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Video | What’s behind China’s ‘996’ overwork culture

Written by James Chan Published on   1 min read

Overwork practices have garnered controversy in China, but the hyper-competitive job market means there’s always someone willing to take the job.

The “996” working hour system has been widely adopted in China, especially among tech firms. Workers are expected to work for prolonged hours, typically 12 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Six days a week.

The system has been hailed by Chinese CEOs as a way for their companies to stay competitive, but on the flip side, it has been criticized by government officials for violating labor laws and affect workers, who pay a mental and physical toll.

Despite controversy and criticism, “996” is still prevalent today. In late 2020, a young Pinduoduo employee collapsed on her way home from work at 1:30 a.m. and later died. While there was no publicly released report indicating the cause of death, the incident prompted an investigation into Pinduoduo and its working hours. The recent event was just one of many cases over the years that have sparked the debate surrounding “996” or other overwork practices.

To learn more about the state of China’s overworking culture, check out our video:

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