Business Hong Kong SinoBeat

‘Trust us’: Jack Ma denies Alibaba ownership will compromise SCMP independence

Chinese e-commerce mogul Jack Ma has denied suggestions that Hong Kong broadsheet The South China Morning Post will suffer erosion to its editorial independence under his company Alibaba’s control.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2015 World Internet Conference in China, Ma said Alibaba “also wants media independence and fairness,” reported the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

alibaba-scmp deal

Jack Ma introduces his business to Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2015 World Internet Conference. Photo: Weibo.

“Trust us. Why do people have to think that if we have it, it will lose its independence? Why not with others?” Ma was quoted as saying.

The 51-year-old billionaire said critics who think the Hong Kong paper will be curtailed in its China coverage “think too little of us.”

Ma’s Alibaba Group bought the 112-year-old newspaper for HK$2.06 billion this week following weeks of speculation. The deal brought fears about press freedom in Hong Kong, which many say has been on the decline since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai’s comments about Western media having a tainted view of China added to concerns that Alibaba bought the SCMP to spread a positive image of Beijing.

'Trust us': Jack Ma denies Alibaba ownership will compromise SCMP independence