“If we told you who is behind Alibaba, you would be scared to death,” Hangzhou Police
Alibaba is still busy trying to reassure Chinese regulators that the company is committed to removing counterfeit goods from its e-commerce platforms. Last month, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) launched a scathing attack on Alibaba, accusing the company of turning a blind eye to the sales of fake goods on its websites.
Fake goods threaten China’s reputation
Consequently, a group of U.S. investors have filed a class action lawsuit for misleading investors in the months ahead of its September IPO. The lawsuit says that Alibaba did not disclose risk factors, including a meeting with SAIC regulators in July 2014, to investors. Another regulator, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), told Alibaba that fake goods threaten China’s reputation, so the company should take the issue seriously.
Now a webmaster in Shenzhen has accused that the e-commerce giant uses the Hangzhou police as its “thugs.” Alibaba is headquartered in Hangzhou, and the company has strong political ties. Shenzhen is about 1,300 kilometers away from Hangzhou. Xiang Dongshun, a webmaster at Shenzhen Dimeng Network Technology Co., was detained and warned against publishing articles critical of Alibaba on social media.
Xiang Dongshun told Lin Jinbing of Caixin that, on February 5, three police officers in plainclothes took him to Shenzhen police department’s economic crimes unit and put him in a dark room. Two officers spoke Chinese in an accent not native to Shenzhen. They questioned him for more than three hours about why Shenzhen Dimeng Network Technology Co. was posting articles critical of Alibaba and its marketplaces.
Secret to living peacefully in China: don’t criticize Alibaba
The officers asked him not to publish any more such articles online, Dongshun told Caixin. One of the officers told Xiang Dongshun that it was not his job to criticize the Jack Ma-led company for selling fake goods. Officers warned that Alibaba could “get rid of a company like Shenzhen Dimeng in a minute.” They told Xiang Dongshun that if he had any idea of who was behind Alibaba, he “would be scared to death.”
Officers did not provide their identification to Dongshun. But when Shenzhen Dimeng Network Technology Co. CEO Xiang Jun visited the Shenzhen police station, he was told that the two officers had come from Hangzhou. On February 7, Alibaba accused Shenzhen Dimeng of defamation, saying that the Shenzhen-based company had launched “malicious attacks” against the company and its executives.
Shenzhen Dimeng has written 11 articles between January 19 and February 5 about Alibaba’s business practices, including sales of fake goods and massive tax evasion.