Jack Ma faces criticism for remarks about employees’ sexual activity

2 min read

At Friday’s Ali Day, Alibaba’s annual event to celebrate employees, Jack Ma said that employees’ sexual activity should happen six times every six days, and that it should last a long time. The remarks make reference to the 996 working regime, for which Jack Ma’s harsh  attitude has received significant criticism in the past.

Ma got in trouble in April after condemning an online movement against the 996 working schedule in the tech industry, which forces employees to work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. Tech workers took to GitHub to speak out against the long hours, saying that eventually they will lead them to the ICU. Ma responded that having the opportunity to work 996 is a “blessing.”

At Ali Day, the richest man in China followed up on his 996 proclamations with a wordplay. The Chinese word for “long” is a homophone with the word for “nine,” so he flipped the notorious 996 quote to encourage daily sexual activity with a long duration.

This year’s Ali Day featured the weddings of 102 employee couples. Ma, Alibaba’s founder, acted as the witness to the weddings, which were performed simultaneously on stage.

At the end, he gave a speech where he pronounced “We emphasize the spirit of 996 at work. We want 669 in life. What is “669?” Six times over six days a week, the key is to last long.”

Ma said that the purpose of marriage is solely to produce babies, which led several Chinese netizens to assume that he was promoting an increased birth rate, one of the key aims of the Chinese government. “Jack Ma is following the state in promoting having more babies,” one Weibo user said.

Weibo users express anger over Ma’s comments. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

“If an ordinary person said this it would be considered as part of the “straight man cancer,” a post on Weibo reads which raised 6,500 likes by May 11. “Straight man cancer” is a Chinese term used by netizens to describe men who are self-righteous and indifferent to the value of and the obstacles faced by women.

Another user said “996 during the day, 669 during the night, I guess after less than a month I might have to stay in the ICU forever.”

In a statement, an Alibaba spokesperson said that “Jack offered lighthearted life and marital advice” to the newlyweds that included the tip “that the value of love, unlike coding, can’t be measured or calculated.”

With contributions from Shi Jiayi. 

UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect comment from Alibaba.