State media side with regulator in widening row against Alibaba Group

E-commerce giants should ‘bear the corporate social responsibilities’ and ‘stop bullying others’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 January, 2015, 11:46am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 January, 2015, 6:38pm

Chinese state media today voiced support for the commerce regulator in a signed commentary amid the escalating row between the authority and Alibaba Group, calling on the e-commerce giant and other big companies to bear their corporate social responsibilities and stop “bullying others by flexing their financial muscle”.

The commentary came shortly after the company vowed to file formal complaints against a quality survey released by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce earlier this week.

The signed commentary, published by the official People’s Daily on its Wechat account today, said the company should be mindful of the bottom line – that it as illegal in China to sell substandard goods as is to produce them.

According the regulator, the quality survey found more than 60 per cent of randomly chosen goods from the group’s popular online shopping platform, similar to eBay, were substandard.

Alibiba said that the survey used questionable and unfair sampling measures to pick on Taobao.

But the commentary on Wechat countered: “There is no escape by good fortune [for companies that sell substandard goods]. A bag of [substandard] milk powder could ruin a company,” it added, referring to the milk powder scandal that almost bankrupted Sanlu Group. “Online shopping platforms have changed the way Chinese people shop… Fix the problems before it is too late… Don’t let down millions of consumers who support you.”

The commentary also criticised the administration for failing to release its findings on the irregularities at earlier, in a reference to the “white paper” the administration published online on Wednesday.

That document, based on discussed between Alibaba and the regulator in July, had been withheld to “avoid hindering” the group’s record-breaking initial public offering in the US, the administration admitted yesterday.

“Compared to the questionable sampling measures pointed out by Alibaba, [the delay] in releasing the white paper was much more inappropriate,” the commentary said.