The founder of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, has defended the work culture that is followed in most of the Chinese technology companies, calling it a "great blessing" for young workers. In a speech to Alibaba employees, Ma defended the work schedule of the «996» industry, which refers to the 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.
"Personally, I think being able to work 996 is a big blow," he said in comments posted on the company's WeChat account. "Many companies and many people do not have the opportunity to work 996," said Ma. "If you do not work 996 when you're young, when can you work 996?
The issue has led to a debate in the networks and protests on some technology platforms, where workers have complained because they dedicate too many extra hours to their jobs. Ma, a former English teacher who co-founded Alibaba in 1999 and is now one of the richest people in China, said he and his first employees worked regularly for long hours.
"In this world, everyone wants success, they want a pleasant life, they want to be respected," Ma said. "Let me ask everyone, if you do not spend more time and energy than others, how can you achieve the success you want?"
Last September, Jack Ma announced that he would leave his post in one year, when he turns 55, to replace his current number two, Daniel Zhang. To explain his decision, Jack Ma said: "Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will always belong to Alibaba."