Why China’s Gig Economy is on the Rise

By Alistair Baker-Brian, April 13, 2022

0 0

Even before the onset of COVID-19 and all the subsequent effects upon work in China and elsewhere, jobs in the gig economy were on the increase in the Middle Kingdom.

Such jobs tend to be defined as anything which includes short-term, part-time or freelance contracts. In China, you might think of waimai delivery employees, Didi drivers etc. – jobs which many of us interact with on a daily basis. 

Global Times recently reported that many young people in China are now taking up a whole new batch of gig economy jobs, including scriptwriters for murder mystery experiences, virtual artists, shopping assistants, sleep hotline operators and more – professions which independent analyst in the internet sector Ding Daoshi says will become commonplace in years to come. 

A report by Ali Research estimated that by 2036, there would be around 400 million people self-employed in China, as reported by South China Morning Post back in 2017. 

Why the change? 

Many young people want flexibility in their work schedules, as opposed to being tied to a rigid office schedule. Working as a freelancer can allow that to happen. 

This is a trend which has been happening for a while now, with recent backlash against China’s ‘996’ work culture – the notion that employees should work from 9am-9pm, six days per week. 

This has been catalyzed in part by deaths of workers, which have received attention from Chinese media. 

On December 9, 2020, an employee of e-commerce group Pinduoduo collapsed while walking home from work in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They had been working until around 1am. 

READ MORE: Death of Tech Worker Renews Concerns Over '996' Work Culture

There have been some signs that big companies are taking note. In February, 2022, Chinese travel agency Trip.com announced it would implement a hybrid work model for employees, allowing for time to be spent working from home.

READ MORE: Trip.com to Implement Work from Home in China

And of course, there’s the COVID-19 impact. 

In a report entitled The Future of Work after COVID-19, US-based McKinsey Global Institute states that the epidemic has “elevated the importance of the physical dimension of work.”

Furthermore, the report notes the move towards remote work as a trend was exacerbated by COVID-19. 

It states that in the first half of 2020, jobs in e-commerce, delivery and social media in China grew by more than 5.1 million, though it doesn’t specify how many of said jobs are defined as being part of the gig economy. 

Based on current trends, it seems that China’s workforce will only become more accustomed to freelance and part-time work, with ever more flexible hours. 

[Cover image via Unsplash]

more news

Prosperity Unwrapped: That's Fortune Bag for Blessings & Wealth

That's Fortune Bag! In-stock now for 'Congratulations and Prosperity,' carrying beautiful wishes!

Exploring "A Different Way of Life" at the 2023 Sino-French Month of Environment

The 10th Sino-French Month of Environment in South China kicks off in Guangzhou.

Work Begins on Guangzhou to Guangzhou South Railway Station Link

New connection will reduce travel time between Guangzhou Railway Station and Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station to under an hour.

WATCH: Tourists Banned for Life for Feeding Pandas

Two visitors were caught feeding pandas without authorization during their visit to the facility.

How to Get 51 Days Off Work, Including Four Full Weeks in 2023

Get the most out of your annual leave and avoid those dreaded adjusted working days.

Some COVID Positive Cases in China Can ‘Work as Normal’

In a move to further relax COVID measures in China...

Shenzhen Firm Lambasted for Asking Applicants to Work for Free

A company in Shenzhen has been criticized by netizens for asking candidates to work for free.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at ThatsGuangzhou for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Guangzhou With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's !

Visit the archives