On April 2, in the streets of the northeast Chinese city of Baishan, Jilin Province, a man in a navy blue business suit called out to about a dozen colleagues: “It’s time to carry out your promises!”
The more than ten men and women then knelt down and began crawling on their hands and knees through the wet street. They followed a man holding a red flag to deter traffic as bystanders snapped up evidence of their self-flagellation.
A video of the scene has gone viral on the Chinese internet, drawing hundreds of thousands of views and comments.
The company in question, as reported by the Shanghai-based Peng Pai, finances car loans. A company executive told Peng Pai that he had originally intended to groveling in the street by himself in order to apologize for their not meeting a sales target, but when his subordinates got wind of this, they took it upon themselves to do the deed.
Netizen comments ridiculed the collective apology and motivational technique. Some wondered if it was all a show to drive up sales.
“How can you endure this kind of humiliation?” said one comment, translated by the Shanghaiist. “Is your salary in the millions or could you not find other work and if you quit, you die?”
“For these young people, this is awful. Young people are quietly being reduced to slaves, used as beasts of burden, do your mom and dad know?” another user wrote.
The company executive says that he did not expect this kind of attention, and that work ethic improved greatly after their crawl.