China’s Tech Industry Brings Home the Bacon

Pigs at a farm in Tianjin, China.

Photo:

Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg News

Sept. 24, 2019 12:44 am ET

Chinese technology companies are onto the next pig thing. China’s second-largest gaming company,

NetEase
,

agreed last week to invest 1.5 billion yuan ($211 million) to build a pig farm in Shaoxing, a coastal city south of Shanghai. The farm will produce half a million swine a year, according to the local government’s website.

This will be NetEase’s third pig farm since the company first dabbled in livestock 10 years ago. Other Chinese technology companies, including e-commerce giants

Alibaba

and JD.com, also have gotten interested in animals in the past couple of years. They have said they are using technologies like artificial intelligence, facial recognition and voice recognition to reduce costs and raise output for pig farmers. Beijing will certainly be happy if such plans succeed given China’s current shortage of pork, its staple meat. Due to African swine fever, the country’s total pig population in August was nearly 40% lower than a year before. The ability of tech firms to work wonders in a well-established sector prone to the vicissitudes of nature has yet to be proven, though. NetEase may want to consider building hit games like “FarmVille” than try its hand at the real thing. Write to Jacky Wong at JACKY.WONG@wsj.com

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