After being chastised on Chinese state television’s annual consumer rights show for featuring medical ads from unqualified firms, Chinese app stores have pulled Alibaba Group’s UC Browser for mobiles.
China is already increasing control of its massive Internet market, with billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba e-commerce empire coming under particular scrutiny.
As of Tuesday evening, UC Browser was unavailable for download on the Android app stores of major Chinese phone manufacturers Huawei, Xiaomi, and Vivo. On Apple’s Chinese app store, it’s still available.
On Monday night, China Central Television’s famous two-hour prime time show “315” targeted UC Browser as one of many Chinese and foreign companies for a variety of issues.
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After the broadcast, UC Browser by Alibaba, which claims to have more than 400 million monthly active users worldwide, apologized. It said it had conducted an investigation and taken corrective action.
In reply to a request for comment on UC’s exclusion by app stores, Alibaba referred to the UC statement on Tuesday.
“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,” UC said on Monday.
Requests for comment were not immediately answered by Huawei. Xiaomi and Vivo did not respond to requests for comment. In the past, applications in China were briefly excluded from app stories, but current users were unaffected.
Internet platforms were discussed at a meeting of ruling Communist Party leaders in charge of financial and economic affairs on Monday, which was chaired by President Xi Jinping.
“Some platform enterprises are developing in an irregular manner and bear risks; the platform economy is not fully developed and has shortcomings. We have a prominent problem of the regulatory system not adjusting to this issue,” a readout of the meeting by the official Xinhua news agency said.
On Tuesday, a Chinese ministry requested that four apps named in the CCTV show be removed from major app stores for deceiving users into downloading and gathering unnecessary personal information.