Disability as Exception: Digital Economy of Disability in China

Seminar/Forum

Disability as Exception: Digital Economy of Disability in China

With the increasing prevalence and impact of information and communication technologies on the Chinese socio-economic fabric, growing numbers of disabled people have sought employment and income opportunities by harnessing the power the ICTs and China’s growing digital economy. The Chinese government and its governing body of disability affairs (the Chinese Disabled Persons’ Federation) have encouraged e-solutions to disability employment through the ‘Internet + Disability’ and 'E-Commerce + Disability’ policies. They have worked with private internet companies, civil society organisations and transnational corporations to expand the disability employment and poverty alleviation agendas.

This talk critically examines China’s digital disability policies and implementation as well as disabled persons’ participation in the digital economy of disability within the context of China’s rise to global power and its social governance through the ‘Digital Economy + Entrepreneurship’ agenda. Drawing on Aihwa Ong’s work on neoliberalism as exception and Susan Greenhalgh’s work on China’s population governance, Associate Professor Yu argues that disability as an identity category has become a key neoliberal technology in China’s new mode of socio-economic governance; it is a political imperative to incorporate disability in the Chinese dream discourse. Disability as exception is allegorical to the rise of China who has been ‘handicapped’ in a US-centred world order and yet risen to challenge it.

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