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What was the prank story?

And the lucky winner is…

Last week our issue coincided with April the first. As most readers will be aware, there is a longstanding tradition in Western media of running a prank story on 1 April.

So we decided to include a made-up story in last week’s issue (i.e. one that wasn’t true). However, to make it more interesting we also included a series of articles that, while true, still struck many readers as highly implausible. We offered readers the chance to win an iPad2 if they could detect the story we’d fabricated.

Around half those who entered got the answer right, but a large number did not. In fact, readers nominated practically every story in the issue, from our Planet China column to the item about the entrepreneur who spent $1.5 million on a dog.

However, of those that got it wrong, most opted for two articles. These were the hotel that’s going to be shaped like a ping-pong bat (yes, it’s true); and the genetically-modified cows which are capable of producing milk that resembles the human variety. Not only was that true (according to Chinese scientists “mothers’ milk” was a favoured drink of the nation’s emperors) but diligent readers in the UK would have subsequently realised this was no hoax – it ran as the lead story on the front page of Britain’s Sunday Telegraph on April 3.

So what was the actual prank story? It was ‘Air of superiority’, the article which featured fictional tycoon Wang Xu Fan’s attempts to bottle air in the Scottish town of Corrievorrie and ship it to China; whereupon it would be pumped through the air-conditioning units of luxury flats in Beijing and Shanghai. Of course, such a factory and such a business does not exist. Readers may have already concluded the idea was preposterous but were likely confirmed in their view when they read Jessie Johnston’s comment about how Wang’s wages were three times those paid at the local fish and chip shop.

Congratulations to Michael Davies of Prudential Asia, who got it right and was the winner of the iPad2 lucky draw. We hope readers enjoyed the issue, and our thanks to all those who entered the competition.

Steven Irvine, Editor

[email protected].


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