Chinese banking regulator Li Jianhua literally worked himself to death. After 26 years of “always putting the cause of the party and the people” first, his employer said in June, the 48-year-old official died of a heart attack rushing to finish a report before the sun came up. China is facing an epidemic of overwork, to hear the state-controlled press and Chinese social media tell it. About 600,000 people a year die from toiling too hard, according to the China Youth Daily. State-controlled China Radio International puts the toll at 1,600 a day.
Microblogging website Sina Weibo is filled with complaints about stressed-out lives and chatter about press reports of people working themselves to death: a 24-year-old employee at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, a 25-year-old auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a designer of fighter planes. “What’s the point of working overtime so you can work to death?” asks a Weibo user, noting that his own boss told employees to spend more time on the job.