Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group buys South China Morning Post

Beijing: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group has acquired the South China Morning Post, a move which simultaneously signals its intention to expand its media influence beyond mainland China while sparking fears around editorial independence at the venerable Hong Kong newspaper.

Announcing the deal on Thursday night, Alibaba, founded by one of China’s richest and most recognisable billionaire businessmen, Jack Ma, pledged to uphold editorial independence while leveraging the group’s digital expertise to transform the 112-year-old English-language newspaper to a media entity with global reach.

But in interviews, Alibaba Executive Vice-Chairman Joseph Tsai hinted at a desire to improve China’s image in what he considered a “negative” portrayal of the company’s home country in western press.

“Today when I see mainstream western news organisations cover China, they cover it through a very particular lens,” Executive Vice-Chairman Joseph Tsai said in an interview withthe Post. “We believe things should be presented as they are. Present facts, tell the truth, and that is the principle that we are going to operate on.”

Mr Tsai denied the Chinese government played any role in Alibaba’s decision to acquire the media assets of the Hong Kong-listed SCMP Group, which include other smaller fashion and lifestyle publications. The purchase price was not disclosed.

But mainland ownership of one of Hong Kong’s most recognisable mastheads comes at a politically delicate time in a city where many are concerned about encroaching mainland interests and a perceived decline in its free press. The territory of 7 million also remains sharply divided after last year’s citywide pro-democracy demonstrations, which were imbued with strong anti-mainland sentiment.

Hong Kong’s relatively free press is not subjected to the same strict government oversight and censorship the Communist Party requires in mainland China. And while the Post has come under criticism in recent years for its increasingly pro-Beijing stance under recently departed editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei, it has produced powerful and award-winning coverage of issues which were censored heavily in the mainland, including extensive reporting of the Occupy protests and last year’s 25th anniversary of the military crackdown of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

The paper also reports on human rights abuses and sensitive political scandals in mainland China in consistent detail, all of which may prove awkward, if not untenable, under the ownership of Alibaba and Jack Ma, known for his close ties with China’s central leadership.

“We’ll let the editors make their judgment on what to publish and not to publish,” Mr Tsai told the New York Times. “I can’t think of anything being off-limits.”

In 2013, a Post reporter was forced to apologise and resign after Alibaba complained she had misquoted Mr Ma. The story said he had compared the tough decision-making skills required to run Alibaba with the Chinese government’s crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 by saying: “As the country’s most senior decision-maker, he had to be stable and he had to make cruel decisions. It was not the perfect decision, but it was the best decision, and it was the best decision at that time.” The reporter was suspended and subsequently resigned.

Like most traditional media companies, the SCMP has struggled with declining profitability amid a fragmenting readership and advertising market, and some analysts said the injection of Alibaba’s undoubted financial heft and innovation could benefit the flagging title.

Alibaba, best-known for its online shopping platforms Tmall and Taobao Marketplace, has pledged to invest in the business, hire more staff, and leverage its digital expertise to grow its global audience. It will remove the website’s paywall.

In recent years, Alibaba and Mr Ma have made extensive investments in social media platform Weibo, the YouTube-like Youku, and various domestic media outlets including China Business News.

Mr Ma and fellow billionaire tycoon Wang Jianlin, founder of Wanda Group and also known for his close ties with the Chinese government, have also invested heavily in areas favoured as a priority in the Communist Party’s global soft-power push, including in film production, the arts and football.

The Post was once part of the Rupert Murdoch media empire but since 1993 has been in the hands of Malaysian tycoon Robert Kuok.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

Posted in: 苏州美甲美睫培训学校