Alibaba’s UC Browser deleted from Android app stores in China

Jack Ma, CEO of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, speaks during his visit to the Vivatech trade fair for startups and innovations on May 16, 2019 in Paris.

Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images

Alibaba’s internet browser has been removed from several app stores in China, according to a Financial Times report on Tuesday.

Android app stores, including those operated by Huawei, Xiaomi and Tencent, have reportedly blocked downloads or removed Alibaba’s “UC browser”. CNBC was unable to immediately confirm the report.

It did so after the UC browser was criticized on a television broadcast for misleading online medical advertisements broadcast by CCTV, a state broadcaster.

The show accused the browser of allowing private hospitals to bid on the names of China’s most famous hospitals on keyword searches, and potentially attracting patients to their websites rather than the public hospitals they wanted to visit.

A spokesman for Alibaba’s UC Browser team told CNBC, “We paid great attention to the issues shown on the show and were quick to implement a series of review and correction actions.”

They said the “illegal ad content” referred to on the CCTV show was immediately removed.

“We will continue to improve and take responsibility for content review and provide good information services with stricter standards,” they added.

It comes as a Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that Beijing’s crackdown on large tech companies has only just begun. “The development of some platform companies is not standard and there are risks,” said Xi in an address to China’s highest economic body, according to the state broadcaster CCTV.

Regulators blocked the $ 37 billion IPO of Antibaba’s financial technology subsidiary Ant Group last November, and Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder and richest person in China, has been barely seen in public since then.

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