Career PUAs on the rise in China

Career PUAs (pick-up artist) are a growing phenomenon in China. PUA was originally used to refer to when one member of a relationship tries to control their partner’s mentality by constantly putting them down or lowering their self-esteem. Although the term originated from the West, it has become commonly used in China in recent years to describe controlling relationships.

The expression has also been adopted in some workplaces in China to explain a situation where a boss or senior staff member conducts manipulating behaviour towards more junior employees. A Career PUA could be a manager who frequently lashes out at more junior employees or asks them to work late, with the threat of repercussions on their job if they don’t.   

Career PUAs are increasingly common in China and many young Chinese have experienced this behaviour in the workplace. However, due to the competitiveness of the Chinese job market and cultural expectations about respect for seniors, this behaviour goes on unchecked.

This week, the topic “Career PUA” has been trending on Weibo with 150 million views and 23,000 comments. Is this the start of a discussion about the workplace culture of Career PUAs?

Dao Insights are currently conducting interviews on Career PAUs so stay tuned for more insights on the topic.


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