Chinese President Xi Jinping (front) speaks when meeting 165 disabled people who were honored as national role models for their self-reliance at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 16, 2014. Top chinese leaders Li Keqiang, Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli also attended the ceremony. Also commended were 200 institutions and 133 individuals for help they had provided for the disabled. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)
BEIJING, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday sent his respects to the nation's disabled people and called for greater efforts to improve their lives.
Xi made the remarks when meeting 165 disabled people who were honored as national role models for their self-reliance at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
China has about 85 million disabled people, accounting for nearly 6.3 percent of the total population.
Xi said the living conditions of disabled people have drastically improved since the country's reform and opening up drive and with the support of the entire nation.
The group had also played an important role in pushing forward China's reforms and stable development, he said.
Citing China Disabled Persons' Federation chairwoman Zhang Haidi - a writer, translator and national role model who has been handicapped since the 1980s - as an example of self-reliance, he said disabled people have provided inspiration and encouragement for the nation.
The group of 165 who were commended was the fifth batch of such honorees since 1991, when China began to honor disabled citizens for their unyielding spirit in the face of adversity.
Also commended were 200 institutions and 133 individuals for help they had provided for the disabled.
Xi said he hoped they would continue to offer assistance to the country's disabled population, and he encouraged more people to join their ranks.
He also ordered governments, party committees and disabled persons' federations to better safeguard the legitimate rights of disabled people.
"The Chinese Dream is the dream of our nation, our country, and of every single Chinese - and that includes all of our disabled friends," Xi said.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, meanwhile, called for greater reform and innovation efforts to make sure that "disabled people share the fruits of China's economic and social development".
Zhang said the entire country should be mobilized to build a social environment in which disabled people are respected and cared for.
Efforts must also be made to better protect the political, social, economic and cultural rights of disabled people, and improve public services for the disabled and their social inclusion, he said.