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Workers could get as much as 130% of one month's salary in annual bonus if they've run at least 62 miles each month. (For illustrative purposes only) Image Credit: Supplied

This may be the time of year for holiday bonuses, but a Chinese paper maker has decided to scrap annual payouts for something healthier "- a monthly cash reward based on how much its employees exercise.

Guangdong Dongpo Paper, based in the southern industrial hub of Guangdong province, is set to distribute bonuses according to a monthly tabulation of how far each employee jogs, the state-owned Guangzhou Daily reported.

The company's roughly 100 workers could get as much as 130 per cent of one month's salary in annual bonus if they've run at least 62 miles (100 kilometers) each month, according to the report.

However, if they run only half of that distance over six consecutive months "- or about 5 miles per month "- they'll only get a pair of running shoes, the paper said, citing an interview with company chairman Lin Zhiyong.

Hiking and speed walking can both be converted into running miles "- but at a discount toward the bonus total "- with all the exercise recorded in an app, the Guangzhou Daily reported. The report didn't say when the policy would commence.

Lin himself is an avid hiker who has reached the summit of Mount Everest twice, from both the Nepal side and the China side, according to the company's official account on social media platform WeChat.

The new rules were devised to promote a healthy lifestyle and make workers happier, the newspaper cited Lin as saying.

Still, it's triggered debate among China's social media users, with many questioning whether Guangdong Dongpo is using the exercise measure as a guise to effectively cut or scrap bonuses. Some users on Weibo, one of the country's largest platforms, pointed out that it would be hard for employees to go for extensive runs every day as Chinese private sector workers put in long hours, with little rest.

Major Chinese companies, especially those in the tech sector, have been criticized in recent years for promoting the so-called "996" culture, where employees work 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. Chinese youth, wary of the culture and facing an economic slowdown and high unemployment, are increasingly dropping out of the rat race, spawning a movement known as "lie flat."