Hidden message in NetEase’s homage to “Chinese corporate conscience” amuses netizens
News portal NetEase devoted a special editorial web page (deleted by now) to March 15, China’s Consumer Rights Protection Day. Headlined “Lists of businesses with moral conscience in our country,” the feature story begins with the lead, “Today’s netizens fume at gutter oil, fake medicine, luminous pork, poisonous milk, poisonous rice…What they don’t know is, in our country, there are good companies too. Honest in business, they make high-quality products and never fool consumers! Today, let’s take a look at these businesses with moral conscience, and hats off to them!”
Then the splashy headline is followed by a large blank area.
You may think that either the blank is caused by some system error, or the editor will later heap on the page names of big corporates that have paid them for this PR offensive.
However, netizens immediately cracked the code – by holding down “Ctrl” and “A” at the same time. A previously invisible line will have been selected, which reads, “F**k! Still can’t find any business with moral conscience after so much looking around, and here comes the damn 3/15…Was forced to put this feature page online…”
This is how it looks after the “Easter Egg” is found:
NetEase is known by Chinese netizens to be the most free-speech-friendly, boundary-pushing web portal in China. Even though it is subject to the same level of scrutiny of state censors as other online media do, it has garnered much support from netizens after challenging the limits multiple times, by cracking jokes. On April Fools’ Day, 2011, NetEase published Happy Times, a parody newspaper similar in style to The Onion. The spoof news stories, laden with witty and scalding sarcasm, nailed most social maladies and problems.
Last December, shortly after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il died, NetEase, unlike any other major news outlet or portal, played with the news by running a topics page with a headline saying, “From Kim Jong-il’s Death to the Importance of Keeping the Weight Off.” The subtitle was even more subversive: “A government and a human body are the same: neither can afford to be cumbersomely fat.” In another discussion surrounding Kim Jong-il’s death, NetEase asks, “Kim Jong-il died. Will North Korea see its spring?”
And needless to say, both instances of defiance received subsequent punishment – removal by censors.
Selected comments from Sina Weibo
李东壁：Then just let us take a look at the businesses with least moral conscience…
电影四戒：Anything can be rid of, except for the attitude. Awesome!
_小寧儿_: I have the urge to work for NetEase…
Ray要改后缀啦：NetEase is definitely the most morally correct one! The single one!!
JNZou: Really “a media organization with an attitude.”
信口开荷：NetEase does the best feature stories among all websites.
万能的备胎君：This is why I have always been loving NetEase~
諸神的夢魘：I strongly recommend that NetEase acquires Sina!!!
Selected comments from NetEase Weibo
我是愤怒的橘子 ：Hats off to those editors at NetEase who are bold enough to tell the truth.
静悟乾坤 (王雨) ：There is no such thing as a reliable enterprise. Those are all heartless people.
带刀客 ：I’ll just wait until the list comes out. Anyways, I’ve never seen one (with corporate conscience).
chmkeily ：So talented! Each year, NetEase’s feature pages can bring surprise and joy to everyone. Haha.
zhongyanqihang : I didn’t get it at first sight. Finally I got it!
conkiyo ：At this moment, saying nothing is better than saying anything…
冰菁翎羽 ：The editor is so awesome! This is exactly China’s current situation!