Ma Yun

Left to right: Chinese pop culture icon Gao Xiaosong (Internet), Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma (Bloomberg), and actress/producer Vicki Zhao (Weibo).

Celebrities scrubbed from the Chinese internet: Victims of China’s social revolution?

Personalities such as actress/producer Vicki Zhao and music multi-hyphenate Gao Xiaosong have recently been scrubbed from the Chinese internet. Curiously, among the “wrongs” they are thought to have committed, a common one between them is having strong links to big capital Alibaba. What are the authorities saying with this latest clampdown on well-connected pop culture icons? Is an engineered social revolution under way?
A Didi logo is seen at the headquarters of Didi Chuxing in Beijing, China, 20 November 2020. (Florence Lo/File Photo/Reuters)

Ride-hailing giant Didi slapped with Chinese cybersecurity review days after IPO

Shortly after Chinese ride-hailing app Didi launched its IPO on the NYSE, the Chinese authorities announced that the company would be subjected to a cybersecurity review. Didi had earlier kept a low profile, knowing its listing was a risky move. But few expected the company to take its first hit from China and not the US. Could this be China’s way of discouraging homegrown firms from passing their profits to foreign investors? Yu Zeyuan reports.
Jack Ma, billionaire founder of Alibaba Group, arrives at the "Tech for Good" Summit in Paris, France, 15 May 2019. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

What the Chinese government wants to tell Alibaba and China's tech giants [Part II]

Alibaba was fined a record 18.2 billion RMB after an anti-monopoly probe. Commentator Yuan Guobao observes that Alibaba is not the only tech giant in China accused of monopolistic practices; for that matter, the “big four” companies in the US have also come under the spotlight. All this suggests that on a global level, tech companies must be prepared to adhere to a strict regulatory environment, even as they break new ground.
An Alibaba sign is seen outside the company's office in Beijing, China, on 13 April 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Is Alibaba doomed? [Part I]

Alibaba was recently slapped with a 18.2 billion RMB fine and has acquiesced to state authorities’ demands for “rectification''. Commentator Yuan Guobao asserts that Alibaba’s “choose one out of two” policy of tying online merchants down to exclusive deals was already sounding alarm bells. Jack Ma’s politically incorrect speech at the Shanghai Bund Summit may have been a fire starter, but the tech giant’s troubles have been brewing for quite some time.
A man walks past an Alibaba sign outside the company's office in Beijing, China on 13 April 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Can private Chinese enterprises truly ‘develop boldly and with confidence’?

Amid punishments meted out to Chinese private enterprises such as Alibaba, President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to various private enterprises was seen as a way for the Chinese government to assure companies that the state would still be supporting them. However, the status of private enterprises has always been a little fuzzy in China. Companies feel that they are at a disadvantage when competing with state-owned enterprises and may be reined in when they grow too large. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong looks for a way out.   
The logo of Alibaba Group is seen at its office in Beijing, China, 5 January 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Is Alibaba leaving its carefree days behind?

Alibaba’s name is said to be inspired by the song that goes: “Ali Baba is a happy youth!” But after the halting of Ant Group’s listing and being slapped with a 18.228 billion RMB fine, Alibaba faces headwinds. In their anti-monopoly efforts, the authorities seem to have no qualms about making an example of companies like Alibaba. Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan analyses the situation.
People wearing face masks walk near Qianmen Street, in Beijing, China, 10 February 2021. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Can the CCP forge an inclusive social contract and build a healthy civil society?  

Rather than perpetuate the “giant baby syndrome” of mollycoddled citizens, says Lance Gore, the Chinese government should go against its combative instincts and focus on harmony. Only then can it forge an inclusive social contract with the populace, where there’s room for active citizenry and a healthy civil society.
A logo of Ant Group is pictured at the headquarters of the company, an affiliate of Alibaba, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, 29 October 2020. (Aly Song/File Photo/Reuters)

Regulating new technologies: Singapore and China can work together

Law experts Tan Chong Huat and Amanda Chen observe that the recent halting of Ant Group’s dual listing on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges augur more regulatory changes in the micro-loans industry. While this lowers financial stability risk, will more of such regulations hinder fintech advancements? Where’s the middle ground? In their opinion, there is much that Singapore and China can learn from each other in the regulation of emerging technologies.
Pedestrians walk past a Chinese flag in the Lujiazui financial district in Shanghai, China, on 1 December 2020. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

China to clamp down on monopolies and spur domestic demand

The meeting of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party last week in preparation for the annual Central Economic Work Conference gave a clear indication of China’s economic direction: it is going full steam ahead on shaping a dual circulation economy driven predominantly by domestic demand. In seeking to implement demand-side reforms, deep-seated social issues and monopolistic tendencies will be addressed.