UC Browser has been kicked off Android Store in China following a criticism it received on Chinese state television’s yearly show on consumer rights, for including medical ads by allegedly unscrupulous companies. On Tuesday, the 16th of March 2021, Chinese app stores removed the UC Browser web and mobile browser, and the app could no longer be downloaded on Android app stores operated by major Chinese phone makers like Huawei, Vivo and Xiaomi Corp. As at the 16t of March 2021, it was still available on Apple’s app store.
Alibaba’s UC Browser was part of the various Chinese and foreign companies that was criticized on China’s Central Television’s (CCTV) two hours long prime time ‘315’ show on the night of Monday the 15th.
UC Browser issued an immediate apology and promised to carry out an investigation on the accusation as well as enforce corrective measures. This was what Alibaba had to say after UC Browser had issued a statement. ‘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 our users to continue to supervise us’, it said.
Since the browser got removed from Android app stores, it has been the topic of discussion. News agency; Xinhua news said that ‘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’.
It is well known that Alibaba and the businesses under its umbrella has been under the scrutiny of the Chinese Government, especially after the owner Jack Ma criticized the Chinese Government. This leaves the question of if Alibaba is being targeted. UC Browser has over 400 million monthly active users around the world and is arguably one of the most popular and user-friendly internet browsing platforms that exist.
This is not the Chinese authorities’ first attempt at banning an app. In fact, there is a track record of apps that have been banned or suspended for a short period.