China asks Alibaba to dispose of its media assets

The logo of Alibaba Group is seen at its office in Beijing, China.

China’s government has asked Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to dispose of its media assets, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Discussions over the matter have been held since early this year, the report said, adding that officials were shocked at how expansive Alibaba’s media interests have become.

The company, whose mainstay business is online retail, has stakes in the Twitter-like Weibo platform and several news outlets including Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

Such influence is seen as posing serious challenges to the Chinese Communist Party and its own powerful propaganda apparatus, the Journal’s sources were quoted as saying.

In a Tuesday letter to South China Morning Post employees, the newspaper’s CEO Gary Liu said “Alibaba’s commitment to SCMP remains unchanged and continues to support our mission and business goals.”

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