In 1990 both China and the United States passed major disability legislation. Why and how does disability become a key category at the turn of the twenty-first century across the Pacific and globally? This essay argues for disability's centrality in accounting for neoliberalism, China’s rise, and global imaginaries of the non-West. I examine how legal and political engagements with disability overlap and differ in terms of how notions of individualism, the welfare state, and race are theorized and imagined, particularly with regard to a globalized discourse on human rights. Extending Aihwa Ong’s work on neoliberalism as exception, I offer the framework of disability as exception to demonstrate the entwined modes of disability’s inclusion and race’s exclusion that occurred at the end of the twentieth century.