Alibaba bans 15 online stores for fake or substandard surgical masks

Fifteen stores have been permanently barred from using Alibaba's online shopping platform for selling fake or substandard surgical masks during the pneumonia outbreak caused by a novel coronavirus, the e-commerce giant said on Wednesday.

Five of the 15 online shops barred by Tuesday had been referred to public security bureaus for further investigation, Alibaba said in a statement.

"We'll continue efforts to fight people making or selling counterfeit goods related to epidemic prevention and control on our platform and give them harsher punishments," it said, adding it had zero tolerance for such sellers.

Those engaging in raising prices or false advertising would also be punished more heavily, and the company said it would regularly disclose the names of problematic shops and the punishments they received.

"All the moves are not only to shoulder more responsibility for protecting consumers' interests, but also to show our utmost respect to online sellers who abide by laws and take the initiative to participate in the fight to prevent and control the epidemic," it said.

Promising to let those engaging in improper or illegal behavior during the epidemic period go bankrupt, with "no space to live in Alibaba", the company also called on other e-commerce platforms to shut their doors to such problematic sellers, and suggested government departments should add them to a dishonesty blacklist.

(Source: China Daily)