BEIJING, July 22 Microblog posts about a New
York Times article on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba
Group Holding's close ties to descendants of
China's leaders have been removed by censors, a censorship
monitoring group said on Tuesday.
Alibaba has been in the spotlight as it prepares its stock
market listing - potentially the largest ever tech debut in the
United States - particularly over its complicated web of
affiliations and corporate governance.
One censored post on the Weibo Corp microblog
included a Chinese version of the New York Times piece, with the
comment, "It's not only Yahoo and SoftBank behind Alibaba,"
Weiboscope, a University of Hong Kong project that publishes and
analyses censored posts, said.
Yahoo Inc, with a 22.5 percent stake in Alibaba,
and SoftBank Corp with a 34.3 percent ownership are
Alibaba's two biggest shareholders.
"That post was deleted not primarily because of Alibaba, but
mostly because it mentions the leadership and their offspring,
their sons and grandsons, involved in the investment," Fu
King-wa, an assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong's
Journalism and Media Studies Centre who runs Weiboscope, said.
"Usually this kind of post gets deleted primarily because it
got a lot of attention and got re-tweeted a lot in China, and
this caught censors' attention and so was on their radar," Fu
Alibaba had published a statement on Monday, which said that
only the market was behind Alibaba.
"We are strongly against the article which is based on
self-inference and imagination, as well as some media reporting
over and over again on Alibaba's background," the statement
Alibaba and Weibo declined to comment on the deletion of the
The New York Times' English- and Chinese-language websites
are both blocked in China.
(Reporting by Paul Carsten. Editing by Jane Merriman)