Interview: Paralympic games shows a friendly China for the disabled

China’s ongoing national Paralympic games highlights the country’s recent improvements in accessibility and accommodation for disabled people, according to Majed Rashed, President of the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC).

“A national Paralympic games is not just about sports, metals and competitions, it is about a friendly country for people with disabilities,” Rashed told Xinhua in a recent interview during the 10th National Games for Persons with Disabilities & the 7th National Special Olympics Games.

The Games are being held between August 25 and September 1 in north China’s Tianjin municipality, featuring 25 events for the Games for Persons with Disabilities and eight for the Special Olympic Games.

“China is now at the top of the Paralympic games ranking,” he said. “Hosting a sporting event like this is important in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

“You can feel the differences now in China, compared to when I came to the country for the first time in 2007, for the Special Olympics World Summer Games, when I was the head of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) delegation,” added Rashed, who has been to China ten times.

China’s large population means it also has a considerable number of disabled people, and the Chinese government is improving policies and rules to offer equal opportunities to everyone, including the handicapped, according to Rashed.

“What do I mean by equal? People with disabilities should have access to different kinds of services in the country. In education, we need accessible schools and qualified teachers. In healthcare, accessible hospitals and qualified doctors are necessary,” he said.

Rashed thinks that China’s barrier-free environment has improved a lot for disabled people, especially those in wheelchairs.

“I can get on public transportation easily, and there is room for a wheelchair in my hotel. It is easy for me to go to the toilet now, there is no risk and no danger,” he said.

“With the efforts of [China Disabled Persons’ Federation president] Zhang Haidi and the Chinese government, I can feel the change in China compared with before, and I believe it will continue in the right direction in future,” Rashed added.