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Fear of China

I’m thinking more about various bits and pieces of information regarding how education and technology firms are organized in China.

Last year there was an article by Sir Michael Moritz about work ethics in Chinese tech companies. One of the most memorable (for me) observations from this article was this notion of a “9-9-6” culture (I hope I’m getting it right because I don’t have an access to the original article anymore): workers start working at 9am, work until 9pm, and do it 6 days a week.

I’ve talked to a Chinese friend of mine, and they mentioned how their high school schedule was structured: they usually would study on campus 5 days a week, every day from morning till 9pm or 10pm, then study a bit on Saturday and visit their family in the afternoon, and then go back to campus on Sunday evening to have an exam. This all sounds pretty much bizarre to someone even from a post-USSR country like myself.

On top of all of that, I’m not sure how much western world is bounding itself by its culture and ethics; if it’s good or not for the human progress; because it seems like Chinese government is less hampered.

It’s also obvious to me that I have little to no clue about the situation. I should probably read less news. One thing that I feel is fear that such pace will make the rest of the world irrelevant at some point.

It’s also easy to discard the idea of being required to study or work for 14 hours a day as unsustainable. I feel like in the western world, the idea of work-life balance is pretty much accepted as a norm. I’ve been listening to “Thinking in Systems” by Donella H. Meadows, and one thing stood out to me: the notion of a stock in every system. The easiest example of it is a filled bathtub: there’s an inflow and an outflow of water; if they are equal then bathtub will remain filled at the same level at all times, leading to a dynamic equilibrium; if they are unbalanced, then it would either lead to an overflowing or an empty bathtub. So naturally every system, that we want to keep full of stock, should have a sufficient inflow and a fair outflow of things, energy etc. If I think of the human mental health and will power as a stock, shouldn’t it also be refilled and consumed in a sustainable manner? What is sustainable? Perhaps we just became too undertrained and lazy?