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On December 14, Alibaba announced its taking over of South China Morning Post, an English media outlet in Hong Kong, and its other media assets.

UDN reports, South China Morning Post is in great demand in Hong Kong and is also the most influential English media among Southeast Asian countries.

Alibaba says, South China Morning Post provides the world with “voices from China" that are different from Western media perspectives. Also, in order to reach a wider audience worldwide, the newspaper will cancel the paywall.

Cai Chong-xin, executive vice president of Alibaba, stresses that South China Morning Post will maintain its editorial independence and present coverage with objectiveness, fairness and accuracy.

“The editorial decisions of each day will be made by the editors in the newsroom, rather than in the boardroom," says Cai.

China Times reports, Hu Yi-chen, CEO of South China Morning Post, says that they welcome Alibaba to devote more technological resources in news production and business operation to stabilize the development of the media outlet.

Liberty Times reports, Lin Li-he, deputy chief editor of South China Morning Post, who was forced to resign for criticizing the Chinese government, says in an interview with AFP that Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group and the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have a close relationship. It is hard to imagine that Ma will tolerate any criticism toward the CCP or the Chinese political system.

Du Yao-ming, assistant professor of the Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, says that South China Morning Post has no commercial value for Alibaba. He believes China hopes to promote its image to the world vicariously through this non-state media’s reputation.

Yahoo! Hong Kong reports, the Hong Kong Journalists Association points out that this is the first time a Chinese enterprise has taken over a Hong Kong mainstream media and the freedom of the press in Hong Kong may be further narrowed.

In addition to the South China Morning Post, Alibaba has acquired the company’s other media assets, including Sunday Morning Post, the digital platform and its mobile applications, two Chinese websites and and a series of magazines, such as the Hong Kong version of Esquire, ELLE, Cosmopolitan, The PEAK and Harper’s Bazaar.

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang