China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has rejected US allegations that it sells counterfeit goods, saying that Washington’s move to put it back on a blacklist of its “notorious markets” could be influenced by the “current political climate” in America. Questioning the US move, Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said he was “disappointed” by the decision and wondered whether it was “based on actual facts or was influenced by the current political climate.” US President-elect Donald Trump had, during his campaign, repeatedly accused Chinese firms of stealing intellectual property. The US has again labeled Alibaba Group Holding Ltd as one of the world’s largest destinations for fake goods, a major embarrassment for a Chinese e-commerce giant trying to shake off its reputation as a haven for counterfeiters.
The US Office of the Trade Representative (USTR) yesterday restored Alibaba to its annual Notorious Markets blacklist, four years after the Chinese company managed to get out of it. “We are very disappointed by the USTR’s decision” to include Alibaba’s Taobao unit on the list “which ignores the real work Alibaba has done against counterfeiters,” Evans, said in a statement. The agency warned last December that Alibaba needed to do better if it wished to avoid the designation reserved for websites and markets where there is large-scale copyright infringement.
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Reacting to the US move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told media briefing here today that US and China should resolve trade issues in a responsible way through bilateral talks without resorting such measures. “The nature of China-US trade relations is mutually beneficial. We hope that such relations can develop in a sound way, which is beneficial to both the countries. If there is difficulty or issue we should resolve them in a responsible way,” she said, adding that both countries should level the playing fields for the commercial firms from each other’s countries.
Alibaba was taken off the list four years ago, but US authorities say the firm’s online platform Taobao is used to sell “high levels” of fake goods.
The Chinese online retailer and its market place Taobao have long been accused of being a platform for counterfeit goods. Taobao said earlier this year it had tightened controls on its sale of luxury goods, requiring sellers to show proof of authenticity. In May though, Alibaba was suspended from the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) watchdog over piracy concerns, the BBC reported. More than 250 members, including Gucci America and Michael Kors, had threatened that they would leave the IACC in protest at Alibaba’s membership.
Alibaba – by far China’s biggest online retailer – floated on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 and broke records by raising USD 25 billion. Alibaba created record on Singles Day last month by selling goods worth about USD 18 billion.