As the news broke that China is pushing Alibaba Group Holding, founded by Jack Ma, to divest from its media assets, including the SCMP (South China Morning Post), shocked employees contemplated the future of the leading English-language newspaper that is based out of Hong Kong.
When Alibaba purchased the leading English-language newspaper for $266 million back in 2015, it injected the necessary cash into operations and vowed that the century-old English-language newspaper will preserve editorial independence.
Currently, some of the employees are fearing that a Chinese state-owned enterprise might eventually take over from Hangzhou-based Alibaba and put SCMP under Beijing’s control.
President of the Foreign Correspondents' Club as well as the Director of Journalism and Media Studies, University of Hong Kong, Keith Richburg, stated that there is doubt that if a Chinese billionaire or an entity takes it over, they are going to make changes to the editorial line.
The step has been condemned by countries such as the U.S. as well as the UK, which recently stated that China was in a “state of non-compliance” with the treaty that lead the way for the former British colony’s handover back in 1997, drawing out a displeased response from Beijing.
The pressure on Alibaba from Beijing arises from a growing concern regarding the leading technology provider’s influence over the public opinion across the country.
Meanwhile, according to a spokesperson, South China Morning Post is committed to serve its readers all across the globe with in-depth analysis and independent journalism, as it has been doing for over 117 years.
Since the national security law came into effect on 2020, various media outlets have begun to tread lightly out of fear of violating vaguely defined provisions on secessions and subversion.
Meanwhile, a leading non-profit digital new outlet, namely the Hong Kong Free Press, that labels itself as impartial, has also come under attack.