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Top 10 Chinese buzzwords in 2019

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 31, 2019
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7. "996"

A file photo shows customer service employees of an online store on Alibaba Group's e-commerce platform Taobao working to answer potential buyers' questions in Nantong, Jiangsu province. [Photo/China Daily]

The term of "996" refers to a work routine: working from 9 am until 9 pm, six days a week. This work schedule is prevalent in China's high-tech industry, especially at giants like Alibaba Group and Tencent, for years though getting little public attention. Starting from March, many programmers working in internet companies launched a campaign to protest against "996." It really became a hot topic after Jack Ma, founder and former chairman of Alibaba Group, defended this pace of work in April, calling the work culture "a blessing" for millions of engineers, programmers, software developers and game designers. He even declared that 12 hours a day, six days a week contributed to employees' happiness. His words triggered widespread discussion on whether "996" is a blessing to earn more money and achievements at a young age, or exploitation by workaholic tycoons who only care about their companies and profits. In the face of the uproar, Ma backed down and finally said that all companies should not, and cannot force employees to accept "996." This term also spawns another similar popular phrase "996ICU," meaning "9am to 9pm, six days a week and ending up in the intensive care unit."

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