BEIJING — The international Paralympic Games opened Saturday in Beijing in spectacular fashion, launching an event China's leaders hope will show their country in a compassionate light.
The crowd roared its approval at performances in the National Stadium, called the Bird's Nest, which also was used for last month's opening Olympic ceremony.
Particularly well received was a ballet performance by a young girl who lost a leg in May's massive earthquake in Sichuan province. An athlete hoisted himself up a rope, along with his wheelchair, to light the Paralympic flame.
"The Chinese people uphold the spirit of self-reliance and perseverance, and they are proud of their virtue of supporting and helping people with a disability," chief organizer Liu Qi said.
President Hu Jintao said the government was dedicated to improving the lives of 83 million disabled citizens.