China’s ‘996’ Debate Reignited After ‘Overworked’ Pinduoduo Employee Dies

China’s ‘996’ Debate Reignited After ‘Overworked’ Pinduoduo Employee Dies
Jan 07, 2021 By

Concerns about China’s “996” work culture have been raised again after the death of a Pinduoduo employee was attributed to exhaustion.

China 996 death

A woman, surnamed Zhang, collapsed in Urumqi, Xinjiang, on December 29 and died in hospital six hours later, according to the SCMP. Although the woman’s family refused a post-mortem, Zhang has been identified online as the latest victim of China’s “996” work culture, which sees employees, particularly in the tech sector, work from 9am to 9pm (plus overtime) six days a week.

According to reports, Zhang was 22 and only six months into a job a Pinduoduo, one of China’s biggest video streaming and e-commerce companies. The company made matters worse on Monday when it released a statement on Chinese social media that read, “All of us grassroots people are sacrificing our health in exchange for a paycheck.”

After widespread criticism, Pinduoduo deleted and apologized for the post, blaming it on a contractor. In a new statement, the company said, "We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience to the public and we strongly object to the views expressed in the post. This does not reflect our official stance on this heartbreaking matter.”

Although the central government has largely turned a blind eye to the technically illegal 996 working practices, the Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau in Shanghai, where Pinduoduo is headquartered, has vowed to send a team to investigate the company’s work practices.

But while some tech workers have been voicing their grievances about institutionalized overtime in China in recent years, with some taking to social media to name and shame complicit employers, the practice has been publicly hailed by some of the country’s most prominent tech bosses. In April last year, Alibaba’s billionaire founder Jack Ma said young employees should see 996 as a “huge blessing”. boss Richard Liu then backed Ma’s sentiment, claiming that the e-commerce company would be left behind if “slackers” were not weeded out.

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The state-controlled China Central Television has also voiced its opposition against trading human life for profit and called for organizations to step up regulations to protect workers.

Apr 14, 2021 10:07 Report Abuse



An internal investigation found that Lin had applied for a leave of absence from his supervisor on January 8, a day before his death, without giving a reason.

Apr 14, 2021 10:06 Report Abuse



It's unfair for her to work unduly in covid 19 pandemic disease .let her go and rest

Jan 12, 2021 02:16 Report Abuse



It unfair for someone to work for 996 it's inevitable

Jan 10, 2021 17:55 Report Abuse



It inappropriate experience

Jan 10, 2021 17:53 Report Abuse



Why would anyone work 996? Why should anyone be expected to? Why can't we live our fucking lives with a sensible work/life balance?

Jan 08, 2021 11:08 Report Abuse



Why would the family refuse a post-mortem? Don't they want to know an official medical reason why their daughter died? Wouldn't that solve a lot of questions as opposed to speculating she died from overwork and giving this reason a ridiculous number? 996? Seriously? Sometimes people have underlying medical issues that can be aggravated by stress. Or sometimes people won't take the time to see a doctor for a specific symptom for fear of losing their job. This girl's family dishonored her memory by refusing to look for the truth.

Jan 07, 2021 18:37 Report Abuse



the family were probably paid off (and threatened) not to investigate further.

Jan 13, 2021 14:14 Report Abuse