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China's disabled enjoy e-commerce boom

(Xinhua)

08:16, May 21, 2012

HANGZHOU, May 20 (Xinhua) -- More and more physically disabled people in China have found ways to join the country's "get rich" rush, which could have left them behind if not for the Internet.

According to sources with Taobao, the country's largest e-commerce platform, more than 30,000 disabled people across the country are managing online stores at Taobao.com.

Gu Linglei is one such online store manager. The 28-year-old native of Hangzhou was blinded at birth, but he is no different from many others selling earphones and mobile phone top-up cards on the e-commerce platform.

Gu has to rely on screen-reading software to communicate with customers, but business is brisk. To date, he has clinched about 4,000 deals online and his store is rated a "4-diamond" -- a credit given to trust-worthy stores by Taobao.

Gu said the business idea hit in 2009 when, aided by a screen reader, he started to feel comfortable with online shopping and wanted to "try something new," and maybe earn a living for himself.

"I like the Internet because it is open, convenient, and equal for all," the young man said.

Gu said the Internet's role as a great equalizer has been a blessing for him.

"We have to admit that there is still discrimination against the disabled in getting a proper job. Sometimes we are being looked at differently," said blind Paralympic champion Yang Bozun. "The Internet, somehow, provides an easy solution."

Official statistics show that China currently has 85 million people with some form of disability. Last year, the government issued a five-year blueprint for improving the lives of the disabled, setting a target that the average disabled person could live a moderately wealthy life by 2015.

Job creation is among the key efforts the government has pledged. In 2011, about 31,800 urban jobs were created for the disabled.

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