Alibaba founder Jack Ma held a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday. It is unclear whether the two discussed issues related to intellectual-property violations as Washington has made it a priority to push for IP protection in China. The same day, the Chinese e-commerce behemoth announced that Jack Ma will not be speaking at the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)’s Spring Conference, which is set to kick off in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday.
Alibaba president to speak at the Spring Conference
The cancellation comes just days after the IACC kicked out Alibaba from the group amid controversy over whether the Chinese company was doing enough to fight the rampant selling of fake goods on its shopping platforms. Brands like Michael Kors, Gucci America and Tiffany had accused the e-commerce behemoth of profiting from the sale of fakes, and paying only lip service when it came to removing counterfeit merchandise from its platforms.
The Hangzhou-based company said in a statement that it “feels it best that Jack Ma postpone his appearance.” Instead of Ma, now Alibaba President Michael Evans will address the IACC Spring Conference on May 19. The IACC had been promoting Jack Ma’s high-profile appearance prominently on its website. Soon after the IACC scrapped Alibaba’s membership, the Chinese company launched a massive media campaign in China trumpeting its success in fighting fakes.
IACC ‘kidnapped by personal interests’ of members
The online retail giant accused the IACC of being “kidnapped by the personal interests” of some of the coalition members. Alibaba’s chief of corporate communications, Jennifer Kuperman called the decision to remove the company from the IACC “a step in the wrong direction.” She added that intermediaries like Alibaba played an integral role in preventing the sale of counterfeit goods.
A Chinese-language statement from the Jack Ma-led company hailed Alibaba has the “most important and advanced anti-counterfeiting force worldwide.” Since last year, the company has identified 3,518 groups selling fake goods on its platforms. It helped the police seize counterfeit goods worth $125 million and nab 300 suspects.