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Chinese Android App Stores Removed Alibaba's Browser

Chinese Android App Stores Removed Alibaba's Browser
The UC Browser from the Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group was removed from their mobile apps by Chinese app stores following the severe criticism of the browser Chinese state television's annual consumer rights show over it allowing displaying of medical ads that were put up by companies unqualified to do so and thereby presenting a hazard to consumers.
In recent times, there has been greater scrutiny of the vast Internet sector of China by Chinese regulators with the Alibaba e-commerce empire founded by billionaire Jack Ma being specifically targeted with antitrust probes.
As of this week, uses of Android app stores that are operated by major Chinese phone makers Huawei, Xiaomi and Vivo could not download the UC Browser.  The browser however continued to be available for downloading on Apple Inc's Chinese app store.
China Central Television's popular two-hour prime time "315" show on Monday night was the place where a number of Chinese and foreign companies, including the UC Browser, were targeted by consumer groups and were criticised for a wide range of consumer related issues.  
After being severely criticised at the show, an apology was tendered in a statement by UC Browser which, according to the claims of the company, has more than 400 million monthly active users globally. The company added that it had started an internal investigation on the issue and had started to implement appropriate corrective measures.
In response to a request for comment on UC's removal by app stores, Alibaba referred to the UC statement to the media 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.
There were no comments in the media available from Huawei Xiaomi and Vivo.
There have been instances in the past in China where there have has been temporary removal of app in the country from apps stories even though the existing users of the apps remained unaffected.
Separately, at a meeting on Monday that was  chaired by President Xi Jinping of ruling Communist Party leaders in charge of financial and economic affairs, the discussion list included internet platforms.
"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," a readout of the meeting by the official Xinhua news agency said.
Recently four apps were named in the CCTV show and were accused of misleading users into downloading and collecting excessive private information and a Chinese ministry also asked major app stores to remove those four apps on Tuesday.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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