Back in September 2010, Mengniu Dairy Co, China’s biggest dairy company by market value, was embroiled in a scandal over allegations that it used a public relations company to attack two of its major competitors, Synutra International and the Yili Group. A division manager at Mengniu, An Yong, and staff at the PR company, BossePR, were later arrested by police. At the center of the scandal were allegations that BossePr had mobilized an army of online pushers, or wangluo tuishou (网络推手), to actively promote rumors about Mengniu’s competitors online, tarnishing their reputations. The story drew much greater attention in China’s media to the role played by “online pushers” on China’s Internet. A news search through the Baidu search engine in December 2010 turned up many different news stories about the use of this questionable method of manipulating public opinion. In this cartoon, posted by artist Da Peng (大鹏) to his QQ blog, one corporate boss sits casually and unsuspecting in the background as a competitor peeks around the corner, holding a huge red-eyed monster labelled “online pusher” on a leash. “Competing with me . . . He’ll see!” the competitor mumbles.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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