensure the livelihood of disabled members of the armed forces, provide pensions to the families of martyrs and give preferential treatment to the families of military personnel. The state and society help make arrangements for the work, livelihood, and education of the blind, deaf-mute, and other handicapped citizens.” The Right to State and Social Assistance has become an important constitutional right for persons with disabilities.
 
The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons was adopted in December 1990, as the basic law guaranteeing the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities and promoting the development of the cause of Persons with Disabilities. The Law stipulated the equal rights of persons with disabilities, prohibited discrimination against, insults against and infringes upon persons with disabilities, and provided for their rehabilitation, education, employment, cultural life, welfare, and barrier-free environment. The promulgation and implementation of the Law have exerted a far-reaching influence on the protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities, the development of the cause of the disabled, and even the legislation on the protection of social groups.64 In 2004, the stipulation that “State respects and safeguards human rights” was written into the Constitution, which provided a clear constitutional basis for China’s human rights construction, and marked the inclusion of the cause of persons with disabilities in China’s human rights construction. The protection of human rights has also become the guiding ideology of the protection of the rights of the disabled, as well as the premise and basis of the legislation of laws and regulations on the protection of the disabled. The revised Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons in 2008 focused more on ensuring that persons with disabilities participate in social life as active social subjects and equal rights subjects. More emphasis has been laid on individual development and social integration, and the protection of the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities has become more systematized, legalized, and socialized.
 
Since the 18th CPC National Congress, legislation on the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities has been further accelerated. In 2012, the Mental Health Law and the Regulations on the Construction of a Barrier-free Environment were passed; In 2017, the Regulations on Education of Persons with Disabilities was revised, and the Regulations on Prevention of Disabilities and Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities was adopted; In 2020, Civil Code included more than 30 articles directly related to the protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities. China has currently made the legal and regulatory system of protecting the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities, with the Constitution as the core, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons as the main force, and the various regulations as key support. By May 2021, China had nearly 80 laws and more than 70 administrative laws and regulations directly concerning the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities, protecting the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities from different aspects and various fields. For example, the Electoral Law of the National People’s Congress and Local People’s Congresses at Various Levels guarantees the equal right of persons with disabilities to participate in public affairs; The Mental Health Law comprehensively stipulates the rights of persons with mental disorders and clarifies the principle of voluntariness in hospitalization for persons with mental disorders; The Civil Code establishes an institutional system for the protection of the civil rights of the disabled in China.65 The Regulations on Emergency Response to Public Health Emergencies and the State General Emergency Plan for Public Emergencies stipulate the protection of persons with disabilities in emergencies.
 
D. Poverty alleviation and social welfare safeguard for the disabled — not one less
 
Poverty is a great obstacle to the realization of human rights. Eliminating poverty for the disabled and enabling them to obtain better social security is an important issue of concern to the Party and the government. In March 1994, the State Council formulated and promulgated a programmatic document on national poverty alleviation and development, the Seven-Year Priority Poverty Alleviation Program, which emphasized rehabilitation and poverty alleviation for impoverished persons with disabilities.
 
The Poverty Alleviation Program for the Disabled in 1998, the Decision of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Further Strengthening Poverty Alleviation and Development in 1999, the Outline of Poverty Alleviation and Development in Rural China (2001-2010), and the Plan of Poverty Alleviation and Development for the Disabled in Rural Areas (2001-2010) in 2001, the Notice of the State Council on Establishing a Rural Minimum Living Guarantee System throughout the Country in 2007, the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Promoting the Development of the Cause of the Disabled in 2008, etc., proposed to guarantee the welfare of the disabled from poverty alleviation, living assistance, housing security, medical security, subsistence security system, free education, social insurance, social services, property trust for the disabled, and other aspects. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Party has attached great importance to poverty alleviation for persons with disabilities, strengthened top-level design and detailed implementation, and made persons with disabilities the focus of targeted poverty alleviation. By the end of 2020, China had achieved the goal of providing poor persons with disabilities and their families with adequate food, clothing, compulsory education, basic medical care, and safe housing. In the past five years, more than 7 million registered persons with disabilities had been lifted out of poverty on schedule, creating a miracle in the history of poverty reduction for this special group.66
 
Social welfare serves as basic security for the disabled.67 After the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the social welfare security for the disabled had institutional innovation made. In 2013, the State Council proposed to strengthen relief and assistance to people in need and to establish a System of Living Subsidies for Disabled Persons with Difficulties and Nursing Subsidies for Persons with Severe Disabilities. In 2015, the State Council issued the Opinions on Comprehensively Establishing a System of Living Subsidies for Disabled Persons with Difficulties and Nursing Subsidies for Persons with Severe Disabilities, which was formally put into effect nationwide on January 1, 2016. As the first specialized welfare system for the disabled created at the national level, the “two Subsidies” is the specialized institutional arrangement for the special living difficulties and long-term care difficulties of persons with disabilities, which made an effective link to such systems as subsistence allowances, filling in gaps in the welfare system for the disabled in China, as strong institutional support for increasing the income of families with poor persons with disabilities and achieving stable poverty alleviation. So far, more than 24 million people with difficulties and severe disabilities have received living and
nursing subsidies.68
 
E. Education for the disabled — from special education to integrated education
 
Special education is the main form of education for the disabled developed by the Party and the government at the beginning of reform and opening up. The Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on the Reform of the Education System in 1985 demanded to “develop special education for the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the disabled and the mentally challenged children” while implementing nine-year compulsory education. Provisions were made for vigorously developing special education for children with disabilities in all five-year plans for national economic and social development, and such laws and regulations as Outline of Education Reform and Development in China, Regulations on Education for Persons with Disabilities, Education Law, Action Plan of the Ministry of Education for Revitalizing Education in the 21st Century, and Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council on Deepening Education Reform and Comprehensively Promoting Quality Education.
 
After ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, China began to actively promote integrated education in accordance with the Convention. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, integrated education and reasonable convenience in the field of education have achieved innovative development. The Opinions of the State Council on Promoting the Balanced Development of Compulsory Education issued in 2012 called for more attention to the development of special education and required to run special education classes or provide the opportunity of education attendance in regular schools for children with disabilities and adolescents who can receive ordinary education. The revised Regulations on the Education for the Disabled in 2017 stipulated that the state guarantees the right of persons with disabilities to equal access to education, prohibited any discrimination against disability in education, actively promoted integrated education, and adopted ordinary education or special education with priority given to ordinary education according to the type of disabilities and the acceptance capacity of persons with disabilities. The revised Regulations made detailed provisions on the implementation conditions of integrated education. On May 17, 2015, the Regulations on the Administration of the National College Entrance Examination for People with Disabilities (Interim) was issued, making clear for the first time that the entrance examination institutions at all levels shall provide equal opportunities and reasonable convenience for people with disabilities to take the college entrance examination. The Regulations on the Administration of the National College Entrance Examination for People with Disabilities made in 2017 officially required education examination institutions at all levels to provide necessary support and reasonable convenience for people with disabilities to take the college entrance examination.
 
F. Employment of the disabled — from centralized settlement to multichannel,multi-level and multi-form employment
 
Promoting the employment of the disabled is an important goal of the Party and the government. At the early stage of the reform and opening up, welfare enterprises developed rapidly, the number of disabled workers resettled was greatly increased,and the normalized standards were made for the recruitment of disabled workers and the qualification of welfare enterprises.69 It is required to gradually shift the focus of employment security for the disabled from supportive settlement to employability development to realize the comprehensive and equal development of the disabled.70 In 1990, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons made significant development on the basic principles governing the employment of persons with disabilities, stipulating that “the principle of combining centralization with decentralization shall be followed, and preferential policies and supportive and protective measures shall be adopted to make employment for the disabled gradually popular, stable and reasonable through multiple channels, at various levels, and in various forms”, and a proportional employment system for the disabled had been formulated. With the improvement of the market economic system, such modes of “independent employment” as individual employment and flexible employment, and proportional employment for persons with disabilities have gradually replaced the “centralized employment” as the main mode of employment for persons with disabilities.
 
In the process of China’s transition from a planned economy to a market economy, the Party and the government have repeatedly emphasized the importance of avoiding the unemployment of the national and provincial (ministerial) ? level model workers, the families of martyrs, and the disabled, and vigorously supported the disabled to obtain employment or gather together for spontaneous employment. The Civil Servant Law in 2005 stipulated that civil servants who are disabled on duty enjoy the disability treatment prescribed by the state, and those confirmed to totally or partially lose the ability to work due to work-related disabilities shall not be dismissed.
 
The Regulations on the Employment of Persons with Disabilities and the Employment Promotion Law were passed in 2007, and the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons was revised and the Opinions on Promoting the Development of the Undertakings of Disabled Persons was issued in 2008. The Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities was committed to safeguarding their right to work and enhancing their employability under the principle of equality and non-discrimination. Guided by the principles of combining centralized employment with decentralized employment, the Policy aims to create a fair employment environment, improve the ability of persons with disabilities to be integrated into society, and form a multi-employment pattern for persons with disabilities.71 After the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party and the government have adopted a series of measures, such as implementing the tax policy of entrepreneurship and employment for persons with disabilities, expanding business subsidies to impoverished disabled family, strengthening the policy and financial support to vocational education for the disabled, and conducting vocational training on skill upgrading and entrepreneurship training for the key groups including the disabled. The vocational skills, employment, and entrepreneurial ability of persons with disabilities shall be comprehensively improved, and employers shall be given greater incentives to arrange employment for persons with disabilities, so as to better promote employment for the group.
 
G. Protection of the rights and interests of army men with disabilities — legalized development
 
The Party and the government have always attached great importance to the settlement and security of ex-servicemen. In 1981, the State Council established the Leading Group for the Settlement of Veterans and Retired Military Cadres, and further strengthened the legalization of the affairs concerning the discharge of the injured, sick and servicemen with disabilities. The National Defense Law in 1997 stipulated that “the state and society give preferential treatment to servicemen with disabilities, and provide special protection for their livelihood and medical treatment in accordance with the law. The people’s governments at or above the county level shall, upon discharge from active service, promptly accept and place servicemen with disabilities who are disabled or sick due to war or duty and shall ensure that their living standards are not lower than the local average”. On July 3, 2009, the Regulations on the Settlement of Disabled and Injured Servicemen were promulgated. It is the first time that the Chinese government and the PLA have made comprehensive regulations in the form of military administrative regulations on such issues as the mode in which the injured, sick and servicemen with disabilities are discharged, the housing, and the medical security. After the 18th CPC National Congress, new developments have been made in the construction of the institutional framework and the working mechanism for the resettlement security of ex-servicemen. In October 2017, the report of the 19th CPC National Congress put forward the establishment of management for veterans, and the Ministry of Veterans Affairs was formally established in March 2018. In 2019, the State Council amended the Regulations on Commendation of Martyrs, stipulating that children of martyrs who are under the age of 18, or who have reached the age of 18 but have no source of income due to disability or schooling, shall enjoy a regular pension. With the economic and social development, the state has also gradually raised the criterion of pension for servicemen with disabilities. In 2006, the disability pension for servicemen with disabilities was raised by 30 percent over that of 2005. Since the tenth Five-Year Plan, the state has raised subsidies by an average annual rate of about 15 percent to ensure that the living standards of key entitled groups keep pace with social development.
 
H. Social services and cultural development for persons with disabilities — strengthening top-level design
 
Access to social services and support is an important guarantee for people with disabilities to exercise their rights and enjoy their rights and interests. In 2006, the Opinions of the State Council on Strengthening and Improving Community Services were issued, with special reference to providing services for the disabled and people in extreme poverty to ease their living difficulties. The Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Promoting the Development of the Program for Persons with Disabilities in 2008 clearly stated that the service system for Persons with Disabilities shall be improved, and social services for Persons with Disabilities became a core content and strategic task in safeguarding Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities.
 
The State Council issued the Notice on the Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of Social Security System and Service System for Persons with Disabilities in March 2010, and the Outline for the Development of the Chinese Undertakings of Persons with Disabilities during the 12th Five-Year Plan Period and the Plan for the Construction of a Community Service System (2011-2015) in 2011, which strengthened the top-level design, and defined the scope of social public services during the 12th Five-Year Plan period.72 In 2018, the Measures on the Administration of Service Agencies for the Disabled were adopted, further standardizing institutions that provide support, cultivation, care, rehabilitation, supplementary employment, and other services for the disabled. In 2019, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Opinions on Accelerating the Construction of the Public Legal Service System, requiring the protection of the rights and interests of basic public legal services for the disabled and other special groups.
 
In 2008, the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Promoting the Development of the Undertakings of the Disabled proposed to promote cultural and sports programs for the disabled. In 2011, the CPC Central Committee also issued the Decision on Several Major Issues Concerning Deepening the Reform of the Cultural System and Promoting the Great Development and Prosperity of Socialist Culture, proposing to improve public cultural service facilities for the disabled and strengthen cultural construction for the disabled. In 2012, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and other departments issued the Opinions on Strengthening Cultural Construction for the Disabled, requiring equal public cultural services and individualized cultural services for the disabled.
 
I. Medical rehabilitation and protection of health rights and interests — strengthening mechanism construction
 
Since the reform and opening up, China has actively explored the creation of rehabilitation medicine.73 In 1985, the China Foundation for Disabled Persons prepared for the establishment of a rehabilitation association dedicated to the rehabilitation and health care of persons with disabilities.74 In 1990, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons added a special article to define “rehabilitation”, requiring the state and society to take various forms to provide effective rehabilitation services for the disabled. The Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons amended in 2008 stipulated that “the state shall protect the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy rehabilitation services”, and “give priority to rescued treatment and rehabilitation of children with disabilities”. In 2011, the state began to implement such programs as the rescued rehabilitation for poverty-stricken children with disabilities and the public welfare funds for rehabilitation from the special lottery for the disabled.
 
After the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the right to health and the protection of medical rehabilitation for the disabled ushered in a new stage of development. On August 19, 2016, Xi Jinping proposed at the National Hygiene and Health Conference to strive to achieve the goal of “all enjoying rehabilitation services” for the disabled. In January 2017, the State Council adopted the Regulations on the Prevention of Disabilities and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, which called for the principle of putting prevention first and combining prevention with rehabilitation and the state shall take measures to provide basic rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities, support and help them to be integrated into society. To guarantee the basic right of children with disabilities to rehabilitation more comprehensively and sustainably, the State Council issued the Opinions on Establishing the Rehabilitation and Assistance System for Disabled Children in June 2018 and formally made the rehabilitation and assistance system for children with disabilities. On December 28, 2019, the Law on Basic Medical Care and Health Promotion was adopted. The Law is the basic law on the protection of the right to health in China, including three provisions concerning health services for persons with disabilities. Article 26 of the Law specifically stipulates that the state shall develop disability prevention and rehabilitation undertakings, and take measures to provide basic rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities.
 
J. Construction of barrier-free environment — starting from scratch and expanding gradually
 
A barrier-free environment is indispensable for the disabled to participate in the social life on an equal basis and a significant symbol of social civilization. The Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities passed in 1990 stipulated that the state and society shall gradually implement regulations for the planning of roads and buildings for the convenience of the disabled and adopt barrier-free measures. In 2008, China amended the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons by changing the title of Chapter VII to “barrier-free environment” and supplementing the content. Provisions have been made on improving barrier-free facilities, promoting information accessibility, providing accessible examinations, supporting barrier-free research on design and development, and taking guide dogs in and out of public places. It also stipulates that the departments that organize elections shall provide convenience for persons with disabilities to participate in elections, and shall provide Braille ballots for blind persons where conditions permit.
 
In 2012, the State Council adopted the Regulations on the Construction of the Barrier-Free Environment, which stipulates in detail the construction of barrier-free facilities, barrier-free information exchange, barrier-free community services, and legal responsibilities, and calls for the creation of a barrier-free environment to ensure that people with disabilities and other members of society participate in the social life on an equal basis. After the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the construction of a barrier-free environment has received more attention, and the construction of a barrier-free environment in various fields has been gradually carried out. In 2019, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Outline for Building a Transport Power, which set the goal of “basic improvement of the system of barrier-free travel services”. Article 281 of the Civil Code passed in 2020 stipulates that maintenance funds can be used for the maintenance, renewal,and renovation of barrier-free facilities, etc., which is the first time that the national basic laws beyond the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons has made a direct provision on “barrier-free”. A white paper titled “Sustainable Development of the Chinese Transport” in December 2020 reiterated that the system of barrier-free travel services shall be improved by 2035. In February 2021, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Outline of the National Comprehensive Multidimensional Transport Network Plan. It emphasized that the construction of barrier-free facilities shall be taken as an important measure to promote the high-quality development of comprehensive transportation, the construction of barrier-free facilities shall be strengthened, the barrier-free equipment and devices shall be improved, and the travel convenience and service level of special groups shall be improved.
 
Information accessibility is an important field of accessibility construction. In September 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation issued the Guiding Opinions on Promoting Barrier-Free Information, which improved the top-level design of the construction of the information accessibility environment and required that a relatively complete information barrierfree product-service system and standard system shall be established by the end of 2025. On November 23, 2020, the National Common Sign Language Program for the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China was released, which is the latest achievement of the standardization of the national common sign language for the first time with deaf users as the main body.
 
K. International exchanges and cooperation in the protection of the rights and interests of persons with disabilities
 
Under the leadership of the CPC, China has actively responded to and participated in international campaigns for Persons with Disabilities, and carried out international cooperation in protecting the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities. In April 1981, China established the Organizing Committee for the International Year of Persons with Disabilities, and later held a conference on the International Year of Persons with Disabilities, issuing commemorative stamps. In response to the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, China has participated in the Decade of the United Nations Disabled Persons (1983-1992), Decade of the Asia-Pacific Disabled Persons (1993-2002), and other actions. On December 28, 1994, the Chinese government signed the Declaration on the Full Participation and Equality of Persons with Disabilities in the Asia-Pacific Region, stressing that efforts shall be made for persons with disabilities, the most vulnerable group in society, to create a social and material environment where everyone can participate and to realize a society for all. On September 5, 1987, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress adopted a decision on ratifying Convention No.159 on the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities. China also actively advocated and participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and contributed its wisdom to its formulation. China became one of the first signatories to the Convention and was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress as a contracting party to the Convention in 2008. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party and the government have actively promoted international exchanges and cooperation in Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities, taking them as an important part of China’s participation in international exchanges and cooperation on human rights, and working with other countries to jointly promote the protection of the human Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 
IV. Conclusion
 
Over the past 100 years, the CPC has made remarkable achievements in protecting the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities. People with disabilities are increasingly participating in social development and sharing the fruits of development, and their sense of achievement, happiness, and security has been continuously improved. The century-old process of the Party’s protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities fully reflects the Party’s people-centered concept of human rights protection and the times-changing thought of human rights development.
 
First, the Party’s protection of the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities has evolved with the times. After the establishment of the Party, the primary task was to lead and mobilize the masses to carry out the new democratic revolution. The humanitarian aid thought of the disabled was the guiding ideology of the Party in safeguarding the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities at that time. The Party has formulated a large number of policies and regulations and adopted numerous measures to provide relief to the disabled and provide preferential treatment to the injured, sick, and servicemen with disabilities. After the founding of New China, the Party and the government led the people in completing the transition from a new democratic society to a socialist society. In the course of building a socialist country with no spare efforts, the Party, guided by the thought of humanitarian protection for the disabled, provides such guarantees as housing relief, “Five Guarantees” care, concentrated employment, and special education for the disabled. After the reform and opening up, the cause of Persons with Disabilities under the leadership of the CPC is gradually carried out in an all-round way, and the idea of human Rights protection gradually becomes the basic idea of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities, including education, rehabilitation, employment, social services, etc. with a human rights component under the CPC leadership.
 
Second, after the reform and opening up, the cause of the disabled has developed in an all-around way from Survival Assistance as the priority to integrated advance on the whole. Especially after the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the Party and the government continue to improve Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities, enhance the top-level design in various fields, implement overall coordination of policy planning, improve laws and regulations as well as institutions and mechanisms, and actively participate in international exchanges and cooperation in the protection of human Rights for Persons with Disabilities. The protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities has gradually developed from scattered and fragmented charitable and welfare undertakings to systematic and law-based human rights protection.
 
Third, under the leadership of the CPC, the main identity of the disabled has also gone through a process of transformation from the object to the subject. At first, the disabled were mainly protected as the objects of revolutionary humanitarianism to get relief guarantees. In the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Party and the government developed various social undertakings, but the disabled are still mainly the objects of medical rehabilitation and social welfare relief. After the reform and opening up, with the development of the Party’s people-centered concept of human rights, the disabled have finally become independent subjects of human rights with dignity, freedom, and equality, enjoying the qualifications and status as the subject of Rights in the laws and regulations related to the protection of Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities. Especially in recent years, the Party and the government have promoted barrier-free construction, the reform of the guardianship system, the integrated education, the construction of the social service system, and the open employment measures of various levels and channels. It has continuously empowered persons with disabilities, respected their independence, autonomy, value, and dignity as human rights subjects, enhanced their participation in all aspects of social life, and better achieved the goals of “equality, participation, and sharing”.
 
(Translated by XU Chao)

* QU Xiangfei ( 曲相霏 ), Researcher of the Institute of International Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Professor of School of Law, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. This paper is a research result of the major planning project of Renmin University of China “History of Thoughts on Human Rights in China” (20XNLG02).
 
2. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 2 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 352.
 
3. All-China Federation of Trade Unions, Literature of Chinese Trade Union Congresses, vol. 1 (Beijing: Workers Press, 1984).
 
4. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 4 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 50.
 
5. Xiang Zicheng, “Historical Research on the Legal Issues of the Protection of the Persons of Disabilities in China” (PhD diss., China University of Political Science and Law, 2004), page 150.
 
6. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru, Compilation of Legal Documents in Revolutionary Base Areas (Volume II) (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2013), 1386.
 
7. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 8 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 713.
 
8. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru Compilation of Legal Documents in Revolutionary Base Areas (Volume II ) (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2013), 1408.
 
9. Ibid., 1447.
 
10. Ibid., 1457.
 
11. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 2 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 384.
 
12. Chen Liming, etc., Dictionary of the Chinese Soviet Area (Jiangxi: Jiangxi People’s Publishing House, 1998),374.
 
13. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 8 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 725.
 
14. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 9 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 170.
 
15. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 16 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 54.
 
16. Xiang Zicheng, “Historical Research on the Legal Issues of the Protection of the Persons of Disabilities in China” (PhD diss., China University of Political Science and Law, 2004), page 149.
 
17. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 17 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 384.
 
18. Work History Research Office of Shaanxi Federation of Trade Unions, Selected Historical Materials of Labor Movement in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region (I) (Beijing: Workers Press, 1988), 561.
 
19. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 18 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 634.
 
20. Ibid.
 
21. Ibid.
 
22. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 19 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 429.
 
23. Chen Wenbin and Wu Guoyou, Historical Events of the Communist Party of China: From the First National Congress to the Eighteenth National Congress, vol. 1 (Beijing: Red Flag Press, 2013), 514.
 
24. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru, Compilation of Legal Documents in Revolutionary Base Areas, vol. 1 (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2013), 536.
 
25. Xiang Zicheng, “Historical Research on the Legal Issues of the Protection of the Persons of Disabilities in China” (PhD diss., China University of Political Science and Law, 2004), page 150.
 
26. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 22 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 161.
 
27. Ibid., 267.
 
28. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 23 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 54.
 
29. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 25 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 142.
 
30. Xiang Zicheng, “Historical Research on the Legal Issues of the Protection of the Persons of Disabilities in China” (PhD diss., China University of Political Science and Law, 2004), page 149.
 
31. Ibid., 150.
 
32. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 26 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 763.
 
33. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 5 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 140.
 
34. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 7 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 594.
 
35. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 8 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 731.
 
36. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru Compilation of Legal Documents in Revolutionary Base Areas (Volume II) (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2013), 1089.
 
37. Ibid., 1124.
 
38. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 25 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 17.
 
39. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru Compilation of Legal Documents in Revolutionary Base Areas (Volume II) (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2013), 1274.
 
40. Ibid., 1356.
 
41. Ibid., 21.
 
42. Chen Wenbin and Wu Guoyou, Historical Events of the Communist Party of China: From the First National Congress to the Eighteenth National Congress, vol. 1 (Beijing: Red Flag Press, 2013), 514.
 
43. Ibid., 280.
 
44. Han Yanlong and Chang Zhaoru, Compilation of Legal Documents in Revolutionary Base Areas, vol. 1 (Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2013), 635.
 
45. Zhang Yanhui, “Research on the Performance Evaluation of China’s Social Security System for the Disabled” (PhD. diss., Jilin University, 2008); Wu Junmin, “The Evolution of Social Policy for the Disabled in China: Experiences, Problems and Next Action”, Theory and Reform 3 (2012); Yao Jinzhong and Chen Rongrong, “70 Years of Social Welfare for the Disabled in China: Historical Evolution and Logical Path”, Humanities Magazine 11 (2019); Liu Jingjiao, “From State-Oriented to Demand-Oriented: The Transformation of Social Security Goals for the Disabled in China”, Social Science Front 7 (2018).
 
46. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 1 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 37.
 
47. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 2 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 53.
 
48. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 6 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 468.
 
49. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 11 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 137.
 
50. Ibid., 233.
 
51. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 14 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 254.
 
52. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 15 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 392.
 
53. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 16 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 167.
 
54. Yang Lixiong, “Research on the Development of Welfare Enterprises in China”, Chinese Economic Issues 4 (2019): 49-58.
 
55. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 8 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 468.
 
56. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 11 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 344.
 
57. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 14 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 344.
 
58. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 11 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 308
 
59. Chen Yun, Selected Works of Chen Yun, vol. 2 (Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1984), 65.
 
60. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 7 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 36.
 
61. The State Archives Administration of the People’s Republic of China and Literature Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, Selected Significant Works since the Founding of the CPC (1921-1949), vol. 11 (Beijing: Central Party Literature Press, 2011), 344.
 
62. In 1993, China Association for Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Disabled and China Association for Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Disorders were established separately, and the former was renamed as the China Association of persons with lntellectual Disability and their Relatives in 2003. On December 7, 2006, China Association for the Blind became a legal entity with the approval of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. At present, all the special associations for the disabled have been approved by the Ministry of Civil Affairs as legal entities.
 
63. Wang Zhijiang, “Review and Prospect of the Implementation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Disabled Persons”, Disability Research 1 (2011).
 
64. Ibid.
 
65. Wang Zhijiang, “Realize Equality: the Basic Concept and Value Pursuit of the Rights and Interests of Persons with Disabilities protected by Civil Code”, Disability Research 9 (2020).
 
66. “More than 7 million poor disabled people in China have been lifted out of poverty during the 13th Five-Year Plan period with historic achievements made in the fight against poverty”, Chinanews.com, accessed March 30, 2021, https://baijiahao.baidu.com,/s?id-1692658440056034564&wfr-spider&for-pc.
 
67. Li Caimao, “The Basic Security Status of Social Welfare from the Perspective of Disabled Persons”, Disability Research 1 (2011).
 
68. Xi Jinping, “Speech at the National Poverty Reduction Summarization and Commendation Conference”, Xinhua Net., accessed March 25, 2021, http://www.xinhuanet.com/poli-tics/leaders/021-02/25/c_1127140240.htm.
 
69. Interim Provisions on the Recruitment of Disabled Workers by Social Welfare Enterprises (17 August 1989); Measures for the Qualification Recognition of Welfare Enterprises (29 June 2007).
 
70. Gao Yuanyuan, “From Supportive Settlement to Ability Development: A Study on the Transformation of Employment Security for Persons with Disabilities”, Western Forum 5 (2017).
 
71. Dong Caisheng and Jie Jiadong, “The Transformation and Innovation of Employment Policy for Persons with Disabilities”, Disability Research 9 (2017).
 
72. Guo Chunning, “New Chapter in the Construction of Social Security System and Service System for the Disabled”, Disability Research 2 (2011); Li Caimao, et al., “Explanation on the Gist of the Construction of Service System for the Disabled”, Disability Research 4 (2013).
 
73. Cui Yueli, “Focus on the Development of Rehabilitation for the Disabled”, Hospital Management 6 (1984):3-4.
 
74. DENG Pufang, “Remarks by Comrade DENG Pufang at the Preparatory Committee Meeting of the China Foundation for Disabled Persons”, China Rehabilitation, November 26, 1985.

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