Disabled Citizens' Rights Highlighted at China's 13th Annual Disability Assistance Day

May 23, 2005

Chinese disabled persons and their supporters and advocates celebrated the 13th National Disability Assistance Day on May 15. This year's events highlighted problems the disabled have in getting and maintaining employment. Provincial and county officials across China held special events designed to help disabled citizens understand their rights and the special government programs that exist to assist them. According to the China Disabled Person's Federation (CDPF), over 83 percent of China's disabled citizens are now employed, owing principally to the efforts of officials staffing more than 3,000 special disability employment assistance centers. Since the creation of the CDPF in 1988, the employment rate for disabled rural citizens has increased from 50 percent to over 75 percent.

The Chinese government has developed several policies and laws to help disabled citizens find jobs. The 1990 Disability Law (for English translation look here) requires work units to meet hiring quotas for disabled citizens or be fined for noncompliance. Provincial governments determine the specific quotas for state offices, NGOs, enterprises, and collectives within their jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, China's disabled continue to face challenges in finding and keeping jobs. In the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, for example, CDPF board member Yang Biliu, reported this week that employment levels for the disabled are well below the region's average, and their salaries on average are 40 percent below those of non-disabled workers. Yang noted that of Xinjiang's 530,300 disabled citizens, 300,000 have incomes below the nationally designated "low income level" and 22 percent of urban handicapped workers are unemployed. Yang said that unemployment figures for the disabled are on the rise in Xinjiang.