On October 19th, the twenty-year-old Chinese tech giant NetEase announced that its second pork farm had just been launched in an idyllic county in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, spanning a 2.2 million-square-meter farm encircled with pine trees, just by a large reservoir.

Yes, Chinese tech tycoons aren’t always just about finding the next most disruptive thing in tech. Richard Liu, founder and CEO of JD.com started a free-range chicken project by subsidizing local farmers. Ding Lei, the 46-year-old shy, low-profile founder and CEO of NetEase has been raising organic, non-GMO black pigs for the last eight years under the company’s agricultural affiliate Weiyang.

When the pork was ready to go mass-market last winter, Ding served it to a group of friends who were some of China’s most prominent tech bosses: Sohu founder Zhang Chaoyang, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun, Meituan Dianping CEO Wang Xing, Qihoo 360 CEO Zhou Hongyi, Baidu President Zhang Yaqin, to name a few. The meal was served during the annual World Internet Conference, a summit held by Chinese government agencies in the historic water town of Wuzhen in eastern China for high-profile figures to muse on internet trends and policies. Ding Lei in particular was psyched at the dinner, local media reported, not only because of NetEase’s impressive growth that year, but because he was one step closer to his vision: bringing better, safer food to Chinese people.

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Rita Liao

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.