China looks to expand disability services

China’s State Council, its cabinet, approved May 11 a five-year plan for improving public services to the country’s estimated 83 million people with disabilities.

The plan aims to include all people with disabilities in its old-age insurance and basic medical insurance programs by 2015, according to a statement from China’s official news agency, Xinhua. It will also “establish a social care system” for people with disabilities by providing subsidies for care for two million people with physical disabilities in the next five years.

Ten million people with disabilities will also receive work opportunities in rural areas, where 70 percent of the country’s population lives, under the plan, as well as one million individuals in urban areas.

The State Council has also vowed to offer tax benefits for employers who hire people with disabilities. To qualify, at least 25 percent of the businesses’ full-time employees must be people with disabilities.

According to a study from the Beijing Review, government spending on programs for people with disabilities from 2006 to 2010 doubled from the previous five year period.

The study highlights a program to build special education schools and a program that provides subsidies for people with disabilities in rural areas to become small business owners. The program is credited with rising more than six million people in rural areas out of poverty.