An anonymous reader quotes The Guardian as saying: Americans addicted to Amazon may soon be courting a Chinese tech giant most of them have never heard of. According to reports from Bloomberg and Reuters, Pinduoduo plans to expand into the US next month. The company is known for delivering cut-price goods while subjecting its workers to conditions that a prominent labor activist says should horrify Americans. Described by its founder, ex-Googler Colin Huang, as a cross between “Costco and Disneyland,” Pinduoduo has ridden the wave of China’s tech boom to become one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies since its 2015 founding. .

Pinduoduo targeted China’s smaller cities and more rural areas, where consumers tend to be less affluent and more cost-conscious, says J. S. Tan, a graduate student at MIT who researches China’s technology industry. Its special feature is “group buying”, which allows users to organize people to buy in bulk directly from manufacturers at a deep discount. Because Pinduoduo is tightly integrated with WeChat, China’s leading social media platform, users can easily get together with friends, family and strangers online to order large batches of everything from electronics to baby formula to food – a lifesaver during China strict covid lockdowns.

“Pinduoduo is known for its extreme overtime,” said Li Qiang, a labor movement veteran and founder of the nonprofit China Labor Watch. “The competition is extremely intense and the conditions are much tougher than in America.” Two Pinduoduo employees died within two weeks between December 2020 and January 2021, sparking a national scandal. The first worker, 22-year-old Zhang Fei, died on December 29 as she headed home at around 1.30am after a series of extremely long shifts. The second worker, an engineer in his 20s, jumped to his death on January 9 after suddenly requesting time off from the company and going home the same day. The controversy escalated when a few days later a Pinduoduo employee, who identified himself as Wang Taixu, said he had been fired from the company after posting a photo of a colleague being taken away in an ambulance after losing consciousness. Wang subsequently posted a lengthy video on the video-sharing site Bilibili detailing the labor abuses he witnessed at the company; he claimed that some workers were forced to work up to 380 hours a month, which the company denied. “I think it’s definitely not a good thing for American tech workers,” Lee said. “In terms of production costs, there is no way for American companies to compete with Pinduoduo. If Pinduoduo succeeds, it may adopt Chinese-style work practices and bring them to America.”

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