Brutal work schedules and stressful lifestyles have put China in the midst of what Bloomberg calls an epidemic: China Youth Daily has reported that some 600,000 people die every year due to overwork, while China Radio International has put the figure at 1,600 a day. Bloomberg zeroes in on the story of Li Jianhua, a banking regulator who always put "the cause of the party and the people" first, according to his boss. He began working for the government in 1985, traveling and toiling even when he was ill; he skipped a recommended hospital visit because he "didn't have time."
This month, he died in the midst of overnight work at age 48. His bosses applauded his efforts in a statement, calling him "a model for party members and cadres of the China Banking Regulatory Commission" and urging others to "be like him, always firm in ideals and beliefs, the broader interest, loyal to the cause of the party and the people, unremitting struggle, sacrificing everything." His case mirrors those of other white-collar workers in a culture that puts community first, says an expert. In China, notes another: "Any job worth doing is worth doing excessively." Japan has grappled with similar issues, but the country's "affluenza (has) led to questioning … of norms and values." China, on the other hand, "is still a rising economy, and people are still buying into that hardworking ethos." Click for the full piece. (Read more China stories.)