Ep. 42: To 996, or Not to 996, That Is the Question

In Episode 42 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma turn their attention to the developer-led movement 996.icu, one of the few viral China tech topics in the past few months that has made it to Western media in real time and gotten a good bit of coverage. The movement is so named because there is a popular saying that to work “996,” or at least 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week — as many tech sector employees do in China — is to end up in the ICU. Listeners will also hear from Arman Zand, a lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. This episode is dedicated to the latest cohort of students from his international business course on China — who, by the way, are all TechBuzz listeners, debated the concept of 996 incessantly while on a recent immersion trip, and met with Pandaily CEO Kevin Zhou over dinner in Beijing. Thanks, all, for your support!

Rui and Ying-Ying explain that what has widely been hailed in the West as one of China’s secret weapons to unseating Silicon Valley as the tech hub of the world is actually a contentious topic within China. They begin with the history of the phenomenon: While some companies always had departments that were overworked, the first truly controversial and semi-official adoption of 996 was in September 2016, when it was rumored that the $10 billion online classifieds company 58.com decided to institute the 996 schedule across its then 20,000 employee base. However, it was not until January of this year that an ecommerce software as a service (SaaS) company named Youzan officially announced that it was moving to a 996 schedule. That was the first time the practice, which had only been tacitly acknowledged, became actual, enforced policy.

Listen to find out: What has happened since? Within the Chinese blogosphere, what are the stated pros and cons to adhering to a 996 schedule? What is the role of the government and of China’s legal code? Have Chinese people always just worked a lot — and what about in other sectors outside of tech? How did the 996.icu movement start, and how did it go viral? What are the sentiments from both sides of the table within the developer community in China? What do Rui, Ying-Ying, and guest commentator Arman think — is this all just part of the startup hustle, or is it worthy of regulatory scrutiny and change? Will things change? How does this one quality relate to China’s innovation — in other words, why is 996 so relevant, and is it a competitive advantage for China?

As always, you can find these stories and more at pandaily.com. Do let us know what you think of the show by leaving us an iTunes review, liking our Facebook page, and tweeting at us at @techbuzzchina! Thank you also to our listeners over at our partner, dealstreetasia.com.

We are grateful for our wonderful producers, Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo, and for our interns, Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu.
Our sponsor this week is the University of San Francisco. USF’s new master’s degree in Applied Economics is a STEM-designated program that combines economics training with the practical skills in data analytics needed to understand today’s new digital economy. To learn more, visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.

Transcript

(Y: Ying-Ying Lu; R: Rui Ma; A: Arman Zand)

[00:00] R: Last year, the famed Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Moritz wrote an opinion piece for the Financial Times titled “Silicon Valley would be wise to follow China’s Lead.”  What lead, you say? Well, he was referring to the punishing work ethic, which, in his opinion, far outpaced that of US rivals.

Y: Moritz observed that many top managers adhere to an 8am to 10pm schedule, for six days a week, with plenty who do it for all seven days. 

R: Sounds hardcore? Not really, because the reality is that for many domestic internet companies in China, 9am to 9pm six days a week is the norm.  And thus was born the term 996, which refers to just such a regimen.

Y: Are we exaggerating? Not really. We both have friends who really do work this much, week in and week out, without any sort of overtime pay. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, like at Bytedance, you are supposed to get every other Saturday off, but of course when a big product launch is coming, all bets are out the window.

[1:04] R: 996 basically means you are working a minimum of 72 hours a week.  That’s a lot, almost as much as investment banking, my old job. But even then, that wasn’t the entire bank, and it was supposed to get better as you progressed, whereas in Chinese internet companies, this is not looking to be the case.

Y: It’s also in direct opposition to the Chinese legal code which stipulates that the workday is 8 hours, and that the work week should not exceed 40 hours.

R: And that’s our topic for this week, which is how a developer-led movement called 996.icu seeking to abolish the 996 work schedule in Chinese internet companies is drawing international attention.  They named it that because there’s a popular saying that to work 996 is to end up in the ICU, or intensive care unit. 

Y: Right. It’s the hottest topic in Chinese tech media these days. How does it work exactly? How bad is it? And what are Chinese people saying about it?

[2:30] R: Hi everyone! We are TechBuzz China by Pandaily, powered by the Sinica Podcast Network!

Y: We are a biweekly podcast focused on giving you a peek into what’s buzzing within the tech community in China.    

R: We uncover and contextualize unique insights, perspectives and takeaways on headline tech news that don’t always make it into English language coverage. So you can be smarter about the world of China tech. TechBuzz China is a part of Pandaily.com, an English language site that tells you “everything about China’s innovation.” I’m one of your two co-hosts, Rui Ma.

Y: And I’m your other co-host, Ying-Ying Lu. We’d like to acknowledge our partners DealStreetAsia and SupChina, creator of the Sinica Podcast Network! In addition to TechBuzz, you can also find Sinica which covers current affairs, NuVoices on women, the business-oriented ChinaEconTalk, and the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief from China’s leading business magazine. 

R: Speaking of DealStreetAsia, their annual private equity and venture capital conference, Asia PE-VC Summit, is set to take place on the 17th & 18th September this year. Hear from market leaders and experts, and network with the industry’s best over two days in Singapore. To register, follow the link: events.dealstreetasia.com/sg2019/
As always, if you enjoyed listening to our podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes or whatever other platform you use, we check them weekly, we promise, and are always looking for feedback! 

[4:04] Y: Today’s episode is brought to you by the University of San Francisco. USF’s new Masters in Applied Economics combines econ training with practical skills in data analytics — all geared towards helping you understand and analyze today’s new digital economy. Their curriculum covers skills like R and Python, machine learning, and experimental design; plus topics like the economics of platforms, auctions, pricing, and competitive business strategy. To learn about joining the Fall 2019 inaugural class, TechBuzz listeners can visit usfca.edu/techbuzz.

 [4:43] R: So… 996. It’s a controversial topic.  I would say that in the West, it’s been widely hailed as one of China’s secret weapons to unseating Silicon Valley as the tech hub of the world. I mean, our friends at GGV even named their podcast after the phenomenon, and for good reason, because for some, this was a badge of honor. 

Y: Yeah, it’s really along the same lines as the “wolf spirit” or bloodthirstiness that companies like Huawei began to popularize years ago. Overwork is not to be dodged but welcomed, and being able to withstand such pressure is a sign of toughness and a statement to your ability. In fact, the CEO of Huawei is known for having famously said — who needs work-life balance? Just get a divorce!   

R: Of course, some companies always had departments that were overworked, such as sales, but the first truly controversial and semi-official adoption of 996 was just two and a half years ago, in September of 2016, when it was rumored that the $10Bn online classifieds company 58.com had decided to institute the 996 schedule across its then 20,000 employee base.

Y: If you talk to tech old-timers in China, working overtime has been around for at least a decade, but it was always somewhat organic, and not codified.  This was one of the first times that it became recognized as company policy. At least, sort of.

[6:16] R: 58 had merged with its main rival Ganji.com just a year earlier and the story was that because the post-merger performance wasn’t up to snuff, CEO Yao Jinbo 姚劲波 was hoping to use 996 to force out employees and reduce headcount in an effort to rescue its dropping stock price.  However, he was careful not to put it in writing, which made it difficult for employees to file official legal complaints, aside from complaining on Yao’s Weibo account.

Y: But things came to a boiling point this January when an ecommerce SaaS company, youzan 有赞, actually officially announced that it was moving to a 996 schedule.  Regular working hours were to be 9am to 9pm daily, except for Wednesdays, which were designated “family days.” That didn’t really signify anything except that you could expect to get off by 9pm, or if you simply had to leave earlier, it didn’t come out of your vacation days.

R: Whereas the other days, depending on project need, you could be expected to work beyond 9pm.  And because now 9pm was the official end of the workday, if you left early, you had to ask for permission, and yup, that would come out of your vacation days. 

Y: And just like that, what was acknowledged tacitly before now became actual policy and was going to be tracked.  There had always been complaints before, but now it was different, and now everyone felt compelled to jump in to defend their point of view.

[7:43] R: Maybe 996 was OK when putting in extra hours resulted in large gains, say some bloggers, but not now that most industries are mature and there is both less upside and less of a sense of mission. No one would argue that Elon Musk works his employees to 996 or even worse, but at least to Chinese people looking in, that sacrifice might be worth it because you’re building something revolutionary.

Y: I think they’re drinking too much of the Tesla Koolaid there, sure there is the mission, but there’s also the fact that overwork can kill you.  According to a survey of employees in the internet industry, about 70% reported working overtime, and the same number of people also reported suffering from insomnia, with just 2% saying that they hadn’t experienced a noticeable change in their health after working a lot.  

R: That means 98% do.  Every few months there are stories of very young employees, the last headline being a just 25 year old DJI employee, who suddenly died in his home due to overwork.  Sometimes they are also founders, such as the death of the 44-year old CEO of a well-known digital health company.  Occasionally, they are suicides, so it’s not always just physical health that’s at risk, but also mental health.

Y: On paper though, this all goes against government regulation, which is the primary argument that the founders behind 996.icu are using.  You see, China has a set of labor laws, and they dictates that maximum overtime is no more than 3 hours a day and no more than 36 hours per month, and by the way, at no less than 1.5 times normal pay. 

[9:27] R: In fact, the code also says that the hours worked per week should not exceed an average of 44.  At 72 hours, 996 is more than 60% over that number.

Y: By the organizers’ calculations, only when one is paid nearly 2.3 times their base salary does 996 comply with the regulations.  Below that, it actually makes no economic sense for the employees.

R: Compelling argument right? Which is why it went viral.  996.icu is the top Github trending repository for this month with 2000 commits, 431 contributors, and over 200,000 stars as of the time it was recording.  And not just that. The second most popular repository is also a Chinese creation on this subject, a database of 955 companies, that is, 9am to 5pm 5 days a week.  It’s called 955.WLB, which stands for work-life-balance. A whitelist of companies, so to speak. 

Y: I get the 955 database, but what does 996.icu actually do? Is it just a blacklist of all the 996 offenders, right?

[10:41] R: It does have a list of offenders, along with links to “evidence” of the offense, but more than that, it is a software license that will be attached to open source software which will “force” companies to adhere to local labor laws if they want to use said software. In China, any company that engages in 996 would be in breach of this. 

Y: OK, so to put it more simply, those companies who are practicing 996 would not be able to use software with this particular license attached. And in this way, developers are hoping that by limiting access to software, which is the lifeblood of tech companies, they can discourage 996 behavior.  Will that work, though?

R: Potentially, but unlikely.  Legal experts on the subject aren’t so sure the license is kosher. That’s because open source software, by definition, can’t have additional restrictions on usage, no matter how well-intentioned they are.  We aren’t a podcast on legal topics here, so we have no opinion on the matter. 

Y: What we do know is that this was one of the few viral China tech topics in the past few months that made it to Western media in real-time and also got a good bit of coverage here as well.  NPR covered it last week, although mostly focusing on the narrative that developers were using Github to combat censorship. 

[12:01] R: Although I don’t really understand that story, because the Github repository happened before certain companies began censoring it, and not in response to censorship. Censoring it, in my opinion, only added fuel to the fire.

Y: Yeah, what happened was that within days of the repository going up and taking the top spot in Github, certain Chinese-owned browsers had blocked access to it — including ones made by Tencent, 360, and Xiaomi.  It was so ironic because, as one commenter noted, that “these 996 companies’ 996 developers had to work 996 to block a website about 996.”

R: So far, due to the fact that Github is such a central tool to tech innovation, the Great Firewall has left it alone, which means that you can access the website just fine unless you are using one of those aforementioned domestic browsers. 

Y: But because github is now owned by Microsoft, no one knows what the tech giant will do in order to defend its numerous business interests in China, since in the past it’s been accused of being quite accommodating.  Since Microsoft is definitely not a 996 offender, in fact, the 955 list is basically foreign companies, but many of its domestic rivals are, maybe that could potentially hurt their competitors’ interests in a small way?

[13:25] R: Maybe, but it’s actually already common knowledge that working for foreign companies means a more humane lifestyle, that is maybe Uber China excepted.  All we know is that if we were Microsoft, we would tread carefully here since one wrong move can alienate a whole lot of developers.

Y: Not just in China, but globally.  The so-called “godfather” of Python, for example, Guido van Rossum, talked about 996 on his social media, asking his followers, “How can we help these people? How can we get the Western press and governments to pay attention?”

R: There is some attention being paid in the West, but of course most of the reaction is coming from within China.  But there are a lot of different opinions and realities even in China itself. I mean, China is a big country with a huge economy.  There’s a lot of variation in attitudes to work.  

Y: Also, Chinese people most definitely did always work this much.  Before the Chinese economy opened up in 1979, there was a good portion of the country worked in jobs that had them doing not very much each day. In fact, if you talk to some older Chinese people, they will reminisce fondly of the days where they didn’t do very much except “drink tea and read newspapers” 喝茶看报, the term for having a really chill job.

[14:49] R: And for a good portion of Chinese society, that practice continues.  The most hilarious example I can think of personally is Liu Cixin 刘慈欣, the author of the famous sci-fi trilogy, the Three Body Problem, who worked for the state-owned China Power company. Liu acknowledged in a TV interview that he wrote many of his books on the job, because he was given so little to do and had very little oversight, but did sit in front of a computer all day. 

Y: Yes, imagine GRR Martin writing the Game of Thrones series during another full-time job.  Liu’s response even got the attention of the central government’s division overseeing state-owned assets, and they cleverly replied on Weibo that that was precisely the reason why there is the need for deep reforms, so that great authors like you can continue to write great works without distraction!

R: But yeah, that’s a reality of China.  And I’m not sure that it’s that easy to solve.  The reputation of becoming a civil servant, i.e. working for the government, continues to be one of drinking tea and reading newspapers, among other things, so it tends to attract that type of person, and it just becomes a sort of vicious cycle. 

Y: You already come in having a certain expectation of the job, and then add to it the lack of fair incentives. You could be working your butt off, but for various reasons, including the family background of your peers, your work wouldn’t be recognized, and your peers may in fact be rewarded for doing absolutely nothing.  Eventually, you also join the ranks of the lazy, unmotivated, and complacent– at least, that’s the stereotype.

[16:31] R: It’s a well-known problem, and even the state-owned newspapers talk about it with a great deal of distaste.  It comes down to the fact that most state-owned enterprises are simply not managed in a scientific or equitable way.  However, it is important to know that there is a spectrum, it’s not always egregious to the degree of “I can write novels on the job”.

Y: If you have the government and state-owned enterprises on one end, let’s call it the left just to provide a sense of orientation, and private enterprises on the other end, or the right, then tech startups are, as a group, as far to the right as you can possibly get because of the nature of the industry.  I mean, tech companies all over the world tends to be more decentralized and less hierarchical than more traditional enterprises, in general. 

R: And on the left, within state-owned enterprises, there is still a range.  Government institutions are often the worst offenders, followed by the largest state-owned enterprises, or 央企.  But the former tends to pay far less, at least on paper, because the latter are often monopolies in very profitable industries such as power, banking, or other sectors of national security significance.

Y: There are only 102 of these very large SOEs though, so it’s actually pretty difficult to get a job in one of them and working your way into one tends to require lots of friends and calling on them for favors.Smaller state-owned enterprises, called 国企, and their many subsidiaries and joint ventures, come next on the spectrum, and these start looking more and more like private enterprises. 

[18:05] R: I actually worked at such a place, a JV between an American investment bank and the Chinese SOE subsidiary CITIC Securities, and maybe it was just the nature of the industry, but people worked pretty hard, 996 wouldn’t have been uncommon, and there was definitely no novel writing.

Y: The reason why we just spent the last few minutes explaining the non-tech working world though, is because we wanted to make a point that it’s not inherently Chinese, per se, to work long hours.  Sure, industriousness is considered a virtue, but so is being “clever” enough to find your way to a 铁饭碗, an iron rice bowl, where you can have job security, decent pay, great benefits, and a well-regarded social status.  That still drives a lot of Chinese people.

R: China, as far as we can tell, hasn’t gotten to the point of Japan, where overwork is an epidemic and widely accepted, even embraced in the spirit of self sacrifice.  That doesn’t represent what Chinese people are thinking.  Most of the folks who support 996 do so because they feel that they have to, or risk failure, not because they think it’s somehow good for society. 

Y: Yet, in an unscientific poll conducted by Chinese tech media 36Kr, 38 of the 60 internet company employees surveyed were against 996,with  8 in support, and 14 didn’t care one way or the other.  One of the most common sentiments was that those who were working on the 996.icu initiative had too much time on their hands.  Indeed, 4 of the top 10 contributors were still in school. 

[19:47 ] R: Quite a few also felt that the salaries of tech workers being on the high end of the pay scale for white collar work meant that working overtime should be expected. And basically any founders interviewed thought that if someone didn’t want to work 996, they just weren’t fit for the industry. 

Y: Plus, as many non-tech posters have commented, this is hardly exclusive to tech.  Plenty of other private industries, such as advertising or film, have similar or worse hours.  The commonalities shared by these industries? Demanding clients, inexperienced management, poor communications and unnecessary bureaucracy. 

R: Finally, there’s also a good portion of workers, as we’ve mentioned earlier, who believe that given the current weak economy in China, with layoffs almost everywhere you look, the emphasis on 996 is just an indirect way of reducing headcount.  Make it until they can’t bear it, and then they will leave.  

Y: So the companies and founders are all for 996, and employees, as expected are generally against, although there is a significant minority who are either ambivalent or even pro the schedule.  What does the government think?  Because 996.icu has made this into a pseudo legal issue, right?

[21:03] R: Well, as long as the focus is on the companies and not in any attempt to unionize developers, which would be a big no-no, the Chinese government, at least, seems to be on board.  Multiple state-owned media have come out and supported the developers’ requests to be treated fairly under Chinese labor laws. 

Y: I see that GMW, 光明网, a subsidiary of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Ministry, noted that 40 internet companies have come under fire for instituting 996, and unequivocally stood on the side of the developers, saying that these practices are against the law, and encouraged employees to report such instances to the relevant authorities.

R: GMW has also published two popular op-eds, one by a professor, who said that many companies are using 996 in a coercive manner, by screwing employees on bonuses and promotions if they do not comply.  According to him, these indirect methods are similarly illegal and against the spirit of the law.  Not to mention, they are probably unsustainable.

Y: Another op-ed pointed out that the reason 996 ran rampant despite being illegal is that the cost of whistleblowing is high, but consequences are low.  As is listed on the 996.icu website, the current version of Chinese labor law does not include “death from overwork” as a fault of the employer. 

[22:26] R: Yeah, only when you die on your post or during work hours, or fail to be resuscitated within 48 hours does that count as a work-related death.  And so employers have no incentive to treat this seriously since it is not a legal liability for them.

Y: And yet, they are probably paying the price in other ways, because their workers are unhealthy, and in extreme cases, dying.  As the article points out, as early as 2010, Chinese research reports showed that 76% of white collar workers had sub-optimal health, and for those who died between 30 and 50 years old, 96% died from diseases that resulted from exhaustion due to overwork.  Yikes!

R: The author even made a link between overwork and the current lowest-ever marriage rates in China, which has been a complaint of many young people, that they do not have time to have romantic relationships.  As far as this author, an official GMW commentator, was concerned, 996 and overwork is a problem that affects the future of Chinese society at large. 

Y: Other state-owned papers were similarly alarmed, but similarly pessimistic about the likelihood of change without government intervention, especially legal reform.  Basically, companies could engage in all sorts of shenanigans without directly referencing or enforcing 996, and with there being a surplus of white collar workers in China, their bargaining power is weak.  

[23:57] R: And the problem, if you really want to get into it, is not just in Chinese tech.  It’s not just programmers who are working overtime.  Again, remember, aside from a few cushy government jobs, Chinese employees in private enterprises are hustling hard.  Migrant workers work on average almost 9 hours a day, and over 85% are working more than the legal limit of 44 hours a week, and that’s mostly exhausting physical labor. 

Y: But what exactly is the incentive for the Chinese government to step in and curb working overtime? Some argue, none whatsoever. Especially in today’s weak economy, every politician is struggling to boost GDP, not hobble it further. 

R: To wrap it all up, we asked one of our good friends and greatest fans Arman what he thought of the issue. Arman really really loves this subject.  We’ll let him introduce himself:

A: My name is Arman Zand, and I’ve been in the international tech and venture capital scene for the past twenty years. From 2008 to 2015, I was in Shanghai, helping build China’s first joint venture technology bank from the ground up. I’m currently back in San Francisco, and I teach about China at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. In fact, I was in China two weeks ago with twenty students meeting with local and foreign tech companies.

[25:19] Y: Arman, because I know you’re dying to talk about this … do you think 996 is a sustainable competitive advantage for China?

A: I do not think that 996 is a competitive advantage. I do believe that Chinese workers, especially in tech, work longer hours and in conditions that may not be suitable for workers in the US or in Europe. But I don’t think working longer hours is an advantage. And I don’t believe encouraging anyone to work 996 actually makes them more efficient, productive, or creative. And it definitely doesn’t promote autonomy or a sense of ownership. During our time in China, we grew our local team tenfold, we gave our local staff autonomy, respect and a sense of ownership, and challenged them to solve difficult problems. We also let them take time off when they needed it, to be with their families, and work on their own schedules. This is definitely not the norm in China today, but we had great success. Most of the core team we hired back in ‘08 is still in place, and retention is super high. Some of the earlier employees have been with the bank for almost 15 years. That’s unheard of in China. In comparison, the 996ers that we see in China are switching jobs every 12 to 18 months, and almost always because they are getting paid more elsewhere. So no, I don’t think 996 is an advantage at all. In fact, I would go as far to say it may be a disadvantage.

https://finance.sina.com.cn/roll/2019-04-09/doc-ihvhiewr4203638.shtml

R: I totally agree with you. 996 is not a competitive advantage, or at least not a sustainable one.  And many Chinese people already agree, as we’ve mentioned. But OK, Arman, what do you think will be the likely outcome of all this hoopla? Are things actually going to change?

A: I think it’s already changing. I think tech companies in China that are global minded and successful in creativity, innovation and work culture are thinking about how to get the best quality out of their teams, not the most quantity in terms of hours. And I think other local companies will follow that lead, because China needs to innovate. What I don’t see happening, is that Western companies, like those in the Valley, will not try to copy China’s 996 to get ahead, as has been suggested by certain prominent American VCs, who went to China a few times and write articles.

[27:27] Y: Hah, we do know quite a few of those, although to be fair, Moritz is not one of them, he’s a pretty frequent visitor. Anyway, thank you Arman! What do you think Rui? Want to summarize for us what we learned today?

R: Well, we introduced the concept of 996, or 9am to 9pm 6 days a week, and explained that this has become the norm in recent years in many Chinese private industries, but most notably in tech companies.  Private industries, by the way, are different from state-owned ones, which can be much more laid back.

Y: Right. And we learned that while the practice has been going on for years and years, it wasn’t usually part of official company policy, partly because that would be a blatant violation of Chinese labor laws which cap the hours worked per week at 44, far below the 72 that would take place under 996.

R: Of the stakeholders involved, and there are three main groups, employees, the founders / upper management, and the government, the founders’ stance is most uniform.  Pretty much all of them are pro-996 and believe that anyone who doesn’t want to work such a schedule isn’t a good fit for the fast-paced and highly competitive tech industry.  Most of them don’t think the policy needs to be an official one though — they believe that those who don’t work that hard will be naturally weeded out. 

[28:53] Y: The government’s response is also consistent, in that it endorses fair practice of labor laws and does not support 996 as a result.  But it hasn’t taken any real action other than allowing the complaints to continue and it’s unclear that any real regulatory change will happen.  Unless the government steps in, it seems that real change will be difficult.

R: And that’s because even within the developer community itself, opinion is still split on the validity of 996.  While it seems that a majority is against it, there’s a good amount who believe that it needs to happen to get things done, that’s just the way it is, and that those who complain will eventually complain themselves out of a job, given that there is an oversupply of qualified workers versus good jobs.

Y: As for us, I think we are definitely on the side of No to 996.  Instead of having your employees work longer hours and die in the prime of their life there has to be other inefficiencies that can be cut out from the day.  It’s just going to be hard to implement because so many things are cultural and behavioral change is always hard.

R: What I’m really curious about, though, is what Michael Moritz now thinks about his op-ed last year after knowing that in fact, most of the people he thinks are so diligently working away at their jobs are not doing so because they love it, but because they are forced into doing so, and in fact hate it. I would have thought that was obvious, but then again he doesn’t seem to think there is a problem with parents who only see their children for a few minutes a day, or husbands who have to follow their wives around on business trips to spend any time together.

[30:34] Y: Or maybe, it’s just very easy to misinterpret other cultures when you are just being shepherded through on a whirlwind trip and being told what you want to hear. Such as when he thought that the afternoon naps the Chinese employees were taking was because they were too exhausted from work.

R: Yeah, let’s bust that myth right here right now.  The afternoon siesta is actually a common Chinese custom, and I had to nap every school-day when I was in China.  Even today, surveys show that 90% of white collar workers have the habit of napping after lunch, with many believing this helps them work better in the afternoon.  Only 5% felt that they were doing it because they were sleep-deprived. 

Y: Maybe someone should have explained this to Mr. Moritz! So what do you think, Techbuzzers? Do you agree with the folks behind 996.icu, that “Developers Lives Matter,” and that this is a serious legal issue worthy of regulatory scrutiny and change, or do you think that this is all part of the startup hustle, and it’s far better to be stressed about your job, than stressed about not having a job?  Participate in our Twitter poll, and let us know!

 [31:51] Y: OK, that’s all for this week folks! Thanks for listening. As a reminder, episodes will now be available every Friday instead of Wednesdays. We really enjoyed putting this together, and we are always open to any comments or suggestions. You can find us on twitter at thepandaily, at techbuzzchina, and my personal Twitter account is GINYGINY.

R: And my Twitter is spelled RUIMA. TechBuzz China by Pandaily is powered by the Sinica Podcast Network. Pandaily.com is an English language site that tells you “everything about China’s innovation.” Our producers are Shaw Wan and Kaiser Kuo. Our interns are Wang Menglu and Mindy Xu! See you in two weeks!