The greatest ethical challenge between the United States and China is human rights, especially the disabled person’s rights. The relationship between the United States and China is presently strengthening. It has been almost four decades since the United States and China started to communicate with each other. With the great effort that has been put into this relationship, this bond between nations is growing stronger. This relationship is flourishing and becoming one of the most important and active relationships in the world. The amount of trade volume has reached up to $4,466 million a year, and this number is 182 times more than at the beginning of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and United States. The amount of travellers between these two countries is approximately ten thousand daily, which is a dramatic increase from the beginning of our interpersonal relationship. This number has increased from ten thousand annually, and has been on the rise. The rise in travelers has sparked more flights to circulate between these two countries. With our ever-present relationship, more than 160,000 Chinese students are studying in the United States, while 24,000 Americans are studying in China. Since 2003, Almost 26 meetings were held between these two countries. The Sino-US joint statement was declared on Dec 19, 2009 where the former president, Mr. Hu was invited to visit the United States. This is a major step forward in international relations and had a positive impact on future relations between China and The United States.
In the past, the topic about human rights was a very sensitive topic that not many wanted to shed light on. Things began to change recently when President Xi visited the United States. President Xi said, “this human rights issue will become better and better and China will try its best to take effective methods to make our society become better.” Human rights is the most important and basic thing that should be considered when people starting to communicate with each other, so the greatest ethic challenge between The United States and China is human rights, especially disabled rights.
I understand why human rights is a very sensitive topic between the United States and China. The United States is a very developed country, while China still has a lot of rooms for improvement. The first big step was already taken, which is awareness of this problem and effort to improve it. The definition of human rights, defined by the United Nations is; Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our own human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible. Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law, general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.
As a normal Chinese citizen, there is one important right I really am concerned about and focus on, which is disabilities’ rights. From the introduction I’ve been defining the relationship between the United States and china. This shapes my discussion as we move into the field of human rights, and inextricably, disabilities’ rights. The United Nations views persons with disabilities as having “legal rights” and protects them from discrimination. As a disabled youth, the ongoing discrimination happened everyday in my life. There were a lot of things I could not do, that others were able to do. I have suffered from the judgments from others on a daily basis. I don’t like these feelings, so I want to this article to help people understand disabled people more and what disabled people need. I also want to compare my own experiences in China to those in The United States, so more people can help the disabled have a better life.
The experience I had in the United States was one that I wouldn’t take back. I count myself lucky to have had an experience to see how they live and interact with others. Since that experience I’ve been able to compare my life here in china to the experiences I had in the United States. I took a trip to the United States for a program called Mobility International USA’s 2011 U,S./China Inclusive Sports and Recreation. This program was for youth with Disabilities. My journey lasted form April 23-May 5,2011 in Eugene, Oregon. During the program, there is one thing that left an impact on me; this “impact” is called “barrier-free” which is an accessible way for people who are disabled or handicapped individuals to live life in a accessible way.
I haven’t always been disabled; in fact, I became a disabled when I was sixteen years old. Because I got sick, I needed different surgeries that affected my ability to walk normally, so I need a crutch to help me walk now. Before my disability I had never been concerned or imagined what kind of life people with disabilities have. Education was the first thing that changed in my life and made me feel depressed. I used to study in a private school, although it is a new school, it had no barrier-free facilities around the campus. I had a very difficult time during my time in my high school. I had spent a lot of time walking between the dormitories and teaching building, climbing up the stairs, etc. I could not concentrate on my studying, I felt so tired, and so I quit. I chose to stay at home because I thought there is no hope in my life. One thing I didn’t want was to see my parents have to give up their plans and stay to help me around campus. Another reason that I gave up high school is that I was afraid that these kinds of things would also happen during my time at college. When I came to the United States, things were vastly different. I had opportunities to visit different kinds of schools from primary school to college. The schools in The United States are completely barrier-free. These schools also offer services for those students with disabilities that need help. This help came from both teachers and other students.
Everyone knows that education is one of the most important aspects to success and life. No education means you will have more barriers; barriers in communication arise with lack of education and in turn, you might not be able understand what is happening around you. I am so lucky that my parents have helped me a great deal with my studies, so I have a chance to go to Guangzhou English Training Center for Handicapped to study and obtain an associate degree in business English. How about other disabled people? Some don’t have many skills; many of them can only stay at home to become a burden on their family or the community. As I know, they want to continue their studies too and also want to have a better life, but the school cannot offer him/her a barrier-free environment to study. I’ve met many-disabled people in my hometown. They’ve always lived at the bottom of our community. They could not find a good job because of their poor educational background. Some companies would like to hire a disabled person because the company can get a tax reduction. Most of the time, that person will have a very hard time working there because they are not qualified for those positions because of their poor educational background. If could get education, especially higher education, they probably could have a better life, so they will not be a burden on society, instead, they could become a very useful person and create value for our society. I always heard that there are many disabled high school students that have been excellent in their college entrance exam, but have a difficult time attending colleges or universities. Many parents have to give up their job to study with their child, because they would like their child have a better future. There is a department in most of the U.S. universities or colleges, called “Disability Services.”. This department helps students with disabilities have a more convenient and better life on campus. They offer services or some helpful equipment such as; automobile wheelchairs for some disabled students, so they don’t need to worry about mobility on or around campus. This helps them because they can concentrate on their studies. These students can have a college life just like anyone else. I’ve always had a dream that I could go to college just like anyone else and experience the college life. If the colleges or universalities in China had similar departments and barrier-free facilities to help me, I could make my dream come true. After studying in the colleges, I could be more competitive (while seeking jobs or other tasks) after I graduate and also do more for our society.
I am the kind of girl who is outgoing. I like to walk around to see my city. As Guangzhou is a new city for me, I have a great interest to know this city and find places, which captivate my interest. For my first year at Guangzhou, I liked to go outside. The first and biggest problem with this was transportation. There are some barrier-free facilities on the bus and subways that are better than the city I used to live in. This is one of the elements that attracted me to study in this city, but the truth is, it’s not very accessible. For the past 2 years, I have never seen any bus driver open the barrier-free facility for any disabled person. There were no exceptions for the individuals, even if she/he used a wheelchair. If you are trying to use the barrier-free facilities in the subway, it usually will take three times longer than others, which was so inconvenient. Another example could be if you want to go to the mall with your friends, you need walk for long periods of time and some don’t have evaluators, which means you can only go to the first floor. I have schoolmates who use wheelchairs all the time. I remembered once when we went to a nice restaurant, her wheelchair could not enter because the stairs were too high, so we had to go to another restaurant. This could be one reason that many disabled people don’t like to go out with friends or by themselves. In the US, no matter if it is the on the bus, in the Mall, or at a restaurant, these facilities had to be barrier-free. There would be many accessible features like; a small electric cars, which offered free rides for elderly and disabled people. If you want to take a bus, the bus driver will open the barrier-free facilities without asking. When I joined a workshop and the speaker said that “every public place should make the barrier-free facilities available” because there are laws that asked those places to provide a reasonable and convenient environment. With the addition of Barrier-free facilities, they’ll help all disabled people to have a normal social life and easier way to live. The innovation of barrier free accessibility has helped the disabled in The United States look like equals.
People with disabilities are also one part of our society; we also want to enjoy our life. Sometimes change in little increments can help with adapting “the big picture” China is presently trying to make many public places become barrier-free facilities. That would mean a good deal of of banks and gardens becoming accessibly available. We can always make things better if we implement accessibility laws. Laws can help people with disabilities; we should not be victimized because we can’t walk up steps or perform the same way non-disabled people perform. Why do those public places in the US provide the barrier-free service? The answer could be that there is laws that business and places of education have to abide by.
Having a job is how many individuals earn their income. To solve this challenge, I found that there is a quite different phenomenon between the United States and China. In the United States, the laws ask the employers to provide equal opportunity for disabled people. In China, the government will award or give reduction for those companies who hire disabled people, to encourage more and more companies to hire disabled people. I think there are both advantages and disadvantages to these two different laws. In the US, it focuses on equalizing, which will let the disabled feel they are treated like everyone else. There are flaws though; you can never know the truth of why certain people/places reject you. For example, how many disabled people will you see in the top 100 companies in the US? Are things truly becoming better when the government gives benefits for the companies who hire disabled people? Many of my schoolmates are working now. There is one thing that they often say, which is, “they hardly got promotions, although they worked very hard.” Some of them had to quit their previous job because they want to find a better paying job. Some of them said, “The Company only cares about the tax reduction, but still think disabled people are not valuable.” I believe many disabled in the United States encounter this kind of situation; “They are hired by companies, but not being treated seriously.” This can play an major impact on those individuals with a disability.
Disability rights are still a big project for the United States and China and there is no right or wrong, the only question is “how do we make people’s lives better?” This is a big ethical challenge for both countries. We should work on it together. The reason that it is so important to people between the two countries is that disability’ rights shows basic human rights called “no discrimination.” In this way, people will feel more equal and it is good for the people who live in these countries to develop better communication with each other to get more accessibility. Discrimination is part of our daily life, such as education, transportation, entertainment etc. “No Discrimination” is the key element not only between two people, but also between two countries. It is the basic human rights people should have. These human rights could be a big challenge or sensitive topic between the US and China, it could be a big chance to make the relationship between these two countries closer. No one will know what will happen next. Maybe you will become disabled in the next few days, months, or years. This enlightenment could be a very good example for all the Asian countries, like china all over the world.
[Author 1 Xiaoxi Kang]
[GETCH-Guangzhou English Training Center for Handicapped] (www.canpei.com)
[Author 2 Amanda Dennis]
[University of Georgia]
Nationality: [United States]