Alibaba CEO extols positive role e-commerce giant's technology can play in Chinese society in article for official magazine

·3 min read

Daniel Zhang Yong, chairman and chief executive of Alibaba Group Holding, has written an article in an official magazine published by the country's cyberspace administration, promoting the positive role the Hangzhou-based company's technology can play in Chinese society.

The article was published in the latest edition of China Wangxin, a magazine launched in 2022 by the Cyberspace Administration of China as a mouthpiece for the authority. A supplementary editor's note on Zhang's article listed growth of the e-commerce giant as proof of President Xi Jinping's strategy to develop a powerful digital economy.

In the article Zhang noted that Alibaba's tech development can be seen in three stages. The first was using technology to create commercial value, specifically building the infrastructure for e-commerce transactions. The second is cloud innovation and promoting the digitalisation of industry through Alibaba Cloud.

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The third is using technology to better serve society. "On the one hand, we focus on the essence and cutting-edge technology... on the other hand, we are committed to creating open and shared technology that benefits everyone," he wrote.

The article's publication comes as Beijing dials down an intense period of regulatory scrutiny of Big Tech firms such as Alibaba and Tencent Holdings. In May, top Chinese Communist Party officials, including Vice Premier Liu He and No 4 party ranking member Wang Yang, met Big Tech leaders to encourage them to play a constructive role in the national economy.

The Politburo meeting at the end of April also indicated a more positive tone on internet companies, as officials voiced support for measures assisting the "healthy development" of the platform economy.

Zhang wrote in the article that Alibaba had helped to sell agricultural produce worth more than 1 trillion yuan in the past eight years. "From the second half of 2021 until 2025, Alibaba plans to invest 100 billion yuan to help tech innovation, economic development, high-quality employment and care for vulnerable groups to promote social and economic growth," he wrote.

In the article, Zhang points to China's health code as an example of how the Hangzhou-based company is using technology to help solve social issues. "Shortly after the [Covid-19] outbreak in 2020, [it took us just] seven days to develop the health code," Zhang wrote.

Last month Alibaba reported a 9 per cent increase in revenue for the March quarter, the slowest pace on record, on the back of a slowing economy amid ongoing pandemic lockdowns in China. Alibaba's cloud business, which the company is betting on as a major new source of revenue and profits, reported a full-year profit of 1.1 billion yuan though, marking the first time the unit had turned a profit.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

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