Chinese government asks Jack Ma to dispose of its media assets

Beijing: Chinese government has asked Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to dispose of its media assets, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.


According to a The Wall Street Journal report citing people familiar with the matter, Chinese officials are more “concerned about the technology giant’s sway over public opinion in the country”.


Alibaba expanded its footprint in the media sector by acquiring the South China Morning Post, an English-language newspaper launched 118 years ago in Hong Kong.


Beijing expressed misgivings about Alibaba’s media holdings during several meetings dating to last year, according to reports, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. Government officials are particularly upset about the company’s influence over social media in China and its role in an online scandal, involving one of its executives.


“Alibaba has also set up joint ventures or partnerships with powerful state-run media like Xinhua News Agency and local government-run newspaper groups in Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces,” the report said on Monday.


Bloomberg News reported in February that Beijing had grown alarmed about Alibaba’s media holdings after a scandal involving Jiang Fan, then the youngest partner at the e-commerce company.


Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder, has been at the center of a government crackdown that began last year, targeting the e-commerce giant and its finance affiliate Ant Group Co. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that China’s government is asking Alibaba to shed media properties.


Ma later disappeared from the public view, triggering speculation of him going “missing”. He was seen only in January when a video of him appeared on Chinese social media.

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