Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba and recently outed member of the Communist Party, issued a public defense of his country's 72-hour work week as an essential tool for success.
"I personally think that 996 is a huge blessing," Ma wrote. "How do you achieve the success you want without paying extra effort and time?"
Ma added that such an enormous amount of time dedicated to work would not be possible if people did not like what they do. "If you don’t like [your work], every minute is torture," he said.
For prospective employees looking to join Alibaba, Ma warned that they should expect to work long hours if they want to succeed. "Or why bother joining? We don’t lack those who work eight hours comfortably," Ma wrote.
Billionaire Richard Branson wrote in a blog post last year that he not only thinks long work weeks do little to help a company, he also believes that they will disappear thanks to technology:
The idea of working five days a week with two day weekends and a few weeks of holiday each year has become ingrained in society. But it wasn’t always the case, and it won’t be in the future. I’m lucky in being able to work wherever I am, at any time, and don’t see work and play as separate – it’s all living. I think this will be the case for more and more people in the future, to the benefit of businesses, countries and individuals.
As Google’s Larry Page and others have said, the amount of jobs available for people is going to decrease as technology progresses. New innovations will drive industries forward, but they will also reduce our reliance on people power. Ideas such as driverless cars and more advanced drones are becoming a reality, and machines will be used for more and more jobs in the future. Even pilot-less planes will be become the reality in the not too distant future.
In November of last year, the People's Daily, the official paper of the Communist Party of China, revealed Jack Ma to be a card-carrying communist, even listing him among the 100 people who have helped drive China through the "reform and opening up" process. Reuters speculated at the time that the CPC outed Ma as a means of coercion. His fortune rises to that of $35.8 billion, according to Forbes, making him the wealthiest man in China.
As to when Jack Ma became a CPC member, the paper did not say. According to Fox News, he has openly backed the policies of President Xi Jinping. In 2016, he suggested the government should use big data to prevent crime, which has essentially been used to advance the surveillance state.
Ma's affiliation with the party was an identity he kept tightly under wraps over the years. Not even the domestic search engine Baidu Inc. listed Ma as a member of the CPC. In a statement to Reuters at the time, Alibaba assured people that Ma's relationship to CPC does not affect the company's commitment to its bottom line.