Commentary on Political Economy

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Alibaba’s Web Browser Is Removed From Chinese App Stores

Bloomberg News
  • Huawei and Xiaomi were among those that have yanked the app
  • The allegations come as Beijing ramps up internet scrutiny

Alibaba’s UC Browser vanished from China’s largest app stores after state-backed broadcaster CCTV blasted the popular mobile browser along with other services for failing consumers.

Government-run China Central Television included the app among a number of brands it accused of flouting consumer rights in its annual name-and-shame program for March 15, World Consumer Rights Day. App stores run by Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. were among the local app stores that’ve since pulled the app, though Apple Inc. continues to offer UCWeb for iOS users.

The browser was among a plethora of consumer products called out Monday. 360 Security Technology Inc.’s shares fell in Shanghai after CCTV reported that ads in its search product contained fake medical information, while the broadcaster also went after everything from Nissan Motor Co.-owned Infiniti’s customer service to face-recognition software failings.

But the report came at a sensitive time for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which is grappling with intensifying government scrutiny over its growing influence in the internet and media spheres, with uncertain outcomes. Like 360, it was accused of running fake ads.

The Alibaba unit apologized in a statement for its “issues,” as is customary of companies named on the day. It pledged to set up a dedicated team to look into the allegations. “We will take further steps to strengthen our review procedures and enforce more rigorous standards,” the company said in its statement.

UC Browser’s removal was first reported by the Financial Times. 

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