A 22-year-old woman left her office in Shanghai in the early hours of Dec. 29. That week, it was cold enough for pipes in many buildings to freeze. Trudging her way home with a few colleagues after long, seemingly unending shifts at work, she collapsed on the street at around 1.30 a.m. She could not be resuscitated, and died six hours later.
When news of the young woman’s death hit social media, people in China were outraged. The common “996” work schedule in China—9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week, plus plenty of overtime—has been blamed for killing office workers before.
The woman who died on Dec. 29 worked for a company called Pinduoduo, an e-commerce business that functions like Groupon and whose shares are traded in the United States. It is an extremely popular platform in China, especially outside of the country’s largest cities. In the race for profit against tech behemoths like Alibaba, Pinduoduo expects its coders and other staff to put in insane hours at work.
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