BEIJING, (Reuters) — 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 said.
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 said.
Alibaba and Weibo declined to comment on the deletion of the microblog posts.
@juicebeauty, where @gwynethpaltrow holds the title of creative director of makeup, has become one of the foremost labels in the organic beauty category –– with sales on track to hit $100 million this year. What’s behind the rapid growth the brand is experiencing right now? It all started in 2005 when the wellness movement was just getting started. Read more on WWD.com. #wwdbeauty
Stay up to do date with breaking news and trending stories with WWD’s “The Essentialist.” Our newsletter delivers the top news in fashion right to your inbox. Want more info? Link in bio. #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
"I want to tell a story that inspires people to feel good about themselves, but also I'm making a commentary about the lack of female stories and female directors and saying this should change," said @imheathergraham on her latest project "Half Magic." The comedy feature, which the actress wrote and directed, is based on her own struggles as a woman in show business. Read @andrewnodell's full interview with Graham on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
@meltcosmetics cofounders @lora_arellano and @danabomar built their brand on a single idea: a true matte lipstick. To set the brand apart, they said they always put their customers first –– including a personalized note in each package. #wwdsummits #wwdbeauty
@moncler unveiled its latest project, #MonclerGenius, yesterday at Milan Fashion Week. The Italian outwear maker gave show-goers a preview of the monthly collections – which were created by eight designers and creative talents including Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Craig Green and more – that will start rolling out in the summer.