China Orders Removal of Alibaba's UC Browser From App Stores as Xi Jinping Tightens Grip

Alibaba's UC internet browser has got deleted from Chinese app store, following the company's feud with the Chinese government that began last year. Android app store across China, including those operated by tech giants Huawei and Xiaomi, have blocked downloads or removed UC Browser with little or no notice to users.

President Xi Jinping tightened the grip on large technology companies in China by regulating its vast internet sector and billionaire Jack Ma's Alibaba faced the brunt of heavy scrutiny as the government initiated crackdowns targeting the company.

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Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach, California October 27, 2014 Lucy Nicholson/File Photo/Reuters

However, some Samsung mobile phone owners in China revealed they could still see the UC browser in their Samsung app store and reports claim the browser is also still available on Apple's App Store.

Just a day ago, Xi Jinping held a conference meeting with senior officials discussing the role of internet platforms in China and the ruling Communist party leaders, who are mostly in charge of financial and economic affairs came in favor of removing the UC browser from the country's app stores.

"Some platform enterprises are developing in an irregular manner and bear risks; the platform economy is not fully developed and has shortcomings, and we have a prominent problem of the regulatory system not adjusting to this issue," read a statement from the meeting by the official Xinhua news agency said.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping called food waste shameful as he aims to pass the new law Wikimedia Commons

The removal comes after UC browser was heavily criticized on a television show broadcast by state-owned CCTV and went in length about how misleading online medical advertisings are and UC browser was the centre of attention.

The show accused UC browser of allowing private hospitals to bid for China's best known hospital names in keyword searches, potentially luring patients to their websites instead using public hospitals that they are supposed to be visiting.

UC browser, which boasted about 400 million downloads, issued an apology after the show was aired and said it had begun an investigation that would lead to corrective measures. "We will further strengthen the supervision mechanism and sense of responsibility of the platform, and provide users with high-quality information services with more stringent standards. We urge users to continue to supervise us,'' read a statement from the company.

Rumors are doing the rounds that Xi Jinping's whip against large tech companies in China is just the beginning and many more such strict regulations would come forward. In November 2020, regulators blocked an IPO worth $37 billion of Alibaba's financial technology affiliate Ant Group and the founder, Jack Ma, who is the richest person in China, went missing from the public's eye and only appeared after two months.