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.
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