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China’s exploited tech workers fight back

Photo Source: Business Insider / Jason Lee

This episode of ChinaEconTalk features a discussion with two of the people behind recent, high-profile efforts to mobilize Chinese programmers against labor exploitation via GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform: Suji Yan, CEO of Dimension, and Katt Gu, J.D., Advisor at Asian-Pacific Blockchain Development Association and PhD candidate in informatics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Suji and Katt are on the front lines of a growing movement of thousands protesting working conditions for Chinese tech workers, which are characterized by outrageously long working hours — a practice widely referred to as “996,” shorthand for shops that require staff to work “from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.” In response, Suji and Katt developed and published the “Anti-996 License,” which allows developers to signal that their code is being used by companies that respect basic labor standards. The license has been adopted by over 2,000 software projects to date and “liked” over 200,000 times.

In addition to discussion their advocacy efforts, in this episode Suji and Katt share their views on the ever-evolving Chinese tech sector, including the history of Linux and the ongoing importance of open-source software development tools.

You can subscribe the ChinaEconTalk newsletter at: chinaecontalk.substack.com.

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Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider is a Beijing-based professional who works with Chinese internet companies on internationalization strategies. Back in the U.S., he spent time at the Eurasia Group and Bridgewater Associates. His Chinese landscape paintings "show promise."