This week, China Voices brings TechNode Squared members a taste of social commentary decrying zero-sum competitiveness in education and the workplace. TechNode has not independently verified the claims made below.

Increasingly, the viral personal essays I come across reflecting on life in the Chinese internet have pessimistic viewpoints. This recent piece by Archibald Pei, an internet culture analyst, investor and independent filmmaker, paints a downbeat picture of Chinese work culture and its impact on society at large. Pei reflects on three recent news stories: Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s praise of a high school famous for its gaokao cramming, restrictions on gaming for minors, and an up-or-out policy for managers over 35 at Taobao.

He argues that these characteristics of large Chinese internet companies contribute to a form of “involution,” wherein the expansion of output is outpaced by labor growth, leaving individual workers less and less productive. Put more simply, he sees Chinese society devolving into a series of zero-sum competitions. He goes on to lament the narrowness and unrelenting pressure at the top of Chinese society.

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

What you get

Full access to all premium content and our full archives

Members'-only newsletters

Preferential access and discounts to all TechNode events

Direct access to the TechNode newsroom

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider is a freelancer based in Beijing and the host of the ChinaEconTalk podcast.