Alibaba’s “UC Browser” has been removed from Chinese app stores
In a sign of tension between the Chinese Communist Party and Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, the Chinese government said today that Alibaba’s “UC Browser” has been deleted from several app stores in China, according to news first reported by The Financial Times.
The announcement comes just a day after President Xi Jinping said Beijing’s crackdown on large technology firms was just beginning. In addition, Android app stores including those operated by Huawei and Xiaomi have blocked downloads according to another report by CNBC, citing Huawei and Xiaomi phone owners.
However, one Samsung phone owner in China said they could still see the browser in Samsung’s app store. The UC Browser is also still available on Apple’s App Store. The decision to delete Alibaba’s “UC Browser” came after the UC Browser was criticized on a TV show, broadcast by state-owned broadcaster CCTV, about misleading online medical advertising.
The show accused the browser of allowing private hospitals to bid for the names of China’s best-known hospitals in keyword searches. Thus potentially luring patients to their websites instead of the public hospitals they are supposed to visit.
In early January, the absence of Alibaba’s founder from the public eye sparked social media speculations. The Chinese tech billionaire was absent from the public eye since late October. The news of his absence was first reported after Ma failed to show up from his own reality show as Beijing launches a probe into his ‘monopoly.’
A couple of weeks late, Ma was back on the public stage for the first time since October 2020. Ma stepped down as the executive chairman of China’s largest company after a 20-year reign.