Jack Ma, CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, speaks during his visit at the Vivatech startups and innovation fair, in Paris on May 16, 2019.
Philippe Lopez | AFP | Getty Images
Alibaba’s internet browser has been removed from several app stores in China as the company’s feud with the Chinese government continues.
Android app stores including those operated by Huawei and Xiaomi have blocked downloads or removed Alibaba’s “UC Browser,” according to Huawei and Xiaomi phone owners who spoke to CNBC.
However, one Samsung phone owner in China said they could still see the browser in Samsung’s app store. The UC Browser is also still available on Apple’s App Store.
The news was first reported by The Financial Times.
It comes after the UC Browser was criticized on a TV show, broadcast by state-owned broadcaster CCTV, about misleading online medical advertising.
The show accused the browser of allowing private hospitals to bid for the names of China’s best known hospitals in keyword searches. Thus potentially luring patients to their websites instead of the public hospitals they are supposed to visit.
A spokesperson from Alibaba’s UC Browser team told CNBC: “We attach high importance to problems shown in the show, and quickly conducted a series of measures to check and correct.”
They said the “illegal ad contents” that was referred to in the CCTV show had been removed immediately.
“We will further enhance content review and shoulder more responsibility, and provide good info services with stricter standards,” they added.
It comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday that Beijing’s crackdown on large technology firms was just beginning. “Some platform companies’ development is not standard and risks exist,” Xi said in an address to China’s top economic committee, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Regulators blocked the $37 billion IPO of Alibaba’s financial technology affiliate Ant Group last November and Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder and the richest person in China, has hardly been seen in public since.
— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal.