Alibaba stops ‘innovative initiatives’ in India citing geopolitical environment

Alibaba stops ‘innovative initiatives’ in India citing geopolitical environment
Photo Credit: Reuters
21 Aug, 2020

Chinese technology company Alibaba Group Holding said it has stopped innovative initiatives in India due to the current geopolitical environment, but did not expect the decision to have a “material impact” on the company’s financials.

Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of the Alibaba Group, made the statement during an earnings call announcing the company’s financial results for the first quarter of financial year 2020-21.

The company has decided to stop the operations of its web browser product UCWeb, which includes its mobile browser service and the UC News service, he said.

The Indian government banned 59 apps backed by Chinese entities, including UCWeb, on June 29.

“... we decided to stop operations of UCWeb and other innovation initiatives in India after our business review. And we believe that globalisation is our long-term strategy. But in near term, I think we are closely monitoring the change of the geopolitical environment and also the national policy of other countries, and we will adjust our strategies,” Zhang said in response to a question posed during the earnings call.

“We believe global trade will continue and Alibaba's active pursuit of our mission to make it easy to do business anywhere are fully aligned with the interest of both China and the US,” he added.

This also assumes significance in the light of ongoing trade war between the US and China.

Apart from the UCWeb product, Alibaba is an investor in food technology platform Zomato through Ant Financial. Zomato’s $150 million fund infusion from Ant Financial has been stuck due to an amendment in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy in April, which requires FDIs with beneficial ownership from Chinese companies or entities to seek government approval.

Alibaba has also backed online grocery firm BigBasket, logistics company Xpressbees and payments unicorn Paytm.