Alibaba has apologized for posting on Twitter an illustration with inaccurate maps of the U.S. and China. According to the People’s Daily, neither the South China Sea islands nor Taiwan were marked on the map of China.

Alibaba
Image source: hinglish Notes – Flickr

Alibaba posted inaccurate maps on China and the U.S.

The illustration was posted on Alibaba’s official Twitter account to explain the trade opportunities between customers in China and small businesses in the U.S. However, the map soon drew censure for excluding the South China Sea islands on the China side and Hawaii and Alaska on the US side

On January 10, Alibaba said on its official Sina Weibo account, “We apologize for making this rookie mistake. We offer no excuse for this mistake, but will make an immediate rectification. We hereby offer our deepest apologies.”

A new and corrected version replaced the original illustration the same day.

This development happened a day after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met with Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma in Trump Tower in New York on January 9 to discuss how the Chinese firm could create more jobs by assisting small businesses in the U.S. with selling products in China. Also this was the first meeting between a high-profile Chinese businessperson and the U.S. President-elect.

Ma grabs unusual attention

The meeting between Trump and Ma triggered a tidal wave of online discussion in China. People were less concerned about the outcome of the meeting, which, according to reports, was Ma’s promise to increase the number of U.S. businesses selling on Alibaba’s platform. Instead, the focus was more on why Ma inserted himself between the two powerful governments of the U.S. and China, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Is Ma serving as a message carrier between the two governments? Did he get any approval from Beijing before the meeting? Some online users called Ma an “unofficial foreign minister” and “unofficial ambassador.” Some even said that they hope one day they have the opportunity to elect Ma as the president of China.

Duncan Clark, author of the book Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built and chairman of tech consultancy BDA China, said Ma does not see himself as just a Chinese businessman, but also a global player.

“I’m guessing he can make himself useful to Beijing and Trump, like a second channel, an acceptable face of China,” Clark said.

Alibaba refused to comment on the matter. Also there have been no comments from Ma following the meeting.