Alibaba has been ordered to dispose of all its media assets by the Chinese government amid fears it holds too much sway over public opinion.
The Chinese government has issued its latest major attack on the ecommerce giant, which accounts for around 10 per cent of all retail sales in the country, as its onslaught against big-tech gathers pace.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Alibaba has been ordered to offload its most popular media assets including Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, the South China Morning Post, and online video platform Bilibili.
Since the report was published yesterday, Beijing has also pulled Alibaba’s internet browser from app stores across China.
It comes after the Chinese government issued a clear and frank warning to the country’s tech giants, which also include JD.com and Pinduoduo, that it will “step up” sweeping new regulations to limit their market dominance.
“Some platform companies are growing in an inappropriate manner and therefore bear risks,” the Communist party leadership said at a meeting held earlier this week.
They added that it was “a considerable problem that the current regulatory regime has failed to adjust” to the rise of these big tech players.
Alibaba has become the main target of the government, with reports emerging last week that it could issue the biggest fine in Chinese corporate history against the company of nearly £1 billion.
Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder and until recently China’s richest man, made a “fiercely critical” speech about China’s regulatory system in October, painting a target on Alibaba’s back which shows no signs of abating.
This instigated a firm and near immediate retaliation from the government which has launched investigations, fines and clampdowns on Ma’s numerous businesses, causing Alibaba’s shares to drop more than 25 per cent since October wiping more than $10 billion off of its market value.
According to the Wall Street Journal’s report, regulators have told Alibaba to disassociate itself from Ma or face staggering fines.