Authorities in Chongqing, China, have criticised a cosmetics company for allegedly forcing its employees to crawl on their knees and hands in front of a large crowd at the city centre.

The May 2 incident was meant to be a stress edurance challenge for employees, online news sites said.

Pictures of the employees crawling on all fours were uploaded by 2 netizens who witnessed the men and women crawling in circles while yelling an encouragement slogan.

They were wearing uniforms and had reportedly shouted "jia you" (which means try harder) repeatedly while crawling on the ground.

The Chongqing police later said in a Weibo posting that the employees were told to leave the area. Managers at the cosmetics firm were also reprimanded and 'educated' over the incident.