It wasn’t very long ago that one of China’s wealthiest men Jack Ma caused a stir by declaring employees should work 12-hour days, six days a week, calling it the 996 work culture.
Mr Ma has now caused further controversy by recently caveating that declaration by adding that a balanced home life is all about “669”.
- Jack Ma has come under fire for his comments about a 996 work ethic in the past
- He says the “KPI” of marriage is to have children
- China is facing an “unstoppable” population decline due to a rapidly ageing population
“We want 669 in life. What is 669? Six times in six days, the emphasis is on nine,” the Alibaba founder told a crowd of 100 couples at a company wedding.
Mr Ma was talking about sex, and the comments were his push for employees to maintain a work-life balance, or, as he said: “Work happily and live seriously.”
In Mandarin, the number nine also means “long-lasting” or “long duration”.
The quote was also posted on Alibaba’s official Weibo page with a winking emoji.
Mr Ma’s comments have since received widespread negative responses from Chinese netizens, with comments saying his remarks are “disgusting” and suggesting he should no longer speak in public.
It was unclear if Mr Ma is attempting to encourage a baby boom in China’s rapidly declining population.
‘KPI of 669’ for ‘balanced’ life
With a net worth of $50 billion, this was not the first time the Alibaba founder has caused a stir.
Last month, he defended the concept of 996, referring to the expectation that tech employees should work from 9:00am to 9:00pm, six days a week.
In his most recent comments, he told the newlyweds that a work-life balance would require both 996 and 669 for the couples to reach their “key performance index” (KPI).
In a post on the Alibaba Weibo account, it said that Mr Ma had “set a KPI of 669 for [his] newly married employees”.
“The KPI of marriage is to have results.… What is the product? To have children,” he told them during a toast.
“Marriage is not for the purpose of accumulating wealth, not for buying a house …but for having a baby together.”
He also told his employees having children is a better investment because “everything could be fake” and only children are the real thing.
“So have more children,” he said.
Chinese social media users pondered whether the comments were Mr Ma’s attempt to encourage a baby boom to buffer the country’s rapidly declining population.
In 2016, China relaxed the one-child policy to try and offset a rapidly ageing population, however, the country is facing an “unstoppable” decline once its population is expected to peak at 1.44 billion in 2028.
According to the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, 2018 saw the fewest births in the country in more than half a century.
There were 15.23 million births last year, which is a sharp decline of 2 million from the previous year.