Beijing (PingWest) – Today, Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, made a statement at an internal company meeting, saying that being able to work in a company with a so-called 996 work schedule is a blessing for employees. He further noted that he also worked more than 12 hours per day. "If you want to join Alibaba, you need to be ready to work 12 hours a day. Since you have chosen to work in the top company in China, you have to pay the price," he said in the speech. Ma added that rewards only come after employees have put in great effort.
His comments have caused controversy as they come in the wake of burgeoning opposition to the 996 work culture so rife in Chinese tech firms, under which employees are expected to work "9 AM to 9 PM, six days a week." A recent project on Github, dubbed 996.ICU, has brought frustration with the 996 system to the fore, even drawing the attention of the creator of Python, Guido van Rossum. He forwarded a news report from the South China Morning Post, saying that the 996 work schedule is inhumane.