Chinese Working Hours 996
Shenzhen - a Special Economic Zone 

May 1, 2021

Labour Day, 996, Shenzhen - the 1st SEZ of China

May 1, 1890 - the first International Workers’ Day (Labour Day 劳动节Láodòng Jié) was established by the Second International (former International Workingmen's Association) during the Marxist International Socialist Congress 1889 in Paris. There were important demonstrations in 1880s, one severe and bleeding demonstration was the Haymarket Affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886. Workers strongly requested to shorten working hours to eight hours a day. The establishment of Labour Day put universal peace movement forward.

Nowadays, more than 80 countries celebrate the Labour Day. Labour Day has become a National holiday in China from 1949 and is annually celebrated. After 1989, Chinese State Council commends about 3000 National Model Workers once every 5 years. From May 1, 1995, China has implemented the five-day work system (五天工作制 Wǔtiān gōngzuò zhì).

Concerning the working hours, a commercial system 996 (Jiǔ-Jiǔ-Liù) appeared in 2016 in a big influential Chinese internet company. 996 refers to the concept of working from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM and 6 days a week, it is however, not the regulation from government. The rise of 996 likely is related to the idea of striving to become rich through hard working, which aroused widespread concern and discussion.

May 1, 1980 was an important day in Chinese modern history. Shenzhen深圳, together with Zhuhai珠海, Shantou汕头 and Xiamen厦门, was pointed to be the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ 经济特区 Jīngjì Tèqū) of China, which is exactly 90 years after the first May Day.  
          SEZ mainly refers to the special economic policies, flexible economic measures and special economic management systems, such as tariff reduction (减税jiǎnshuì) or exemption (免税miǎnshuì) and other economic preferential treatment. The ideal investment environment is to promote the country's economic development. Shenzhen showed the world how fast a city could be well developed. ‘Shenzhen Speed’ (深圳速度 Shēnzhèn sùdù) is by so far, still a development wonder. Shenzhen successfully completed its historical missions and has now become a clean, environmentally friendly, affluent and vibrant world city.

Sunbird Chinese Culture Club