Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has been summoned to a court in India amid allegations the retailer censored content seen as unfavourable to China.
China’s richest man has been thrown into the increasingly hostile spat between India and China which saw the former ban 57 Chinese apps last month over security concerns.
Ma, who stepped down as chief executive of Alibaba last September, has been summoned to an Indian court over allegations a staff member was wrongly dismissed for criticising what he called fake news and censorship on Alibaba’s numerous apps.
After instating the ban, which has now been extended to 47 more apps including Alibaba’s UC News and UC Browser, the Indian government called for all affected companies to provide written statements around whether these apps censored their content or acted for any foreign government.
According to Reuters, former Alibaba UC Web employee Pushpandra Singh Parmar alleged that he was sacked after questioning censorship on its platforms.
Parmar alleges that Alibaba prevented any content seen as unfavourable to China from being aired, while pumping out fake news to “cause social and political turmoil”.
Parmar, who was fired in 2017, is seeking $268,000 in damages for wrongful dismissal.
It comes amid a growing global backlash against China, its companies and its apps over both censorship and security concerns.
Last week the UK government announced a U-turn on plans to allow Chinese smartphone giant Huawei to build its 5G infrastructure.
Meanwhile in the US the government has warned that is strongly considering a ban of social media app TikTok over alleged security concerns.
India has been at the forefront of the backlash and is the first to enact such stringent bans on its services, citing “operations ethics” and concerns over user data going back to the Chinese government.