Alibaba has frequently been accused of selling fake products on its site. The e-commerce giant has made numerous efforts to check the sale of counterfeits, but the results have been less than satisfactory so far. Now, to deter counterfeiters, Jack Ma wants Chinese lawmakers to take serious action against them, according to Bloomberg.
Ma blames Chinese authorities for lack of action
In Beijing, Ma appealed to the National People’s Congress to penalize counterfeiters as strictly as they punish drunk drivers. TheAlibaba Group Chairman voiced his opinion in an open letter to the delegates of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and NPC.
In the letter, which was also published on his Weibo account, Ma said that enforcement had been too lax, and to deter illegal profiteers, authorities should raise the maximum prison sentences and other penalties.
“We need to fight counterfeits the same way we fight drunk driving,” Ma said in the letter.
Previously, the online retailer had said that “ambiguous” counterfeiting laws in China are the main factor weakening the fight against the sale of fake or artificial goods. The e-commerce giant said that it has no law enforcement power as a private enterprise.
Alibaba further said that it has been handing over important information to Chinese authorities, but they are following up on only a small fraction of the cases. Chinese law enforcement pursued only 1,184 cases of the almost 4,500 eligible cases identified by Alibaba last year, according to CNBC.
What is Alibaba doing to stop counterfeiting?
Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center in Hangzhou, said the online retailer is shifting the burden to (Chinese) lawmakers, and it might assist them in driving some changes in China’s criminal system.
“They hope to use a few cases to kill a chicken to scare the monkeys,” Lei said.
Last year, the e-commerce company was labeled a “notorious market” by the United States Office of the Trade Representative. The same list includes flea markets from Nigeria to Brazil, physical marketplaces like Beijing’s Silk Market, and torrent website Pirate Bay.
It cannot be said that the e-commerce giant is not doing anything to stop counterfeiting. In a letter to the USTR, the Chinese company said that it closed about 180,000 stores on its Taobao platform and took down about 380 million product listings in the 12 months leading up to August 2016. The online retailer sued two merchants over counterfeiting earlier this year.