The Nanfang / Blog


Shenzhen-based college graduate literally works himself to death

Posted: 11/21/2013 7:00 am

Much has been written about the plight of college graduates trying to survive Shenzhen’s high living costs and competitive job market. A 29 year-old real estate planner based in Shenzhen’s Luohu District who died suddenly on October 29 appears to be another victim of the stresses of life in Shenzhen after his death was attributed to the fact that he was routinely working until three and four in the morning.

Li’s father clutches his son’s photo, image courtesy of Southern Metropolis Daily

Li Maotao, who was born in 1984, came from a poor family who invested everything in his education. In 2006, he graduated from high school in his native Qiyang County in Hunan Province and got into Dalian University to study Engineering Management.

After taking his degree, he was accepted into Chongqing University’s graduate school, but he had to drop out after a few months because his family could no longer support him financially. In March 2011, he came to Shenzhen and got a job at Dingtai Real Estate Brokerage. The base salary was 2,500 yuan, so success was heavily dependent on performance bonuses.

This year he was promoted to planner and his base salary was increased to 4,000 yuan.

After being promoted, he was sent to Xuzhou for six months on a project. While there, he would frequently take to Sina Weibo to complain about the crazy hours he had to work. Li routinely tweeted in the wee hours of the morning, with the latest tweet being recorded at 4:57 a.m.

When it emerged that he was not well, Li was given temporary leave of absence and returned to his hometown. However, just two days after arriving in Qiyang, he died in the local hospital.

The autopsy suggested he had myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, which is usually caused by a virus. He also had an irregular heartbeat.

Southern Metropolis Daily reported Tuesday (November 19) that Li’s family might have grounds for legal action against the Dingtai company, but it must first be established that overwork was directly responsible for his death.

The issue of young, ambitious people doing harm to themselves by working excessive hours is not unique to Shenzhen. This year, Moritz Erhardt, 21, was found dead in the shower at his temporary accommodation in London while he was on a placement at Merill Lynch.

But the young in China are particularly vulnerable to being worked too hard, as this year’s graduates entered the toughest job market in history.



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