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Monday, 22 July 2013 10:29

Hack quits over Alibaba quote

Written by Nick Farrell

Look what they’ve done to my song Ma

A Hong Kong hackette has quit after a row over disputed remarks that Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is reported to have made in support of Beijing's violent crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989. Ma denies he made the quote and the reporter said her report for the South China Morning Post this month was changed in editing. She has apologized to Ma, yet for some reason the newspaper is standing behind the story.

The report had Ma saying that the Chinese government as "terrific" and downplayed the significance of Internet censorship. Journalist Liu Yi, in a statement written in Chinese on her Facebook account, said the published version of the interview with Ma was not the same as her original submission.

"Ma never intended to make any comments about politics," her statement said. "I solemnly apologise to [Jack Ma's Chinese name) and resign from the South China Morning Post."

What appears to have happened is that the reporter had accessed its system and replaced the editor-approved article with an altered version in which Ma's reference to Tiananmen was removed without authorisation. The editor-approved version was restored and that Liu Yi had been suspended, but she chose to resign on July 19 before an investigation had been completed.

Florence Shih, of Alibaba Group's international corporate affairs department, said the Post's version omitted a phrase that made it clear Ma was not referring to the Tiananmen crackdown but rather to his decision to ask for the resignation of Alibaba.com CEO David Wei in 2011 after a rise in fraud at the site.

Nick Farrell

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