INSIGHTS: 996 and China speed—Slowing growth in the face of a changing workforce

5 min read
Employees work at JD’s Beijing headquarters, pictured here in November 2018. (Image credit: TechNode/Cassidy McDonald)

At the end of March, a challenge to overtime-heavy working conditions at China’s tech giants appeared in an unlikely place. Github repositories are usually used by developers to share, contribute and test code, but the 996.ICU repo and official site are protests against “996” culture—the expectation that employees will work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. The viral repo contains materials encouraging others to raise awareness of overwork in China’s tech companies, including a blacklist of 996-requiring companies and a whitelist of 955 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., five days a week) companies. Tech leaders, including Alibaba’s Jack Ma, and JD.com’s Richard Liu have all come out in support of the grueling work schedule. They have, however, been met with scorn and censure in both online discussions and official state media for being ton

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