Zhang vows to continue to work for a better future for people with disabilities

In an article she wrote for a book on China’s political advisory cause, Zhang Haidi, president of Rehabilitation International (RI) and chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), recalled her experience as having worked as a member of the National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country’s top political advisory body, since March 1998. The following are excerpts:
My first proposal to the National Committee of CPPCC was on building barrier-free facilities in airports, stations, and ports 23 years ago. Every year since then, I have made proposals relating to affairs of people with disabilities that concern almost every aspect of their lives and work. To my pleasure, some of the proposals have been transformed into policies and realities through the joint efforts of different departments, bringing tangible benefits to people with disabilities.
Over the past 23 years, I have always reminded myself of my responsibility to speak for people with disabilities in the country to make their life better and more convenient.
Among the 85 million people with disabilities in China – over 6% of the total population – more than 25 million are with severe disabilities. I have been working for the CDPF for 13 years. Every year, I go to the grassroots level to do research, especially in poverty-stricken areas and the homes of poverty-stricken people with disabilities. Only through in-depth research can we see the real situation, experience their plight, and reflect their most urgent problems in our proposals.
It was through such fact-finding missions that I realized that social care services are the most realistic and urgent solution to helping people with severe disabilities address their difficulties. Since 2008, I have repeatedly called for attention to the issue of care for people with severe disabilities at the annual sessions of the CPPCC National Committee, suggesting that the government and social organizations should set up care institutions for people with severe disabilities who have no one to take care of themselves or lack care, and provide them with care, rehabilitation, and medical assistance.
I am glad to see that as of 2018, there are more than 8,400 nursing institutions for people with severe disabilities nationwide, nearly double the number in 2012, thanks to joint efforts of different departments.
In July 2021, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, issued the 14th Five-year Plan (2021-25) for the Protection and Development of Persons with Disabilities, which clearly states that “the country will accelerate the development of care and care services for persons with disabilities.” During the 14th Five-year Plan period, the central authorities will allocate 300 million yuan ($44.64 million) per year to continue to support, guide, and expand the development of care services for persons with disabilities, especially in the central and western regions. As a member of the CPPCC National Committee, I will continue to support and speak for 85 million people with disabilities and work to create a better future with and for them.